In Latinx, immigrant, and other marginalized communities, we often pride ourselves in our ability to make a dollar go a long way despite the systemic injustices we face. Whether it’s reusing old containers, clipping coupons, or keeping a change jar, many of us learn about the value of frugality and the traps of debt. Many financial advisors find value in these habits but also ascertain that saving only takes us so far.
First-generation immigrants often bear the brunt of guilt when reaching financial success, translating an economic system to our elders, and having no one to turn to because we were simply taught to be grateful for what we have.
When I noticed Netflix’s How To Get Rich, I felt a dose of relief and skepticism. The show stars Ramit Sethi, who is known for his approachable and nonjudgemental financial advice. Full disclosure, I follow him and other BIPOC finance influencers such as Millennial In Debt and Wealth Para Todos because the struggle is real and I am the eldest immigrant daughter.
How To Get Rich follows several people who have money flowing in but often deal with bad financial habits. On paper, many of the show’s characters look outwardly successful, and some of them make more money in one month than many Latinx folks might make in a year. As such, the advice on the show isn’t applicable to people who have no cash flow, assets, or easy access to money.
However, the show offers guidance on a variety of concepts many first-generation immigrants are not taught: credit card interest rates, guilt-free spending, percentage-based fees, and how a credit score can affect interest rates. It also features several couples and looks at how people with different financial values approach their relationship with money.
In a society where so many of us are taught not to discuss earnings with our peers, there’s a lot of value in being able to see how couples deal with their varying beliefs around money. Also, singles are not left out of these conversations. For them, Sethi stresses the importance of being honest with oneself.
Reality TV often gets lambasted for how it exaggerates its portrayal of various characters, but this show gets representation right. The people featured this season include LGBTQIA+ folks, first-generation immigrants, and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. At the time of filming, everyone had essentially achieved goals such as owning a home, fancy cars, or a career they enjoyed. However, there were also many participants who came from nothing and now needed to learn how to manage their newfound wealth.
As a Latina, I could relate to the guilt of being able to do just a bit more than my predecessors and even relatives in my home country. Many people like me feel stressed at the prospect of being our parents’ retirement fund. It was lovely to see that some people were able to plan for this intentionally and even achieve this goal.
Asking for help financially as immigrants is also rife with tension, and there was an episode that dealt with participants who did just that. Ramit also spoke frankly about the traps of multilevel marketing (MLMs) and gave a breakdown of how MLMs can trap people in vulnerable communities.
Personal finance advice isn’t going to solve the countless systemic issues marginalized communities face. Shows like How To Get Rich can teach us how our economic system works and provide shortcuts for how to have hard conversations about the taboo topic of finance. And it’s encouraging to see a television show where the host is dedicated to helping people make better choices, avoid pitfalls, and achieve personal goals.
How To Get Rich is now available for streaming on Netflix.