Because in a multicultural marriage and relationship we often come from different backgrounds. We were raised differently, or came from countries that have different level of lifestyle or attitude toward finances.
Kate is from Chile, and Val was born in Ukraine but grew up in Israel. They currently live in Canada with a goal to move to the United States. Soon after they got married a lot of people started asking them how they built up financial security from the ground up as immigrants. So they started to teach other multicultural families who were struggling with money, especially after moving to a new country.
Val: It’s not always easy when you don’t have friends, relatives, or anybody to ask. So we understand the struggle. That’s how we arrived, we don’t have anybody in Canada. Everything is different when you come from another country. There are a lot of emotional and financial changes.
Kate: When you come from countries that are with a lower development, there are a lot of things that you never thought about. For me it was impossible to get a credit card in my country. But it’s very important for immigrants to have a credit history. We came to the States or Canada when we are already in our 20s and 30s and we didn’t have any history. We don’t have this financial identity that will help us to buy a house or car. So it’s very important to build this financial system and do it in a good way. Don’t get in debt, but use the credit card to build your financial identity.
When we started seeing everyone around us have issues with money, but they were thinking ‘oh, you guys are special!’ We were able to build a very stable financial situation in a very short time. We worked really hard, saved, did everything possible. But everybody was saying that we are special!… No. We are not. It’s super simple! And that’s why we decided to teach this. We don’t have a special power, and it’s not about being lucky or knowledgeable. It’s just about being responsible and understanding how the system works. And use it to your benefit!
Val: I always had the example of my father saying some phrases the way he was talking to us when we were kids. He was very disciplined with finances because he moved to Israel at an older age with very young kids. One day I asked him how come you never drink beer or wine, and he said ‘If I would be drinking beer, you wouldn’t have milk in the fridge.’ Just by seeing what he was doing, I understood that I inherited this kind of vision. So when I moved to Canada to start my own life I implemented all of this knowledge. I believe that it’s very important as a parent to understand how are we supposed to use the finances. Because the kids are looking and they follow the parents behavior.
Kate: There is always a way! And that’s what we have learned from our parents. I’m also coming from a very low middle class, but what I learned from my parents is being grateful. They were always saying that there are people that are living worse than us. We should be happy that we are together and that we have time for each other. They were always treating life with humor and super positive about money, and that’s what I’ve learned from my parents .
The good thing about being multicultural, coming from different countries, and hearing different stories, is that even though Val lived most of his life in Israel, I was in Chile, and then we meet in Canada, coming from a totally different culture, we were still able to find similarities. Values that are similar, and the way we see life. We combined the best of all of the cultures in our life and that’s how we want to teach.
The good thing is that you are living on things that are not that important. If you think about it, it’s not that hard to save up with little things, but they will add up. And then suddenly you will have some money to go on a nice vacation. Something that you couldn’t think about before.
Kate: First of all you need to think about your vision as a couple. Before you start trying to do anything with numbers you need to set a common vision. How do we see ourselves in our future? You say, ‘ok, what is important for us? To go on vacation once a year? Maybe your spouse needs to study? Do you want to have kids or a house? Imagine your dream life, and from there decide what are the goals? And after that you need to decide how you can get there.
Val: But as a couple, if you are planning to combine your life, having separate accounts to spend your money on whatever you want is not a good idea. Because then instead of one vision, it becomes two separate ones. So I believe that you have to combine the things and decide together which goal you are going to tackle first, and then you can move to the second one. And as you do things together, it’s also going to strengthen your relationship, because it requires you to compromise and help each other. You have to know what the other person wants. Where do they want to go in life. So this is very important to talk about, so then you know what kind of future do you want to have. What kind of goals do you want to have. And when you do have this goal, it’s so much easier to get to it, with both of you on board.
Kate: You become one in love, in life, and also in finances. You have to think, the money that you make is for one reason, for one common life. And it is very important for you to think that you are one. That you decided on this life with the person you love forever. It’s not like you have a backup plan in case it doesn’t work. When you get married, when you start this relationship it’s because you want to be with this person, it’s because you want to dream together, it’s because you want to build your future together.
So combining finances is very important, but also it’s very important that you have a financial identity. Even though you are combining your finances, you need to have separate credit cards to build a credit history. We also give access to each others credit cards, so we know what’s going on, and in case something happens to one of us, we both have the same history.
It was really hard for me to feel valued compared to my husband. Not necessarily financially, but as far as feeling value, that’s where I struggled. Especially when I wanted to go home to see my family, and I felt like he is the one who needs to buy me the airplane ticket.
Maybe for us it was easier because we understood each other better, since we were having the same feelings and experiences, but when you are in a different situation, like your spouse never changed country, be very curious about what your spouse is feeling. What he is struggling with. Be able to listen, because sometimes just listening is enough.
Sometimes it’s very difficult because there is also a pressure from your family back home. Not from your immediate family, but the surroundings.
Val: Yes, that they are handing you money at the airport and everything is rainbows and unicorns here. So when you are trying to live up to those crazy expectations, to show in the picture how successful you are, sometimes you can go into debt just to show “look at the car I bought, because I’m in the States”. Just to show them that I didn’t waste my time just to come here. I’m not just useless here and left everything I love. So there is pressure to show that you are successful.
For me was very important to show Kate that whatever happens, we are going to be ok. It’s very important to talk to your partner, so that then we know how each other feel.
Finances and money will always be in your mind. And the only way to deal with money is by dealing with your emotions. If you are not good with your communication as a couple, your finances will never be super good. Numbers are not that difficult, but you have to think about the future and plan together. Be curious and willing to listen to each other.
Connect with Kate and Val:
‘Teach your little ones about money’ E-Book: kateandvalfavstov.com/optin-parents-guide
‘3 pillars to live a debt-free life’ Free Masterclass: kateandvalfavstov.com/optin-masterclass-debt-free-is-not-about