Over the weekend, I was able to meet up with my good friend, Wendy, who I hadn’t seen since college.

During our conversation, we talked about how immigrant families tend to save money at much higher rates than many Americans. This is certainly true for Wendy, and she feels that the reason she saves so much is because she maintains the “immigrant mentality” towards money.

Knowing that I write for the Freedom Debt Relief blog, she agreed to share her story with our readers.

“Hi, my name is Wendy, and I’m an ethnic Karen from Burma. Even though it feels like so long ago, I remember that my childhood was pretty happy. My family was poor by American standards, but I felt normal because everyone around me came from similar economic backgrounds.

In 2006, my family fled our village because there was increasing violence and persecution. After briefly staying along the Thailand border, we made the big move to the United States and found shelter as refugees.

The early years were hard – I still remember how worried my parents were about money and how they would try to save every penny. As their daughter, it was tough to experience the constant financial struggle, but I followed their lead and learned to never be wasteful.

My family never bought anything fancy, and we hardly even ate out. Sure – sometimes, I would get jealous if people had material things that I wanted. However, for the most part, it taught me to find fulfillment in family, friends, and other things that truly matter.

I think it must be this refugee/immigrant mentality that shaped me to be the way that I am today. Maybe it just makes me feel more secure – I save as though I have no job and no home. To this day, I still put at least 50% of my paycheck into savings. 

You just never know what tomorrow will bring, and I want to make sure I’m OK if anything bad were to ever happen again.”