Having enormous amounts of credit card and student loan debt, living paycheck to paycheck, or being unable to make car payments are more than just unfavorable occurrences in the Latinx Community. These life circumstances trigger financial trauma that can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
Money: A Latin Community Trauma
It’s that intense anxiety, paranoia, and fear that appears during financial transactions or even conversations around money that eventually impact how certain perceptions and behaviors surrounding finances are learned and passed down from generation to generation. While financial trauma doesn’t discriminate and impacts people from all economic, racial, ethnic, and gendered backgrounds, more Latinas are beginning to open up about their traumatic relationships with money and what they’re doing to heal them.
“People don’t like to talk about their finances, but it’s usually correlated or connected to their mental health as well,” Natalie Torres-Haddad, financial literacy and mental health advocate “You hear people say they go on shopping sprees or they think it’s retail therapy, or whatever they want to call it, but usually they’re dealing with something deeper. They’re dealing with an emotion they’re not recognizing, and unfortunately, they use their buying power in a way that will put them in financial ruin if they don’t get it in check.”
A Generational Relationship
Financial trauma is rooted in generational trauma. As children, we are introduced to financial interactions by watching parents or caretakers purchase items at a store, pay bills or experience debt. If the elder is anxious about how much money they have in their bank account or is scared they can’t afford to pay a utility bill, watchful young ones pick up the message that these adverse emotions are tied to money.
As adults, we tend to emulate the behaviors of our guardians, picking up their same habits and/or financial traumas. In fact, about one-third of millennials, including those who are more financially secure than their parents, experience financial trauma, also known as acute financial stress.
A New Relationship
As an author, host of the bilingual podcast Financially Savvy Latina, and financial coach, Torres-Haddad helps women work through their financial stress and begin to have a healthy relationship with money — which looks different for everyone. “It’s not necessarily how much you make or how much you save; it’s really what makes you feel comfortable, happy, and secure,” the Salvadoran-born money expert says.
7 ways to Overcome Generational Financial Trauma (To read more details on the list, click here):
1. Take inventory of your emotions and your relationship to money
2. Create a peaceful or joyous money environment.
3. Have an accountability partner
4. Be patient with yourself
5. Remember why you started
6. Celebrate your growth
7. Know that you deserve abundance
“We are our ancestors’ wildest dream come true, and because of that, we are at a place where they wanted us to be, to create change in the world and within our families,” she says. “You, and the generation before you, worked hard to get where you are.”