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Financial Literacy

Breaking generational patterns and building wealth with Katia Chesnok

Presented by the first-ever Toyota Grand Highlander

Come January many of us set fresh goals to improve our finances and grow our wealth. Although achieving these objectives can be challenging, it can also be highly rewarding, especially for those of us who are working parents with three or more children.

To assist in achieving financial success, the first-ever Toyota Grand Highlander has joined forces with Latina financial expert Katia Chesnok, otherwise known as @Economikat, to offer her invaluable insights and suggestions on how to accumulate wealth, maintain financial equilibrium, and educate your children about money matters.

This article is the second of a three-part series, you can check the links below for more great content from Katia and the first-ever Toyota Grand Highlander!

In this edition, we spoke to Katia about how growing up Latina shaped her early thinking about money and investments. She shared how she parted ways with those generational cycles, and how she started her path to financial freedom by making her money work for her.

Q. Have you always been so financially savvy?

Katia: Growing up my relationship with money was complicated. My parents, grandparents, and family in general always treated money as a taboo topic. Based on their behaviors, I grew up thinking that living paycheck to paycheck was normal, and that you couldn’t invest your money because only wealthy people could invest and only millionaires could create generational wealth for their kids.

Q. How did you eventually change your money mindset?

Katia: Six years ago, my reality was very different. I was working full time in banking and even though my salary was low, I loved my job. But I had a big problem, I had over $38,000 worth of credit card debt. I was working hard, but I was still living paycheck to paycheck.

I think it was after listening to a podcast that I decided I could change my financial life by investing. I asked myself, as a first-generation Latina, was I destined to repeat those patterns and live check to check? No way! Making your money work for you means financial freedom!

I started to think about money differently, that I could make my money work harder for me, that I could retire early, and that I didnít have to work until age 65. If I started to invest my money, I could in a way buy my time back.

I had to find ways to increase my income to be able to pay my debt. I started researching online for ideas. I wanted a side hustle that would pay me more and that I could eventually pivot into working full time.

Money is just a tool, and having more time with my family is the goal. 

Q. What are your investment tips for working parents with large families?

Katia: Investing is not only for wealthy people, its available to everyone. It is how you begin to build wealth, not something you start doing AFTER you are wealthy. Take advantage of compounding interest and make your money grow and work for you.

Here are some ways that I started investing that I recommend:

1. Before investing in my long-term retirement, I started by paying all my credit card debt. Focus first on paying debt on higher interest credit cards.

2. Do you still have a regular savings account? Switch to a high yield savings account now. They pay higher interest and are more flexible than long-term investments, an easy first step to start making your money work harder for you.

3. If you don’t already have one, open a Roth IRA account. I invest passively in ETFs and index funds. Index funds are bundles of different S&P 500 stocks and bonds, less risky than investing in only one specific stock.

4. You don’t have to be rich to invest. Start with $50 and increase your investment amount when you can. Take advantage of compounding interest to make your money grow! You don’t have to choose your investments either, there are traditional brokerage companies or automated ones to guide you.

5. If you have a large family like mine, shopping in bulk can save money. The first-ever Toyota Grand Highlander’s Hands-Free Power Liftgate, and ample cargo capacity makes it easy to stock up on non-perishable groceries and bulk snacks for my kids. Those savings from buying in bulk add up, you can track those savings and contribute them toward an investment account.

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