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Newly arrived and in need of help navigating our financial system

Dubis Correal as a child in Colombia.

Dubis Correal, the author, as a child in Bogotá, Colombia.

When I came to United States from Colombia in September 1992, I didn’t speak any English. I can still remember the face of the airport employee who kept telling me where my luggage was, but I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. He saw confusion on my face, and with his hands – a little bit irritated – showed me four fingers to indicate that my baggage was at claim number FOUR.

Fortunately, my sister was here and she was very supportive. Even though she wasn’t financially sophisticated, she had a savings account at an institution close to her apartment in Queens, New York. She was paid weekly and went every Friday to deposit her paycheck.

I enrolled in college right away and worked as a waitress on the weekends. One day my sister took me to the bank where she had an account, so I could open my own savings account. Even though she didn’t know much about financial decisions, she knew one important thing: the value of saving, even little by little. My motivation was to be able to go back to Colombia every summer and I did it many times with my own money. Her guidance was the best thing I could have.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a sister like mine.

To help, we developed the Newcomer’s Guides to Managing Money, an unbiased resource for recent immigrants. Take a look and see ways to pay bills , receive money , open a bank account , and compare financial products.

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