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Get the Most Out of Your Money

Powerful strategies that can set you on a stronger financial course.

Get the Most out of Your Money

Marguia knows that many Hispanics, especially those born outside the United States, tend to be cynical about stock investing. “Because of where they came from,” he says, “they see the stock market as a rigged game, rather than a legitimate way of investing in our economic system.” Even they, he adds, need to round out their portfolios.

If you decide to beef up your stock or bond positions, a good place to start would be low-cost index funds that allow you to invest in the entire stock or bond markets, or large sections of them. Consider the offerings of better-known index fund providers such as Vanguard or iShares.

Finally, says Marguia, “Perhaps the best way to start investing in stocks is your employer’s 401(k).” Hispanics typically participate less in those plans than non-Hispanic whites. “If you have an employer offering matching funds, and you don’t contribute to your 401(k), you are, in effect, tossing money to the wind.”

Improve your position in the job market

The unemployment rate among Hispanics is 13 percent, versus 10 percent for all workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Wilhelmina Leigh, at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Hispanics have been hardest hit in large part because they tend to be overrepresented in two of the industries affected most by the recession: construction and manufacturing.

What to do: Identify industries and professions in your area that are growing. “Health care, for example, offers many opportunities, especially in certain professions, such as x-ray technicians,” says Carlos Sanchez, a manager with Saludos Hispanos, a company devoted to helping bilingual professionals find better jobs. Sanchez recommends taking advantage of community colleges and technical schools to beef up employment credentials. “The days are gone where street smarts alone will get you a job,” he says. “Today, having specific skills is crucial.”

Take full advantage of your bilingualism, urges Sanchez. “There are 400 million Spanish speakers in the world, and being one of them offers you a huge advantage.” Sanchez, of Mexican descent, also recommends that older job seekers look deep within themselves for skill sets they may already have. A parent who has raised several children and kept a tidy house for many years, for example, may already have all the skills necessary to take a job working with children as a teacher’s aide in a local elementary school or perhaps as a cook or retail sales clerk. Or perhaps over the course of your lifetime, you’ve developed decorating skills, mechanical abilities, or marketing and sales talents.

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