Advice: To live in America is a privilege

As a Cuban-American, I have always been grateful to this country for the opportunities it has given my family.

When we immigrated to the United States, my family expected nothing, but the safe haven America has always been for immigrants and the opportunity to work.

I was raised in a home where the success of others was seen as a goal, not envied or resented. Living on a budget was a choice our family made in order to improve our circumstances.

You don’t have to make a lot of money to be financially stable. You do, however, have to live within your means.

Our first home was a one-bedroom apartment. My brother and I slept in bunkbeds and my parents in a double bed. We didn’t go out to eat or go to the movies. My mother learned how to sew to save money and made all of our clothing.

We had one small television, and my brother and I could count the toys we had with one hand. For many years, my parents shared a car.

As a little girl, I was taught to value everything I had and to take care of it. My father worked seven days a week, supported our family of four and was still able to save money.

Having a job was a privilege. I never heard my parents complain, but I did grow up hearing words of gratitude for everything they had.

My husband, who is also a Cuban immigrant, lived similar childhood experiences. And neither of us were traumatized because of the things we didn’t have. We both, however, learned the value of money.

America has become a nation of citizens who are in debt because they buy what they can’t afford and live beyond their means.

You can raise minimum wage, pay healthcare and college for everyone and it will still not be enough.

Some Americans feel they are entitled to a better life. Now, it’s not only an American right, but also the right of those coming illegally to this country.

John F. Kennedy said, “And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

It is a privilege and a blessing to live in this country. The rest is up to you. You are in charge of your life. The choices you make, the hours you work, and the money you save will determine the kind of life you will lead.

Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer, and certified parent coach with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom. Follow her on Twitter @PowerOfFamily, Instagram mlsalcinespoweroffamily or contact her on her blog FamilyLifeandFindingHappy.com.