Getting to know Adina Appelbaum, AFC® candidate

Adina Appelbaum is a financial and online business coach for immigrants and their families. She is also an immigration lawyer at a non-profit. Together with her husband, Mauricio, Adina started Immigrant Finance, with the mission to “empower immigrants and their families with personal finance education and online business development so they can make the shift from surviving to thriving to build generational wealth.”

AFCPE: What inspired you to start this organization and pursue this important work?

Adina: When my husband Mauricio immigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador in 2013, we struggled through the whole process of trying to figure out our finances. We didn’t know if my husband was allowed to do basic things like have a bank account or credit card or if he would be able to invest, take out a mortgage, save for retirement, and build a future here in the U.S. We felt very alone and anxious in the process and wasted years trying to figure it all out on our own. There was nothing on the internet or in the personal finance books about personal finances for immigrants. To hear our whole story, you can listen to the first episode of our podcast here.

We wanted to create something to help support other immigrants and their family members navigating the financial system in the U.S. – what we wish we had had when we went through it alone. In 2018, we created Immigrant Finance to help share what we had been learning – about personal finance and building wealth – in our financial journey with other immigrant families.

As an immigration lawyer who has worked with hundreds of immigrants, I know how having a strong personal finance foundation can make a real difference in someone’s life and immigration case. Additionally, as the great-granddaughter of Jewish refugees who fled to this country with nothing, I personally know money mindset challenges can be exacerbated by the immigrant experience. Something like the fear of not having enough can get passed down for generations if it is not addressed head-on. For my family, developing financial stability and building wealth for future generations has been critical and I believe all immigrants should have the same opportunities to build wealth and live the life that they deserve.

AFCPE: Tell us a little more about the course you’ve developed?

Adina: We created Immigrant Finance School™, our 6-week group coaching program on managing money, investing, and online business development, to help share what we’ve learned about building wealth and continue to learn with other immigrants and their families. We also wanted to build community spaces for others going through this process. No one should have to feel alone during the process of financial empowerment, particularly when you’re the first in your family to learn about investing and shifting from a survival to thriving mindset. There are many aspects of finances that are unique to immigrants and their family members – from having to budget for immigration lawyers and fees, to sending money to family abroad, to planning for parents’ retirements when you are their retirement plan. By being surrounded by other immigrants and their family members during their financial journeys, we’ve seen our students have tremendous transformations in their financial empowerment.

We also focus on helping our students develop mission-driven online businesses as a way to increase income so they can reach their financial goals faster, have a pathway to building wealth, and make an impact to help others.

AFCPE: You are currently an AFC® candidate. How did you learn about the certification and why did you decide to pursue the AFC?

Adina: One of my favorite students in Immigrant Finance School™, Carey, told me about the Strategic Impact Fund Scholarship for the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) certification, and encouraged me to apply. I told her I would only consider it if she would apply too because she also had dreams of becoming a financial counselor. She agreed. We both wrote recommendation letters for each other. I am pleased to share we were both accepted into the scholarship program and are now both pursuing the AFC certification.

I also did some research and learned that one of my favorite podcasters and financial educators, Jen Hemphill of Her Dinero Matters, is an AFC. When my husband and I were trying to find resources on finances for immigrants back in 2013, Jen’s podcast, focused on finances for the Latina community, was one of the only relevant resources we could find. She helped us feel more supported.

AFCPE: The road to building a business isn’t always easy. What advice would you give to others who are thinking about starting their own business?

Adina: Get out of your head and start playing and being messy. The faster you can start talking with actual real people in your ideal audience, the better. Create something that actual people you are talking to need, not what you think they need, and focus on solving problems.

AFCPE: As you look ahead to this year and beyond, what has you most excited?

Adina: I am incredibly excited about the unlimited potential that online business offers the immigrant community to increase income, accelerate financial goals, build generational wealth, help others, and make an impact. It has never been easier than it is today to start a business. The startup costs are low and the number of people you can help is infinite. Online business provides one of the greatest opportunities we’ve ever seen to democratize who has access to creating new valuable structures and solutions in the world and to building wealth. The economy is shifting to become a primarily online marketplace and immigrants need to be part of that shift so they can stay ahead of the curve and take part in the new digital economy. When I think about immigrants leading this major economic shift online, I am filled with hope for a better world. Immigrants have always been the ones to lead change, innovate, and build new systems and structures in this country. There’s a reason about half of the Fortune 500 companies have been started by immigrants or their children! We want to see immigrants leading the new digital economy, just as immigrants have always led major economic developments in this country.

AFCPE: Anything else you’d like to share with the AFCPE community?

Adina: Immigrants have particular financial circumstances and require unique financial plans. And for immigrants who lack legal status and work authorization (and are therefore not able to work as employees for someone else) starting a business can be a great way to increase and diversify income and build wealth legally.

Adina Answers the Friday 5:

  1. My Why: All immigrants and their families should live the lives they deserve. Because immigrants and their families deserve to build generational wealth too.
  2. My Favorite Quote: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”― Paulo Coelh
  3. My Hero: Our 1 ½ year old daughter – her curiosity, joy, and clear sense of what she wants inspire me constantly.
  4. My Favorite Resource: podcasts
  5. My favorite advice:
    • For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: The hardest part is making the decision to trust yourself, and trust that you deserve to have financial stability, build wealth, and live the life you deserve.
    • For a new professional: Think about the unique needs that different individuals will have when it comes to financial planning. On many financial matters, there won’t be a right or wrong answer and instead your clients will require a more nuanced strategy weighing the pros and cons based on their unique circumstances.

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