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When you first come to the United States, it can be difficult to understand the jargon and terms surrounding the financial part of your life.

Courtesy of Village Portland, here are a few tips for building your monthly budget, maintaining good credit, and transferring funds to those you care about in your home country.

Understand how housing factors into your monthly budget

Whether housing takes out a big chunk of your monthly budget will depend on which part of the country you are residing in.

For example, large metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Portland, and even Nashville boast a lot of great amenities that can include community organizations, restaurants, public transportation, the ability to walk to work, and exciting nightlife. However, renting a one-bedroom apartment for yourself or a house for your family can cost you a pretty penny, especially if you find a spot you like in a more popular area.

Build your credit

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The renting process may be different where you live, but if you are planning on leasing an apartment or house, experts agree on one thing: having good credit gets you approved faster.

This may not sound like a big deal to someone who has a credit score already, but if you don’t, you will need to build your credit by opening a bank account, paying bills on time, and opening a US-based credit card to establish a line of credit.

When you move to the United States, you usually have to start fresh with credit even if you have a long history of good credit in your home country. This is great news for some and bad news for others.

For a quick route to building credit from zero, inquire at your bank about a secured credit card or using your home country’s credit to open a new card.

Set up a reliable way to care for family back home

Most immigrants, though they may have come alone or with a partner to the United States, are far from being alone in the world. If you have family back home, such as parents, grandparents, or even dependents that you are supporting with your newly earned finances, one of the first things you should do after you get your first paycheck is set up a safe way to transfer money to your loved ones back home.

For example, if you’re sending money to your family in Bangalore, companies like Remitly make sending money to family in India easy and fast. In fact, some options allow you to transfer funds within four hours, and you will always get a great exchange rate.

If you’d prefer to send care packages to family and friends overseas, there are a number of resources online that can guide you through the process. Care Package Ideas breaks down the dos and don’ts of packing care packages for international shipping. Meanwhile, Parcelhero showcases the types of items you can’t ship to other countries. It’s important to do your research before you get started.

Last but not least, you can use international calling companies like Rebtel or download free software such as Zoom or Skype to stay in touch. If you own an Apple product, FaceTime allows an easy way to make free video calls. Even if you can’t afford to send money or care packages, sometimes a comforting chat is all everyone needs.

Living as an immigrant in a new country can be challenging even if you already speak the native language. The rules, customs, and financial processes can differ greatly from your home country, and you will likely encounter many small obstacles on the way to financial success and seeking citizenship if this is the path you choose.

Remember, all of this is completely normal, and it gets easier with practice and time.


As a former librarian, Diane noticed that a lot of people would come in looking for more information on various health and medical conditions whether it was for their own personal research or after the diagnosis of a family member or friend. This is what inspired her to begin her writings.