Tatyana Salamatova, 26, came to the U.S. from Russia in 2010, when the international logistics company she worked for sent her here to study English. But after Tatyana met her now-husband, she decided to stay. Today, she works as a bartender and is saving up to start her own business. She has a master’s degree in finance, which helps her manage her and her husband’s spending and plan for the future.
OYO: How did you feel about money growing up?
Tatyana S.: I felt it can give you freedom and growth in society. If you’re poor, your friends mostly will be poor and you’ll stay in that society level if you don’t grow into a middle or higher class.
OYO: Did you feel like your family was poor?
TS: I wouldn’t say poor. My mom was a teacher and my father worked in an aluminum factory. So they were living paycheck to paycheck, as everybody says in the U.S. We didn’t have extra money, but we had enough for food, clothes, a big house and utilities. But my father drove an old car and was saving up to buy a new one for a long time.
OYO: Growing up, did your parents give you money that you had to manage?
TS: Yes, all the time for expenses. I needed money to bus to school and buy lunch. If I cheated a little, I would have some saved. I could skip lunch, for example, and then that money would stay with me. Or if I walked, I could save the bus money.
OYO: What’s the worst money experience you’ve ever had?
TS: Barbie dolls were super expensive in Russia, and when I was probably 5, I asked my mom to buy me one. She said, “No, we can’t, so stop asking.” At that moment, I got it in my mind that when I have a child, I don’t want to have to say no.
OYO: When did you first feel financially on your own?
TS: When I moved here. It’s hard to send money [from Russia], and I didn’t want my parents to be responsible for my decision to live here, so I forced myself to find a job and stick to it.
OYO: Do you and your husband have a budget?
TS: I have a budget; he doesn’t. He’s just part of my budget. I’m much better with money, so I pay the bills. Six years of university taught me that you need to be responsible and count everything.
OYO: What is your personal philosophy about money?
TS: Money needs to be working all the time. Since I started from no money [in the U.S.], to make money work, I first needed to make money. Now I need to save money while I’m working. I sacrifice now to save enough to put into investments or a business.