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5 Reasons Why Immigrants Are More Wealthy Than You

Did you know that immigrants are 4 times more likely to be millionaires than those that are born in the USA? This is a staggering statistic that I learned a few years ago and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Immigrants are more wealthy than you because they understand the opportunity. Those of us that have grown up with this amazing opportunity should be ashamed of our complacency.

5 Reasons Why Immigrants Are More Wealthy Than You

For those of you that know me, you know that I’m a hamburger and hot dog kind of guy. While I don’t think this will ever change, my wife is still trying to expand my very selective palette. Just a couple of weeks ago she decided that my taste buds were in need of an awakening, so off we went to China Kitchen.

This restaurant was quite small and was designed to handle mostly take-out. As I viewed the employees, it was fairly evident that they were a family. The young boy (I pegged him as an 11 year old) took our order and the adults were cooking and cleaning. The operation was fairly simple, but you could tell they did quite a lot of business.

I would dare say that my wife and I were standing amongst millionaires. If they were not at that moment, I bet they are well on their way.

1) They Are Not Materialistic

Immigrants do not come to the United States to expand their credit and put their furniture on a 50 month 0% interest plan… They are content if they have a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. They couldn’t care less about the new 60″ television that can pause and rewind.

Related: The Key to Start Living the Life of Your Dreams Today

2) They Are Savers

Americans might just be the worst savers in the world. Even when things are bleak, we save only 5% of our earnings.

Want to know why immigrants are more wealthy than you?

It’s not unheard of for them to save 15-20% of their income (or even more!). Therefore, less of their money is going to depreciating assets. Instead, much of the immigrants’ income is appreciating,  either in a savings account or another investment fund.

3) They Are Risk-Averse

While Americans tend to save very little, the amount that we do save is often placed in unsafe markets because we are greedy. We want to make more than 10% on our money each year, and most of the time it gets the best of us. Rather than earning our massive return, we often enter into a few bad deals which negate much of our overall profits.

Immigrants are more wealthy than you because they take a much different approach. Rather than try to “beat the market”, they are content to gain a smaller return on their savings and decrease the overall risk tremendously. In the end, they often earn a higher return that us Americans because they hardly ever choose a losing investment.

4) They Keep Their Expenses Low

The family we met at China Kitchen most likely consists of grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews, but rather than renting 3 or 4 different apartments, they all live together and travel together. This reduces their expenses in a huge way! When the bills are divided among 8 people rather than 2, it really makes a big difference.

5) Profits Are Reinvested in the Business

Many immigrants are entrepreneurs and earn quite a hefty sum each year. If we Americans were earning a large amount of money, we’d most likely buy a brand new sports car or a house on the lake to show off our wealth. Not the immigrants. They’ll take those earnings and reinvest in their business, which will earn them a much larger sum in the future.

Don’t Take This Opportunity For Granted

If you are currently reading this article within the United States (or Canada), I suggest you get off your duff and learn something from those 1st generation immigrants. We have a great opportunity in this nation and we should not squander it.

It’s true, immigrants are more wealthy than you. What are you currently doing to take advantage of  this land of opportunity?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Not surprised by the report. Immigrants left their home country in order to have a better life. The memory of harder times is still fresh in their minds.

    • You got it. If there is work available, they’ll take the hours. Immigrants don’t take anything for granted.

  2. I think immigrants do have a better grasp on the idea of a better life, considering that some/most are leaving places we (Americans) can’t imagine. Sure we try to imagine but we’ll never have a true clue. Americans tend to think a better life means bigger TVs, nicer clothes and a huge house.

    • Yep. There are so many Americans that brag about the size of their television. I just don’t get it. “Hey, check it out, this is where I spend all my time and it’s the sole reason why I’m still poor….” Can you tell I don’t like television? 😉

  3. I think it’s true and I’ve always thought about this very thing!

    • I love the work ethic of immigrants. They deserve their success.

  4. Many other countries are known for living under the same roof as in-laws, grandparents, cousins, etc. It’s great to pull the resources…but I guess I also like my privacy and love nest with the hubby:).

    We have offered our home to various siblings and will continue to do so.

    • I think I could handle having relatives live with me, but it certainly wouldn’t be fun. I also enjoy my love nest with my wife.

      • I think you would feel differently if living in a joint family was all you knew. My parents are from “the Developing World” and were used to living with large families in small spaces. People in the US have real luxury when it comes to “personal space.”

  5. Perhaps these five principles can be further distilled:
    live below your means and be secure in your own skin (without material embellishments).

    • Pretty much! The key to wealth is so simple, but very few of us actually get there.

  6. I am not surprised by this either. We do a lot of traveling and although we don’t meet immigrant per say, we meet locals from other countries. We have found that many of the things you mention are true, especially around the materialistic part. When we were in Cambodia this past year, we met some awesome people. They were so happy and friendly it was inspiring. Not one was stressed or worried about how much they had. What mattered to them was spending time with those they cared about.

    • It is amazing how simply some people live isn’t it? I really want to travel more – it will make me appreciate what I have so much more.

  7. Generally, immigrants are also very, very motivated to succeed — and they don’t have an expectation of what things “should” be like that they spend their time chasing. As far as what I’m doing, I actually do everything you listed above except living in a multigenerational household. It does make a huge difference.

    • That’s awesome that you meet 4 of the 5 reasons for wealth! You are well on your way I’m sure!

  8. I love the immigrant’s story. No job is beneath them, and it is about work ethic and focus!

    • It sure it! We can learn a lot from immigrants.

  9. Maybe the message is work together for the good of the family and we all succeed.

    • That is a good way to look at it too! Put family first and wealth will come as a result.

  10. The problem in the western world is the need for instant gratification. Something immigrants don’t typically have. Most folks see the latest HDTV, iPhone, fancy car, or nice clothes, and they feel that they have to “have” them right now. When you have to “have” something right away you are most likely not to save any money, or even have any money leftover for investing.

    • Delayed gratification is the key to wealth! Those that buy things immediately will most likely never be wealthy.

  11. Add in not having the attitude of being a victim. I picture the typical immigrant as being able to solve their own problems… not wallow in them and waiting for someone else to fix things.

    • Right. You’ve got to set aside your victum mentality before success can happen. Anyone that points fingers will never get ahead in life.

  12. I have the highest respect for immigrants. I love that this nation is built on layer upon layer of immigration. We are all richer for it, in many ways.

    • Me too! Our wide variety of nationalities makes our country great! I love that immigrants are setting the pace.

  13. It’s amazing how strongly correlated your work ethic is to your background. Nice article.

    • Very true! Thanks for the comment WOF!

  14. I agree 100%. I actually went as far as interviewing my neighbor on his financial ways so I can gain a better understanding. What I learned on top of the 5 things you listed is that back home is much much worse. They do not have a sense of entitlement. They know that their results come from what they put into it. The biggest thing I learned was to let go of my entitlement and focus on my goals. Reaching my goals as quick as possible is much better than driving a Porche Panamera Turbo (I tell myself this everyday lol)_

    • It’s pretty easy to be motivated when you’ve seen such poverty in your life.

      About the Porche. I love the car, but it’s pretty easy for me to avoid buying it because there’s not a chance I would fit into it. 😉

  15. The question is: Do these traits also appear in their children when they grow up? The melting pot will absorb their children sooner or later.

    • You’re right, the melting pot absorbs the children. I’ve heard that 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants are much less wealthy; sometimes back into poverty.

      • My ex is from Ukraine. Her parents moved here 17 years ago (she was 6 at the time), and they are now doing quite well for themselves now. She, on the other hand, is not. While she is a hard worker and extremely intelligent, she does not have the motivation that they did, because she never experienced what her parents had. So, Derek, I completely believe that immigrants are more wealthy than many of us; and BeatingTheIndex: I would say sometimes yes, and other times (as is the case with my ex) no.

        I apologize for the long post!

        • Makes complete sense though. Thanks for the comment (I don’t mind the long ones)! 🙂

  16. I would add that they also work their asses off! It’s an over gneralization but from my experience, those that come to the US from another country work twice as hard to give their kids what they’ve always wanted. The process of immigrants integrating into society is beneficial for all parties.

    • You’ve got that right. They don’t know what a 40 hour workweek is. Often, they’ll work 70+ hours a week.

  17. I learned on top of the 5 things you listed is that back home is much much worse. They do not have a sense of entitlement. | 😛

    • Yep. We in America often say, I really deserve this expensive item, even if we don’t have the money….

  18. Absolutely believe it is all about the non-materialistic nature of entrepreneurial immigrants. They don’t care what they are driving or what they are wearing…

    I am curious if there are any studies done with the 2nd generation that have been here?

    • I actually heard that 2nd generation immigrants are often poor. Any idea why that is? Perhaps they aren’t as motivated because they don’t know the poverty that their parents came from.

  19. The specified reasons are true. Immigrants are known that they are going to spend a bit amount of their life in that country and they follow these 5 reasons which will help them to spend a safe life. Immigrants are wealthier because they save money for their future.

    • Yep! Those immigrants know what’s truly important and don’t get distracted by the “stuff”.

  20. I’m also not surprised. I think that our American culture has become very materialistic. I’m trying to change my attitudes (and thankfully I’ve never really been very materialistic to begin with) but there is something to be said about greed. It’s really up to the individual on whether or not they want to buy into the consumerism of America. Ad agencies and marketing companies really work the heck out of consumers. We need better reasoning skills so that we can make better decisions with our money. (I guess this is partly up to me to work with students on this – strong reasoning skills help decipher propaganda and allow people to make better decisions.) I’ve got my work cut out for me. 😉

    • Really, it’s as simple as thinking long-term instead of immediatly buying something because you think it’s cool in the present. If you’re thinking long-term, you’ll realize that this item won’t help you acheive those long-term goals.

  21. Great post Derek, and not surprised at all. The downside comes when some immigrant families spoil their descendants too much. They understandably want to give them a better life, but making it too easy on them can backfire.

    • Thats a good point IIW. They might lavish their children with stuff they didn’t have when they were young, but in doing so, their children do not learn the value of earning things for themselves; hence, they may become complacent and unmotivated.

  22. I think there also exists a myth that all immigrants who come to the U.S. do not get caught up in the materialism culture. Growing up in a developing country, all I saw on tv was the glorification of having it all in the american culture. The money, flashy cars and clothes. Needless to say,when I moved here twelve years ago, i vowed to succeed but success to me was the pursuit of the same materialism I saw on tv. I know immigrants from all walks of life and if you look underneath the surface, most go through the same cycle I did, live beyond their means, drive flashy cars and are probably way in over their head in debt. I’ve decided to document my experience as well as my interaction with other immigrants to show that we also get caught up in the instant gratification cycle.

    • That’s true. Of course it can go both ways. How are you doing with your debt load? Is it paid off? Sounds like a cool story.

  23. Our goal (married, two kids) is to become partially debt free in about four years. That includes paying off two car loans, $40k personal loan and 11k in unsecured debt. Of course we’ll still have the mortgage and student loans.

  24. This is reminiscent of the info in The Millionaire Next Door book. That immigrant advantage disappears in subsequent generations.

    • Yep. Through the generations, the wealth seems to disintegrate. Kind of sad, but it always seems to happen.

  25. This is so so True. When Immgrants come to the western World, They appreciate what they have and work very hard. They do not over-indulge like most do. You’re right Derek, We should be ashamed of ourselves.

    • I’m trying to throw away my American ways! The first thing I did was remove my television from my home. It’s been 3 months and I don’t miss it at all. I’ve been earning more money and reading more books with purpose. I love it!

  26. Maybe lots of immigrants come to the united states to make money. Im sure that many immigrants come here for a better life for themselves and their children. But economic reasons can be many. The percentage of immigrants that own a business of their own is far higher than the non immigrate population. Immigrants from india and other countries around the world especially europe and asia seem to be a whole lot more successful economically than immigrants from south america. For various reasons.

    • Yep, but either way, they seem to have the drive, and we Americans do not!

  27. I am an immigrant myself. I have been living in the US for about 4 years. I can tell you one more piece that completes this puzzle. We immigrants, regardless of our origins, tend to live based on cash and we do not trust our credit cards too much. We try to live off cash and at points when we cannot afford things, we just tighten the belts!

    • I love to hear this Elshan because I live solely off cash as well! It is a fantastic way to live, both for the present and for the future. Thanks so much for the comment!

  28. lots of shaming going on here. Just gotta add that tons and tons of immigrants are on government handouts. there are also special business loans set aside for immigrants that Americans who have been here a while can’t get. My Irish ancestors didn’t have any such things and they did very well for themselves. No shame here and no guilt!

    • Either way, immigrants know the opportunity they have and they take advantage while Americans just whine and complain and stay broke. It’s kind of like 1st generation millionaires vs. trust fund babies. The former will work hard and prosper while the latter will piddle their money away and leave nothing for their descendants.

      • I agree. With all this obnoxious talk about immigrants being awful for America, I beg to differ. with the decks already stacked against them they are super eager to prove themselves and work hard, scrimping on the things that aren’t a necessity. They provide for their families on very little and very often work at jobs that we Americans think are below them. My great grandmother had a sixth grade education but worked her butt off saving all that she could to provide a better life for her family. In the end she owned 3 Apartment buildings! And she worked as a cleaning lady!

        • Very cool story, Angela! Thanks for sharing!!

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