Pamela Capalad is a Certified Financial Planner® and founder of her firm Brunch & Budget. Pamela believes that financial advising should be about “empowering you to take control and recognize that you have the knowledge and confidence to find true freedom and happiness.”
Pamela has been featured in media outlets sucPh as CNBC, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, InvestmentNews, Financial Planning, and more.
I got the opportunity to chat with Pamela and hear her best financial tips, greatest professional achievements, and her thoughts on the reported shortage of women in the financial services industry.
Why did you decide to work in the financial industry?
Well, it’s a little bit of a long story. I was a literature major and I needed a summer job. I looked on Craigslist and found a Money Camp for children and teens and thought it sounded fun. I ended up teaching youth about budgeting, investing, and being an entrepreneur the whole summer and I loved it! I did this for three summers and then I graduated university.
I realized I was passionate about teaching money, but I didn’t have a finance background. I found a job in financial services and decided I was going to write a financial literacy curriculum and then go back to teaching kids for 2-3 years. It took way longer than 3 years; I thought I hated it at first.
I liked working one-on-one and in wealth management. Most of my friends didn’t work in finance and I ended up helping them with credit cards and retirement. I thought it was really cool to be able to help my peers and I finally hit my stride, so here I am today!
How long have you worked in the financial industry?
Since 2008, worst time ever!
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
My greatest professional achievement has been starting my own firm. I’m two years in, working for myself, and also doing financial literacy workshops.
I’ve been able to marry my two passions: helping my friends and their friends, and still being able to reach youth and teach youth about finance.
Going off of that, could be the same, but what achievement are you most proud of?
I’m so proud of my firm, Brunch & Budget, so pretty much the same thing as my greatest professional achievement.
On the personal side, I was a super fat kid when I was younger and I had gym teachers all through school tell me I was bad at running. In 2014 I ran a half marathon in Cambodia and trained for it for months. I had thought I was bad at running my whole life and I was able to sit back and think wow, I just did this! This was a very proud moment for me.
How do you define success?
Success is hard to define in a static phrase just because I like to think of it as a moving target. It’s in our nature to always want to do better, do more, and always make progress.
When you think of success like a moving target you can think of it in this sense: I’ve reached one point, aka, success! But what is the next step for me, how can I reach the next level?
What’s exciting about building something myself, like my firm, is that I have the ability to ask myself what’s next. I’m successful where I’m in a place where everything is running smoothly and I can ask myself what more I can do.
What leader inspires you?
In terms of inspiration, I don’t know if there’s a specific person. People that inspire me are the people on the ground. I host a weekly radio show/podcast and right now I have a partnership with CFED, featuring non-profits focused on exposing the racial wealth gap.
People in non-profits are so heroic and are able to give back to communities. For example, the Executive Director of Urban Alliance in the Baltimore office was able to get big companies, like Airbnb and AT&T to hire high school students to intern, pay, and mentor.
I love seeing initiatives where people are doing things with real impact. Naming one person is hard; I’m inspired by groups of people in the community collectively working towards a singular goal.
It’s been reported that there’s a shortage of women in the financial services industry. What do you think is the best solution to help encourage women to enter this industry?
I personally think you need to hire women to encourage them. Firms need to have deliberate hiring policies that are inclusive to women, like affirmative action.
It’s hard for women to get involved in finance because frankly, it’s hard to get a job. I know so many people will email me asking if I can hire them and it’s difficult because I can’t hire them all.
There needs to be more internship programs; if you’re not making an active effort to hire women, or just as importantly, people of colour, then little progress will be made.
What are the most common financial mistakes you see being made?
The biggest mistake I see is people getting caught up in the debt cycle. People will try to pay off debt as quickly as possible, but this is risky. Individuals will use their savings to pay off debt, but will get caught in an emergency, have no savings, and then they’re back in debt.
It’s critical to pay off debt and build up savings at the same time. It’ll take a bit longer to pay off the debt, but now you’ll have a cushion. People feel like the debt gets overwhelming, and that’s the trap of the debt cycle.
What’s your number one financial tip?
My number one tip is to spend money on the things you really value and figure out what that means for you. People don’t think about where their money is going, nor do they think about ‘I value this or that’ when spending money.
I won’t tell people to stop drinking coffee everyday if that is something of value to them. It’s important to figure out how to align spending with what you value.
We will always spend money on things that don't matter to us, but if you reflect and start to get a better understanding of what you truly value, your spending will align with your values more.
What’s a fun fact most people don’t know about you?
I’m learning to freestyle rap! My husband is a hip-hop educator. I’m not really good at it yet, but I’m in the middle of learning!