Please welcome XY Planning Network member and financial planner Pamela Capalad to the blog! Pam is the founder of Brunch and Budget -- and is skilled at finding incredible opportunities to share financial literacy and improve people's financial lives beyond one-on-one planning.
I sometimes feel like I got into the financial planning business sideways. I graduated with a degree in Literature, produced plays throughout college, and was sure I’d end up being a writer, working in publishing, or being a starving something.
My journey to this industry began because I didn’t want to work retail again the next summer. I started scouring Craigslist for something that sounded fun and not mind-numbing.
I came across this ad for a thing called “The Money Camp” and thought, well, it has the word camp in it, so that could be fun. I had tutored in the past and have always liked kids, so I shrugged and answered the ad.
The camps were a week long, with kids ages 10-13 or 13-17 and I was scheduled to run four of them that first summer. I had enlisted a friend to co-teach with me and we went through a week of training and shadowed a camp session the week before. We were ready.
We showed up at the first day of our first camp session, our big curriculum binders in our arms, and watched as the kids trickled in for the next half an hour.
I opened my mouth to start camp and knew from that moment that this was going to be a terrible week.
The kids literally gave no sh*ts about what we were trying to teach them. We had no idea how to get their attention, and when we did, we couldn’t keep it for long. Worksheets turned into paper airplanes. Kids straight up told us this was boring.
It was one of the longest weeks of my life.
Until we started the second camp session.
Realizing the Impact of Financial Education and Literacy
Halfway through the second week, which was turning out to be as difficult as the first, my friend and I contemplated quitting. Firing ourselves. Telling our boss that we just weren’t cut out for this.
I don’t know what made us decide to stick it out (besides our moral obligations and fear of admitting failure), but we did. We finished Week 2 as strongly as we could and created a game plan for Week 3.
After all, we’d made all the mistakes we possibly could already, right? How much worse could it get?
We went into our third camp session with plans to tag team classroom management, keep the energy as high as we could, and figured out how to either make the boring parts more interesting or move more quickly through them.
We finished our first day of our third week and could not believe it. The kids were actually having fun! Learning about money!
We closed out the summer with two amazing camps and watched kids learn about completing budgets, creating savings goals, starting businesses, investing in the stock market, and tackling credit cards.
They saw the magic of compound interest, were in awe when we described 401k match plans, and were reciting mantras like “Pay Yourself First” as if it was second nature.
By the end of that first summer, I saw how powerful this stuff actually was. And I couldn’t believe I didn’t get this information when I was in school!
I spent two more summers with The Money Camp while finishing my Literature degree and also helped run their adult workshops and teacher training programs during the school year. I started to get my own finances together, researched the best banks, found the best credit cards, and was hungry for more information.
When I graduated, I felt like I had a purpose. I was going to teach kids about money!
Except for one thing: what the hell did I know about money?
Up to that point, my total experience with finances was that I taught a handful of financial literacy camps in my spare time and read articles online.
I started to feel myself hitting a wall when it came to knowing what I needed to learn next. I realized I had to actually go into the financial industry and find out what I was missing.
(Officially) Finding My Way in the Financial Planning Industry
Over the next few months, I made the decision to move from Santa Barbara, California to New York City so I could pursue a financial services career. I reached out to someone I had met during a teacher training who happened to be a financial planner in Manhattan, and he helped me get my foot in the door at his wealth management firm.
With $3,000 in credit card debt and $1,000 in cash to my name, I shipped all my stuff across the country and dove into a completely different life.
I went into this first job with an exit strategy. I would learn everything I needed to know about finances and create financial literacy curriculum for kids along the way. Once I had everything I needed, I would go back to teaching kids about money.
Yeah, totally, except for the part where it was really hard and took a long time to even be considered mediocre at this job.
At the same time, the only thing that got me through the really hard parts (besides, like, foot massages and mac&cheese) was knowing that I was doing all of this so I could provide financial literacy to people who needed it the most.
When I finally had clarity in that mission, it opened me up to what was possible to do in this field.
Creating and Launching My Own Business to Serve Others
This is how Brunch & Budget started. I literally started trading food for financial advice one day with a few friends who said they needed a lot of help. They started to tell their friends, who started to tell their friends, and then someone offered to actually pay me one day and I was like, wait, really?
Thinking I might be onto something, I took a part time job at a different firm and started to make plans to build out Brunch & Budget forreal. I decided to go all in at the end of 2014, and 2015 marked the first year of working for myself full-time.
Financial Planning and Beyond
While my primary work is one-on-one financial planning, I’ve found other ways to make sure I fulfill the mission I originally set out to do.
I was given the amazing opportunity to host a weekly radio show on personal finance on an internet radio station called Bondfire Radio (don’t tell anyone, but I actually told the program director no for about 3 months because I was scared to say yes) and we will be at 100 shows by the summer.
It’s allowed me to provide free, approachable content to a population that normally doesn’t have access to this information.
In all this time, my commitment to educating kids has not wavered. I truly believe the most important step to changing our relationship with money is showing our kids what a healthy relationship with money looks like.
I’ve continued to teach financial literacy workshops for kids and in the last year, roped in my rapper/hip-hop educator boyfriend and we started teaching hip hop + finance workshops to teens and college students (which completely changed how kids related to the material, wow!).
At the end of 2015, we decided to take this show on the road and spent 6 weeks in California, booking workshops with professional organizations, youth programs, and artist communities (and the occasional rap show), living off Airbnb (as both as guests and hosts), and showing our dog around the country.
We even got portable podcast equipment so we wouldn’t miss a week for the radio show.
Because my financial planning work is virtual and because my clients are awesome, I was able to maintain similar levels of client service the entire time we were traveling.
One-on-one financial planning is a very critical piece to providing financial literacy education, but I’ve learned that it’s not the only one. Any time you get the opportunity to make people feel more in control, more secure, and more free about their finances, you’ve given them a little piece of their life back.
As professionals in the financial field, we have the privilege to be able to so much more than rebalance someone’s portfolio or tell them how much life insurance they need. We have the privilege to be able to show people what their lives could look like instead.
And when you’re given that privilege, it doesn’t matter how you share it, it just matters that you share it in every way you know how.
About the Author: Pam Capalad is a Certified Financial Planner™ who has been in the financial services industry for over 7 years -- and who spent a lot of those years at wealth management firms. (If you're really curious where, check out her LinkedIn profile.) She now runs Brunch & Budget, a financial planning firm based in Brooklyn, NY that serves clients virtually across the country.
Pam wanted to find a way to help the average person with their finances. She also realized it’s a pretty scary thing for people to face, even though it's something we have to deal with every day. One day, she was sitting around a fire pit with a friend who said she really needed help with her money, but was afraid to talk about it. Pam said, "we should do it over brunch" -- and immediately, her friend's shoulders relaxed and her eyes lit up. “Yes! Let’s do, like, a brunch and budget!”
And the rest is history.