Money Matters Presented by Freshbooks: Fear, Love, and Business

Image by Raw Pixel

Image by Raw Pixel

Written by Kara Perez

My adulthood has been colored by financial anxiety. For the first three years out of college, I worked as a waitress. No one cared about my English degree when I graduated in 2011, and the longer I went without getting a ‘real’ job, the harder it became.

Today, I own Bravely, a pop up financial education events company. We host events around the US that center on different money topics. We also offer money coaching, publish three articles a week that discuss money, and have a thriving community where women come to learn and talk about money. To say that money is my my whole life is no exaggeration.

Current day me is obsessed with money. I love talking about it, I love earning it, and I love using it to design a life I’m excited to live.

Earlier iterations of me had very different relationships with me. 26 year old me, for example, was afraid money. She had thousands in student loan debt, she was only making about $18,000 a year, and she had no financial knowledge. I look back and wish so many things were different then- but it was this same fear of money that ended up changing my life.

Bravely was founded with $3,300 that I saved in part from a catering side hustle, and in part from the sale of an old blog. My business is growing, and it’s been profitable from it’s first year. But it also had to be, because I depended on its profits to pay my bills. Bravely couldn’t take two years to get into the black.

I started Bravely after paying off $18,000 in student loan debt in 10 months, on a $32,000 income that came from piecing together a plethora of jobs. I was a caterer ($12/hr) and a part time receptionist at an MMA gym ($9/hr). I coached high school lacrosse in the spring, and I picked up part time PA gigs. I worked as a full time nanny for a week once and made $800.

Paying off my debt was the single greatest thing I had ever done, and it felt amazing. It also brought my net worth up to $0. I wasn’t in debt anymore, but I didn’t have any more either. My primary goal after becoming debt free was to start building savings and investments, so that I could be as far away from broke as possible.

I was intensely focused on this goal, and at the same time, I was getting ready to start Bravely. I wanted to bring the same financial education to other women that I had learned, so that they could change their own lives. Learning about money is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I firmly believe that women having more money, and knowing how to use it, is the first step to an equal society.

My financial anxiety around not having financial stability was suddenly magnified by the anxiety of being a small business owner. The fluctuating income, the need to reinvest in your business instead of drawing everything in profit- money took on a new type of stress as a business owner.

Plus, it felt like everywhere I look, other small business owners were thriving. They were posting larger income reports on their blogs. They had more Instagram followers. I saw people traveling when I couldn’t, and buying things I didn’t have the money for.

As I was building a business and building my own personal savings, I was getting lost in the comparison trap. Peering through the windows of other people’s lives via social media was fanning my anxiety, and making me feel bad about where and who I was.

The first year of business, Bravely did make a profit. Not a huge one, but I was more proud of that than of paying off my debt. And it made me realize that, anxious as I was, I was doing the thing. I was running my own business successfully. What could I do if I turned down the things that were stressing me out, and turned up the things that were working?

I got myself into therapy to find coping mechanisms for my anxiety. I muted people on social media that make me feel competitive or bad about myself. I stopped consuming hustle porn- those articles that advise waking up at 4am and working 17 hours a day, eating only kale and chicken. It didn’t work for me, and I needed to find what did.

Today, Bravely is coming up on it’s third birthday. We’ve hosted events across the US, and I pay two people to help me on a part time basis. I don’t make six figures, but I have built a solid financial foundation under myself. I’m doing work that I love, with communities I care about, and I am in a better financial, and mental, health than ever before in my life.

Money can come with a lot of different emotions. It can be a source of joy and one of stress. I tell my coaching clients that money is a journey- you keep moving forward. Nothing about your life has to be absolute, least of all your money.

Photo by Shane Henderson

Photo by Shane Henderson

Bravely was founded in January 2017 by Kara Perez. Kara discovered her love of finances courtesy of her quarter-life crisis. Broke, underemployed and saddled with student loan debt, she realized that her lack of financial education was crippling her adulthood. Kara paid off $25,302 in loans on a salary of less than $30,000, the final $18,000 in just ten months. After becoming debt free in June 2015, Kara created Bravely to help other women take control of their financial lives.

This blog is sponsored by Freshbooks, though all the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are those of the writer and approved by Pass/Fail. Freshbooks is a cloud based small business accounting software. Send invoices, track time, manage receipts, expenses, and accept credit cards. They make managing every aspect of your business easier, whether that’s project workflow, billing, or following up with clients who haven’t paid you yet. Pass/Fail readers can get two months free to give it a try by clicking here.

Chelsea Francis