Along the Way with Kara Perez, Founder of Bravely


This week, as part of my Along the Way Interview Series, I’m talking to Kara Perez. As the founder of Bravely, blog about finance for women, Kara is building an online community for women to be empowered with financial tools and knowledge.

Today, she shares how she went from low-income with debt, to hustling five different jobs, to working for herself full-time.

The Along the Way Interview Series features kick-ass women who are putting their heart and soul into achieving their dreams. Rather than talking to those who have already “made it,” this series focuses on learning from those who are right next to us in the daily hustle.

If you want to follow Kara and Bravely, you can find her here:

Facebook || Twitter || Instagram

Without further ado, let’s chat with Kara about how she pursues her vision.

What exactly is a side hustle? And why do you love them as opposed to having a full-time job or focusing on a single project?

A side hustle is any way you earn income outside of a full-time job. I don't know that I love side hustles...I think they can be an important tool in someone's financial toolbox, along with a full-time job or business.

I personally utilized side hustles to their max because I couldn't find a full-time job! No one hired me full-time after college, so I maximized my side hustle potential.

I don't think everyone should do that, especially if you're in a field where you can advocate for higher pay. People with full-time jobs they like should max out their pay scale there before they look to a side hustle, as a side hustle will demand time, energy, and may come with a learning curve.

You talk about how you realized you needed to change your money habits and pay off debt, what was the straw the broke the camel’s back right then, instead of, say, a year before or after?

I was 26, and it felt like time. Beyond time! My friends were succeeding, getting raises, traveling and I was not able to do those things. Every day was a struggle and I just got tired of struggle that lead nowhere.

You mentioned how hard it was to work five jobs and seven days a week. What kept you motivated?

Wanting to be debt free kept me motivated. It really was that simple. I wanted that more than anything else.

I knew how hard my life was because of low income and my debt, and I wanted to change that.

My life sucked anyway, so what was the difference if it sucked while I was working towards a real and concrete change? And my life got SO MUCH better once I was debt free. 10 months of hard work was beyond worth it.

And maybe a better question, how did you manage your time and keep up with it all?

My jobs had different requirements; catering is a weekend heavy job for example. Freelancing can be done whenever, as long as it's done by the deadline. So working in different areas helped manage it all. I also write down EVERYTHING on my calendar on my phone. If it wasn't there, it didn't exist.

What productivity or motivation hacks do you keep today?

Man, I kind of hate the word hack. There's no real 'hack', there's just different levels of outsourcing.

So, my first tip is to stop thinking you can beat the system. It's more about learning how to work within the system. That's what all those hacks people with money are talking about mean—they got the system to work for them, they didn't dismantle the system.

I still put everything on my calendar, and I block my time. I spend mornings doing creative work and afternoons doing admin work. I use Planoly for Instagram scheduling and Hootsuite for Twitter.

How did Bravely start? What made you want to share your financial journey with the world?

This post details how I started Bravely, including my start-up costs! Read it here!

Will you always have a side hustle? And why or why not?

No. Now that I do Bravely full-time, it's about creating multiple streams of income under the umbrella of Bravely. I don't need to be working a non-related job if I want Bravely to succeed. I can't devote my time and energy to others when I'm trying to build my own business.

I'm also past the point where side hustles are necessary; I am debt free, I have a consistently low cost of living expenses, and I have 8 months living expenses in an emergency fund.

What does it mean to have your money under control vs out of control?

This is a very personal question for each person. But I'd say, if your money stresses you out, or makes you sad or angry, you are out of control. In general, money should make you feel comfortable and powerful if you're in control of it.

What are the biggest money mistakes you see women make? And how can these be corrected?

I'd like to reframe this question. It's not really about personal mistakes, but the problematic system we live in.

Women don't make more mistakes than men, but we live in a world where we face more challenges. The biggest problem—not mistake—is the wage gap. We simply have less money coming in than most men, and that has long-lasting and far-reaching impacts.

We invest less because we have less. If women earn more, many problems would go away. So I think the downfall of sexism is a good correction to strive for! :) Obviously, this is a complex problem, but I think pay transparency in companies is a huge step, forward.

What are the biggest money mistakes you see entrepreneurs make? And how can these be corrected?

The biggest mistake is not treating their business like a business, and thus not getting financially and legally organized.

Often, people start businesses because they love doing something. They love social media, so they become a freelance social media manager. They love knitting, so they start selling knitwear at markets. But they don't take the time to learn about their new tax obligations or to organize an invoicing system.

Businesses are not hobbies; they are legal entities that need a structure to thrive. You have to do the legwork upfront so that you don't get bitten in the ass come tax season, or god forbid, hit by a lawsuit about a copyright you didn't know about.  

What are your goals for Bravely in the next five to ten years?

I want to be Oprah. No joke! I want a Bravely empire that is helping millions of women handle their money correctly. I want to do more and bigger events, to branch into different mediums, and to get outside of Austin.

Along the WayRebekah Epstein