Financial feminist Kara Perez is the founder of Bravely Go, an award-winning international financial education company specifically aimed at women of color. Perez, who is half Dominican, was inspired to help her community after her own financial struggles and lack of financial literacy. She launched her blog to chronicle her journey toward paying off her student loan with a low-income job. She paid off $30,000 in debt plus interest working five different jobs and living on less than $1000 a month. She founded Bravely Go to create a community she never had to help with financial literacy and financial freedom. She’s also a regular HipLatina contributor talking all things finances including investing for retirement and NFTs.
Which Latina(s) have had the greatest impact on your life and why?
Of course my family, but outside of that, Justice Sotomayer and Shakira. I always say in my next life I’ll be a judge and seeing a Latina get to the highest court in the land was a huge moment for me. It just gave me so much strength to see “there’s nothing we can’t do, and now we are literally shaping the law of the land so many of us have always been on.” And for Shakira, I mean…to become such a huge star and stay on top for so long, while speaking five languages? We love to see it.
If you could meet a Latina icon who is no longer alive, who would it be and why?
Lolita Lebron. An advocate for Puerto Rican independence, she was part of an attack on the U.S. Congress and was imprisoned, then granted clemency by Jimmy Carter. She led such an unapologetic and chaotic life and I find women like that to be fascinating. Bold, strong women are punished so often in our world — and she was for sure— and while I’m not advocating for anyone to attack Congress, the fact that she marched into the halls of power to literally fight for her beliefs is something I would want to talk to her about.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Not to go all Nike on you, but just do it. Just freaking do it. No one is watching you as closely as you think they are, and no one is tracking your mistakes. You so often have very little to lose and everything to gain by taking action.
If you could pursue a career in an industry other than your own, what would it be and why?
Law. I considered going to law school and would like to practice criminal defense or environmental corporate law.
Who was the first person to believe in your dreams/goals?
Definitely my grandfather, he supported me and my activities as a little kid and he always assumed I would succeed at anything I did. He was just like: “yeah you can do that and do that well” and I carry that within me today. He gave me blind confidence and I think it was such a gift! Why CAN’T I be an entrepreneur? Why CAN’T I retire early? I’m just going to try and see what happens!
What do you wish more people understood about what you do?
That money is not just about earning more, it’s about managing and maintaining for yourself and your community. In personal finance the message is so often “get rich ASAP and fuck others!” and I really try to lean into the “we’re all part of a community here and so let’s win together.”
What motivates you?
Talking with others and seeing what others are doing in spaces I care about. I’m so inspired by the views and energy that other people bring to their work and the issues they care about. I want to show up in the same passionate and helpful way in my work.
How did you end up on the professional path you’re on now?
After graduating in 2011 with $25,302 in debt and no job, I moved to Austin TX, and waited tables for 3 years, living on less than $19,000 a year. In 2014 I earned $16,360. In 2015, I earned $22,916. In 2014 my quarter-life crisis made me realize: Holy shit- I need to figure out finances fast.
After some frantic Googling, I started a blog to chronicle paying off my student loans on my low income. I paid off my final $18,000 in 10 months, while earning about $22,916 for the year. I worked five different part-time jobs to do so, and lived on less than $1000 a month. After paying off $30,000 total in student loan debt plus interest, I founded Bravely to be the community that I didn’t have: women, talking real numbers, and making big financial changes.
What is your greatest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?
Professionally, I think I’m most proud of the online community I’ve built. Not just the numbers, but the people in it. I have mutual aid as a part of my business model, and others will literally jump into the conversation and say “I also want to give away $40” or something and it’s so pure. I love it.
Personally, my debt payoff journey. It changed my whole life and it was the hardest I ever worked at something.
What is a goal you have that you haven’t accomplished yet and what are you doing to get closer to accomplishing it?
Buying a house! I want to try and do it this year as an unmarried self-employed person so wish me luck. I’ve saved $55,000 for the down payment and closing costs and I’m working on building up my renovation fund now.
What pop culture moment made you feel seen?
Rihanna when she answered a reporter asking when she was gonna have kids with “I got tons of work to do hunny.” Why do we insist all women be focused on having kids? Rihanna handling that with her trademark “are you stupid” attitude was awesome.
How do you practice self care?
Time away from the internet and long walks with friends. I love walking and I try to get in a 15k walk by myself or a friend once a week. It’s wonderful to move my body in an easy way, talk with someone about important things, and being outside.
Shoutout an Instagram account that could use more love and tell us why you’re a fan:
I love the art that Stephanie Vidal (@vivid.vidal) makes and when I buy my house I’ll definitely have some of it on my walls
Shoutout your favorite Latina owned business and why: