Brittney Castro founded her financial planning company, Financially Wise, Inc., in 2013, because she wanted to demystify investing for first-time investors. “Personally, I just think it’s really interesting to learn how to grow your money,” Castro said. “I think everybody wants to live a good life and have the money to do that, so once you really understand you can’t build wealth by just putting money in a savings account, then you look for other ways to grow your money. That, to me, was always the appeal.”
Today, money is Castro’s second language, but she got started in investing the same way many early investors do. “I began investing with my 401k,” she said. “If you have a job and you’re offered a 401k, you put money into it, and you have to make sure you choose the investments within the account. That’s really where you learn how to contribute to an investment account regularly every month.”
Many early investors think of investing as a get-rich-quick plan, but Castro cautioned against that idea. “The reality is it’s very hard to be a get-rich-quick kind of thing,” she said. “90 percent of the time, investing comes from keeping the right buy-and-hold strategy. I know a lot of people want to get rich quick, but you really have to understand that even for the professionals it’s difficult.”
Smart investing is seen as a long-term goal, explained Castro. “You have to be clear that investing is a long-term strategy. You never physically invest short-term money that you might need for emergencies right now,” she said.
With the stock market facing uncertain times, many people may be wary of investing right now, and those who have investments might be tempted to sell while the market is down. However, Castro said that any financial planner would tell their clients to weather the storm. “I know there is the reality of fear and people are really at a loss and struggling,” she said. “The way I’ve always put clients at ease is reminding them that this will pass. Let’s do what we can right now to handle it.”
“With money, it’s just about reassuring people, calming them down, and making decisions from that place, because that’s usually when people make the most mistakes, from a place of panic,” Castro said. “That’s why I think it’s so important to have a professional to guide you when you have those emotions, so you don’t react.”
The best first step for new investors, according to Castro, is to find the right financial planner. “Hire a professional,” she said. “Even if it’s someone who just helps you initially, that person can really help you open the right account, make sure you have the right investment. The Certified Financial Planner Board is an amazing website where you can find the right financial planner in your area who would work with your specific needs.”
Castro is a big champion for women taking control of their own financial futures. “I think women, now more than ever, should think about how to diversify your skill set in the workplace because then you can have different revenue streams coming in,” she said. “I think women are naturally really equipped for that because they can do multiple things at once. We know how to pivot and turn and flow and create and make something happen, so to think like that with your work is so valuable. You can never be fully immune, but you’re more able to weather storms.”