compound investing

Sckeem Talk – Emma Cramm, CFP®

Ever heard of the magic of compound investing? You know, how your money compounds over time? Well, let’s just say today’s guest knows a thing or two about compound investing. Meet Emma Cramm, CFP®. Not only is she a Certified Financial Planner™, but she’s also studying to be a Chartered Financial Analyst (#boss). It’s obvi she has a passion for the finance world and we’re excited that she’s offered to share a few lessons with us!

Take it away, Emma!

1. What led you to pursue your career?

This career chose me! The Financial Crisis in 08-09 was a difficult time for my family. As the oldest of five children and a freshman in high school at the time, I was deeply impacted by the financial stress my parents faced as my dad lost his job and was looking for a new one when no one was hiring. I remember being terrified to tell my parents about the $100 athletic fee that they had to pay in order for me to play basketball.

At that time, I began to fear money and wanted nothing to do with the business world because of how badly I didn’t want to go through times of financial stress. Thankfully, I had a close family friend who is a financial planner and showed me the role that planners have in helping families through the highs and lows of life by sharing some things about compound investing. We don’t take away the struggles our clients face, but we do get to help carry their burdens during tough times and amplify the celebrations in good times. What was originally one of my biggest fears became my mission. I wanted my career to be centered around impacting the lives of others, so I pursued a spot in the Texas A&M Financial Planning Program, landed a job at one of the leading firms in Dallas, and haven’t looked back!

2. How do you approach budgeting?

My mom first taught me about budgeting before my freshman year of college and I HATED it. It felt restricting and legalistic. However, I had to pay for a lot of my education, so I had to figure out how to save money and learn the freedom that lies within setting healthy boundaries while considering compound investing.

Today, I develop my budget based on my near-term and long-term goals. What do I want to have accumulated in 5 years? 10 years? At retirement? Then, I establish disciplines that support those goals. I track my expenses monthly on a spreadsheet that probably makes sense to no one else and compare it to the goals I set. I also track my net worth so I can see the progress over time. When I know where I’m headed, I’m more likely to develop daily habits that allow me to achieve the life I envision.

3. What’s your favorite self-care practice?

Morning workouts. Giggling with friends. Natural wine. Homemade chocolate chip cookies. Laying on the beach.

4. What’s your #1 piece of advice when it comes to money?

Make it FUN! So many of us spend too much of our lives stressed and overwhelmed by money, whether you’re drowning in debt or a millionaire. Money is a reflection of our hearts, so I think it’s really important to face your fears head-on, find grace for yourself, and turn your fear into fun. Success is a series of small steps accumulating over time, and it’s easier to step off the curb than to jump off a cliff.

5. Tell us about an obstacle you faced and how you overcame it.

Certifications and designations are extremely important in my career field. The over-achiever in me decided to pursue one of the most challenging designations in order to grow in an area where I’m weak and further develop my investment expertise. There are three levels to earning this designation, each one requiring hundreds of hours of self-taught studying. The material was way more challenging than I anticipated, and every day I faced the feeling of overwhelming inadequacy. I passed the first level but unfortunately failed the second. When I found out that I failed, that the hundreds of hours I put in while trying to balance work and life weren’t enough, I was crushed. Thankfully, the partners I work for reminded me that results don’t define success – effort does. They praised me for the work I put in, reassured me that my career path does not depend on whether or not I pass, and will be ready to cheer me on when I decide to start studying again if that’s what I want.

Failure is not fun, but I’ve learned to see it as a gift. We grow and heal when we fail. We find who our real cheerleaders are. We attain a new level of humility and compassion for others. There’s a deeper level of courage and strength for those that stand back up and try again after failure. For me, this looks like studying for level two all over again, after I take some time to rest and recover and have a little fun.