Entrepreneur Series: Interview with The Finance Twins!

If you're anything like me, you most likely find yourself on your cell phone looking at Instagram whenever you're bored or waiting in line.

Often times, most of the photos you're looking at aren't doing anything for your overall improvement.

Though often very entertaining, for the most part, we could all probably agree that we could afford to spend a little less time on our phones – especially Instagram (if you have it).

That being said, Instagram can still be very helpful, and if it wasn't for the giant social media platform, well I would have never found Camilo and Francisco, the identical twins behind personal finance blog The Finance Twins!

And as fate might have it (sort of), today I get to share with you a recent interview I did with Camilo of The Finance Twins!

The MLW Entrepreneur Interview Series:

Today's interview happens to be number three in the Money Life Wax Entrepreneur Interview Series.

Our first ever Interview in the series back in March was with Kelan of The Savvy Couple, followed by an interview with Alex of Create and Go!

As you can see in the above cover photo, The Finance Twins have some of the best Instagram posts there are, regardless of niche and I am excited to share my conversation with Camilo.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in finance at the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Business (M.B.A.) from Harvard Business School, Camilo worked for J.P. Morgan and two other companies before deciding to leave to pursue his true passion of helping others learn about personal finance!

Today, Camilo shares his perspective on money, life, blogging and more! Be sure to check out their blog and follow their amazing Instagram handle (I included it at the end!)

1. What is your background & upbringing?

I come from an underprivileged background. I honestly didn’t realize how poor we were until I was older and talked to my mom about it, but we struggled a lot.

I came to the U.S. as an immigrant from Colombia when I was four years old. Things were actually going really well until my dad died from cancer when I was a 7-year-old child. Since my dad didn’t have term life insurance or whole life insurance, we were broke from all of the hospital bills.

Those hard years inspired me to work extremely hard in school so that my mom wouldn’t have to worry about me. I took all of the pain from losing my dad and really threw myself at my schoolwork.

All of the hard work paid off because I was able to go on and graduate from Harvard and Penn, two of the best universities in the world. Those academic experiences opened once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for me and I went one to work at some of the most prestigious and respected companies in the world.

Today, I devote myself to building and running a personal finance site called The Finance Twins. It’s very similar to this site and I add my own personal touches to it. I also founded a start-up called Contacts Compare, which is a contact lens site that helps people find cheap contacts! I guess you can say I am pretty passionate about helping people save money and feel less financial stress.

When I work I think a lot of my mom and the way she struggled financially when she was raising me.

2. The Finance Twins… what is it like growing up as identical twins?

It was an incredible blessing to have a twin by my side through all of the trials and tribulations growing up.

I credit him with a lot of my academic success because we pushed each other and always competed to see who would get better grades. He went on to get his M.D. from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, so he’s no slouch!

Aside from that, he is still my best friend to this day. We also chat before and after work. And on weekends we work together because he started The Finance Twins with me!

We still get a laugh out of the fact that we look so similar. As kids, we had to wear nametags at school so that our teachers could tell us apart.

3. You talked about growing up with a single mom (I can relate) did that help motivate you to aspire to do more?

Seeing the way my mom adapted to living in a new country, learning a new language, and raising three sons by herself showed me that anything was possible. Without her example and emotional support, I could have easily ended up in jail.

If you look up the data for the average Latino male that was raised in a low-income single-parent household, you’ll see that my success is extremely atypical. It was made possible due to my mom’s dedication. She sacrificed everything so that we would have enough food to eat at night and have a roof over our heads.

In high school, I would regularly pull all-nighters studying because I wanted to build a better life for myself. But more importantly, I wanted to give my mom a better life.

4. What made you start getting serious about your finances? 

To be honest with you, I felt an incredible amount of shame for being poor as a child and I was sick and tired of it. I knew I didn’t want to ever be broke when I was an adult. I didn’t blame my mom because she did everything imaginable to survive given her circumstances.

I remember several times when my mom’s debit card would get rejected at the grocery store due to a low balance and the amount of embarrassment we would all feel. It’s the kind of feeling that you’ll never forget, even 20+ years later.

I had to start working to help pay bills at home when I turned 15 and I knew that I had to learn how to manage my money so that I wouldn’t waste it. I started to learn about money right away because I knew it was a huge blindspot for me.

I didn’t personally know anyone who was wealthy that I could ask for advice so I just started reading books whenever I wasn’t studying or working. Looking back, I basically started following the Dave Ramsey baby steps by coincidence.

Even though I had very little money in high school I would create a budget to make sure all of the bills would be paid for and so that I would save money to help pay for my college expenses.

5. How did you get the idea to start a blog?

All I could think about was that there might be someone out there like my mom who had kids and no one to turn to for financial advice.

I wanted to create a site that would help people learn the basics of personal finance so they could feel more comfortable and confident.

I never really thought of it as a ‘blog’ per se, but that’s what it ended up turning into once it was up and running. At the end of the day, I knew the best way to reach as many people as possible was the internet.

I wanted to pay forward everything I had learned since I had such a unique experience having seen and experienced such a wide array of things.

6. Best tip for a new person starting a blog or online company?

There will never be a better time to start something than right now.

I felt extremely afraid before I started my first company and I am glad I didn’t wait until I had more confidence because I would still be waiting around.

7. How do you manage your career and growing your personal finance blog?

Everything in life comes down to managing your time and balancing different priorities. Just like I advocate creating a budget to plan how you will spend your money, I do the same with my time.

In personal finance, there’s kind of an order in which you should do things. First, you pay off credit card debt. Next, you fund your 401k at work and then open an IRA, etc. In a similar way, I have always tried to logically plan out everything that I need to do in order to reach a goal, and then I do everything possible to get there.

8. What are some long term plans or goals you have for yourself?

To me, no long term goal or plan is more important to me than being the best father/husband/son/brother that I can be. Work always comes second. Family first. I learned at an early age that money can’t buy happiness so I try to keep that in perspective.

I obviously have specific goals and targets that I want my businesses to hit, but the emphasis that I place on that pales in comparison to my personal life.

I guess losing your dad when you are so young just forces you to focus on the most important things.

9. Favorite quote or tip under 25 words:

In high school, I used to repeat the famous mantra: “success is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice.”

A quote that I came across more recently that spoke to me is, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”

I have no clue who originally said either of them, but they’ve stuck with me.

10. Do you have a favorite personal finance book?

Oh man, I have so many.

I would say my absolute favorite is The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by Jack Bogle. The author, who passed away in 2019 was the founder of Vanguard and the modern index fund.

Aside from the book offering sage advice in terms of the best way to invest to minimize fees and maximize simplicity, it’s so easy to understand. I never had the chance to meet John, but I understand that he was a gentle soul who treated everyone he met with kindness.

In a lot of ways, he’s the kind of person I aspire to be, and I place a lot of importance on that context when I consume a book or piece of content.

11. What is your best personal finance tip?

The personal finance world is riddled with so many different rules of thumb. For example, ‘don’t pay more than 30% on rent’ or ‘save 10% of income for retirement’.

Instead, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that the finance industry wasn’t set up in a way to serve the people who need it most. In the U.S., the poorest communities have the least access to financing and banking. I always found it odd that banks only charge monthly fees on checking accounts when you fall below a certain balance. It’s basically a tax on the poor.

Income inequality is a tremendous problem and it’s only getting worse. I hope my companies are helping, even if only a little bit, to alleviate the problem and reverse the trend.

So I just want to reach out to anyone who is struggling financially, the way my mom did, and say that you shouldn’t let it affect the way you view yourself. Just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you are lazy or that you aren’t worthy of having more.

There’s a good chance you were let down by our financial system. I know a lot of extremely hard-working people who barely get by. I also know a lot of people who went to Harvard but don’t know the meaning of hard work.

But don’t give up. All you can do is try your best to not let it defeat you. And even if you set a lofty goal and miss, you’ll still be better off than if you become resigned to a situation that may feel hopeless.

And if you are in a position to help others, just remember how you can change the trajectory of an entire family.

12. Anything else you want to share & how can people find “The Finance Twins?”

I just want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story, and to thank your readers for making it all the way to the end.

In life, our most precious resource is time, and it’s humbling that every single one of you took time out of your day to read this.

You can find me on Instagram @thefinancetwins and Facebook or visit The Finance Twins website!

As mentioned earlier, be sure to check out The Finance Twins, and if you're like me and feeling more motivated to get your finances in order, be sure to check out more related articles below!