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“Just Start.” With Tyler Gallagher & Candace Galiffa

The three things that I would recommend to fix this all relate to education. First, we need a finance and tax 101 course in high school. Period. When you’re 18, you’re legally required to file your taxes. So why aren’t we teaching kids how to do that their senior year?I think we then need a […]

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The three things that I would recommend to fix this all relate to education. First, we need a finance and tax 101 course in high school. Period. When you’re 18, you’re legally required to file your taxes. So why aren’t we teaching kids how to do that their senior year?

I think we then need a tax and finance 101 again in college. You’re starting to support yourself, and after graduation, you’re heading off to get your “big kid” job and probably have student loans to pay off among a million other regular expenses that you’ve never really had before. So why aren’t we teaching budgeting, taxes, and just basic financial management?

Finally, companies should be offering tax and finance seminars. They should be helping their employees understand how to fill out their W4, their options for investing their money since many offer 401k plans and stock investment options within the company, and help employees to create a basic understanding of money management.


As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Candace Galiffa.

Candace is a CPA and president of NewWay Accounting. She works primarily with female entrepreneurs and small business owners to empower them and help them to achieve their financial goals. Additionally, she educates women on how to master their own finances and feel confident about their money management habits.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?

I was totally the nerdy kid in school. I knew in highschool that I wanted to be in accounting! I took an accounting class that came to me super easily and I’ve always been so much better with numbers than words.

During my Junior year in college I was an intern at PriceWaterHouseCoopers and was offered a full time job at the end of my internship. It was so relieving in a way knowing that I was finishing college with a secured job under my belt and it reaffirmed that I really was going to thrive in the accounting field.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Reflecting back to when I first started NewWay Accounting, I built the entire company up to six figures during naptime, nights and weekends. It sounds crazy, and it definitely wasn’t perfect in the beginning! But I knew that I wanted to start my own business in accounting so that I could be more available to my family while still doing what I love.

My biggest takeaway is definitely that women especially seem to struggle making the jump. It constantly feels like there is something else we need to know, that we need more experience first, that we need more education– and in reality if making that jump is something you want to do, whether starting a new business, or making a career pivot, or whatever, you probably already have enough expertise to just do it. The logistics will iron themselves out along the way!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I actually just launched a video workshop called the Fearless Finances workshop. Accounting isn’t something that is required in school, and I see frequently that entrepreneurs and small business owners tend to struggle in this area the most.

For startups especially, it can be SO difficult to figure out your finances! Startups aren’t typically generating enough revenue to hire an accountant to manage their bookkeeping for them, but don’t have the know-how to do it effectively themselves, so they end up with a mess at tax season every year which makes things even harder. This workshop solves that issue by breaking down absolutely everything you need to know to manage your finances as a small business owner the same way we manage it for our clients at the fraction of the cost of actually hiring an accountant.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are proactive! It’s easy to get in touch with us and get a response quickly. We hear a lot from clients that they worked with a CPA who took forever to get back to them and that just isn’t us. We are your team member, we are relatable, and we want to see you succeed. It can also feel like CPA’s are condescending or judgmental, especially when you’re coming from a place where you haven’t really kept up with your bookkeeping. We are here to empower and educate our clients and to cheer them on!

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

Women are feeling more empowered to speak up and claim their seat at the table and our male counterparts are seeing the value we bring. Women are multitaskers– because of that we offer a different perspective and a different kind of skill set. I think the “women supporting women” movement is also helping to make women feel more comfortable asserting themselves and stepping up to the plate and not suppressing the true value that they have to offer. We’re no longer being shy about our strengths and abilities.

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?

In my field, I primarily work with female entrepreneurs but I also sit on a number of boards where I am surrounded by older white men. That’s just the way these boards are right now and the way it has always been, so women starting to stand up and show up is helping to create a refreshing change. As women, we need to collectively keep using our voice, asserting ourselves and claiming our seat at the table because our voices are valuable and deserve to be heard too!

Companies really need to be mindful and active in pushing to close the gap. They need to actively listen to women and hear the value that they have to bring! We are so conditioned to look for what has been making up this industry for decades, but in order to grow and equal things out, we need to listen to voices that aren’t the “norm” in the industry so that we can take in new perspectives. Basically, they need to not be afraid to adapt to something new.

On the flipside, society needs to normalize that it’s okay to be a CEO and have kids! You don’t have to choose between being an executive or a CEO and having kids and being a good mom. Do you know what I want? I want to normalize breastfeeding in the boardroom. Women who are in high level positions, or demanding positions constantly get asked how they do it, how they find time for their families. Males don’t get asked about any of that– and we need to get rid of that stigma.

Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

The cause? Education. In high school we are required to take wood shop and home ec but don’t need to take banking or finance 101. We come into adulthood and we don’t know how to balance a checkbook or any sort of basic financial skills. I have colleagues graduating from college who didn’t know how to fill out a W4 and didn’t understand tax withholdings when they started their first job after school. That just isn’t acceptable, but that’s the norm.

The three things that I would recommend to fix this all relate to education. First, we need a finance and tax 101 course in high school. Period. When you’re 18, you’re legally required to file your taxes. So why aren’t we teaching kids how to do that their senior year?

I think we then need a tax and finance 101 again in college. You’re starting to support yourself, and after graduation, you’re heading off to get your “big kid” job and probably have student loans to pay off among a million other regular expenses that you’ve never really had before. So why aren’t we teaching budgeting, taxes, and just basic financial management?

Finally, companies should be offering tax and finance seminars. They should be helping their employees understand how to fill out their W4, their options for investing their money since many offer 401k plans and stock investment options within the company, and help employees to create a basic understanding of money management.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

  • Review your bank account monthly to see what you spend your money on! A $5 coffee here and a quick lunch there may not seem like a lot at the time, but at the end of the month, those expenses can add up quickly. Understanding the bigger picture can help you to make smarter money choices.
  • Be mindful of credit card usage, that’s what people get in trouble with the most. Only spend what you can pay off each month! Credit cards are great for their perks and building your credit can absolutely help you with bigger investments later down the road, but it can be easy to overdo it and dig yourself into a financial hole.
  • Create a budget and stick with it. This sounds complex, but it doesn’t have to be! There are great apps that help with this such as Mint. This will help you to make sure you are always living within your means and can help you plan for big expenses or investments.
  • Have big goals, but create mini monthly/quarterly goals as well. And when you meet these goals be sure to celebrate them!
  • Awareness is key. So many people avoid looking at their bank accounts and statements because it gives them anxiety. I get it! But you’ll never be able to meet your goals if you aren’t aware of your finance habits today. Educate yourself and then you’ll feel empowered to take control of your finances.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are a couple of people who I am particularly grateful for!

First, my parents- they made it an effort to teach me basic financial literacy at an early age. Even as a middle and high schooler, my mom would take me back to school shopping and would give me a budget to work with. I would want Abercrombie jeans because they were the cool thing, but my mom would remind me that buying them would limit the amount of other things I could buy, and that I could get two or three pairs of jeans for the same price from Macy’s.

Second, my clients– the female business owner community! I get so many clients from referrals, and it really demonstrates the women supporting women movement. It is honestly so humbling how highly my clients speak of me to other people and it makes what I do so fulfilling.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s super cliche and cheesy, but “Know your worth and add tax” is one of my favorites.

Knowing your worth is huge, especially as women! Then the tax part is just funny because you know, I’m a CPA. Knowing the value we can bring and claiming the compensation and respect we deserve is going to be what helps us to move forward and even out the playing field. We have so much value and such a unique perspective we can bring to the table as women, so owning that collectively is how we will keep progressing!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Really, just empowering women to do what they want to do! Following their dreams! If you’re unhappy in your current career, figure out what you’re good at and offer it on your own. You are so capable, and you are so deserving of success. If you don’t feel valued, then be your own boss and be the best damn boss you’ve ever had!

You can be whatever you want to be. It sounds cliche but you can have it all! Find what you’re good at. You don’t need to be perfect at it, or even have all of the answers! Just start!

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