David Bromstad On Designing His Financial Future
When David Bromstad—designer and TV personality—got his start, he made decisions not for the love of money, but for the love of art.
Bromstad began his career working a steady corporate job as a visual merchandiser with all of the creature comforts his dad wanted for him coming out of college, but Bromstad said he was miserable. It took getting out and working a contract job for $15 an hour for Bromstad to admit that he finally felt happy. But his happiness came at an impossible cost: almost filing for bankruptcy. And that’s when the winds shifted.
During a random trip to the gym, Bromstad ran into an old interior design friend who offered him the opportunity to design kids’ rooms in model homes throughout the southeast. "He said, ‘Here’s $2,000. Whatever you have left over is yours,’" Bromstad recalled. "I would do as much as I could for as little as I possibly could with the biggest impact."
Sometimes, that included winging it. "I never made furniture before, but it didn’t have to be functional, it just had to be props," Bromstad said. "I started doing that and did murals in the kids’ rooms, and it was fun. It was amusing."
Every time he finished a room, Bromstad would take a picture.
"I went out and bought a super-expensive camera that I would return the next week because I couldn’t afford it," Bromstad said. "Through those photos, through those rooms, I entered into Design Star, and now here I am."
"Here I am" refers to Bromstad’s life-changing win on the premiere season of Design Star, which led to his job hosting an array of other TV shows, a furniture and home accessories line, and more.
"I won my own lottery, in a sense, by winning the show," Bromstad said. "Obviously it completely transformed my life. It transformed my finances."
Bromstad prioritized paying off his student loans and then buying his own place in Miami.
"That was one of the best feelings, having the financial freedom to decorate my own house," Bromstad said. "I decorate everyone else’s homes—why can’t I have one for me?"
Bromstad acknowledged that his own financial goals aligned well with those that Capital One outlines in its Banking ReimaginedSM initiative, which seeks to help customers identify concrete strategies to help achieve goals of their own. Whether it’s the Banking Reimagined Tour bringing financial awareness to big cities across the US or the Capital One Cafés opening across the country, Capital One wants to show consumers exactly where their money can take them.
"I love it—I think it’s going to bring a lot of people in," Bromstad said of the Capital One Café in Miami. As a designer, he couldn’t help but comment on the Café’s look and feel: "It’s super current and comfortable with the accents of wood—its halfway between an Apple store and a Starbucks, which everyone loves."
Though it was Bromstad’s father who helped guide him along his own financial path as a child and into adulthood, he realizes the importance of getting educated about money as soon as possible.
"I knew the value of a dollar early," Bromstad said, acknowledging his lower-middle-class upbringing. "My dad always made sure we got that, and I’m glad he did, because it really taught me how to earn money and value it."
Despite his great success, Bromstad keeps himself in check, making sure to never spend beyond his means.
"I’m still living as an artist, I’m just living much more comfortably as an artist," Bromstad said, mentioning that extravagant spending isn’t sustainable or realistic for his lifestyle. "My story is one of the true rags to riches, which is wonderful, but it didn’t change who I am.".
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