We’re so excited to announce we’re partnering with Marsha Barnes, creator of The Finance Bar, a personal finance suite and mobile hub bridging the gap between individuals and financial wellness, and The Finance Bar Members Club, a virtual community for women seeking to make smarter financial decisions. She’ll be contributing to the blog and will also be answering finance Qs on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get to know her with our Q&A below.
Where did you grow up? Where do you call home now?
I grew up in Lancaster, SC (The Red Rose City). I live in Charlotte, NC (The Queen City, Home of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets).
What are your joys in life?
My husband, who is also my high school sweetheart, and my son who is the sweetest most adorable kid on Earth (I’m sure all Moms say that).
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Definitely a school teacher. I was the teacher’s pet, spelling bee guru and I loved when my teachers would have old teacher’s editions manuals they would give to me. As a child, it was one of my favorite pastimes to play with our grandfather’s old office papers with my cousins by switching off with one another as teacher and students. I’m pretty certain this was the beginning of the work I do now.
What did you study in school?
I earned my Undergraduate in Business and my Graduate in Management and Leadership. I then went on to earn my certification in Financial Social Work, as a Financial Educator and Certified Credit Report Reviewer. Currently, I am in school to earn a Financial Planner Certification.
What were your first jobs?
My first job while in high school was at China Inn in Lancaster, SC and my first job directly after high school was working as a Personnel Specialist for the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Comstock LSD-45.
Have you always been interested in helping people out with their money? What makes you passionate about that?
I have over 15+ years in the finance and banking industry. Prior to launching The Finance Bar, I was a corporate trainer, coaching and training employees on how to handle customers who were facing challenging economic times. While some of my passion grew from that, I would have to say my love for this work comes from knowing the percentage of people and households that don’t feel confident in their financial situations. How unfortunate is it for individuals to work so hard and not be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor? There is still so much work to be done.
What were some financial mistakes you made early on and how did you learn from then?
The purchase of a BMW that I could not afford. I wanted my car to match my job title at the time and it simply didn’t work for me. That was my dream car and I was willing to have it even at the cost of struggling to make payments. Once the first car repair came my way, that was the moment of… uh oh, what have I done?
Why were you inspired to create The Finance Bar?
I was inspired to create The Finance Bar because I felt a skip in how and who financial planning was being offered to. While there were banks for products and what seemed at the time financial planning offices that offered products to individuals who earned a certain income and possessed a level of wealth or assets, who did the work for those who did not fall within that bubble? The Finance Bar works diligently to not leave anyone behind.
How did you come up with the idea for your Finance Mobile Boutique? How did you get started?
Our mobile boutique is outfitted to be a welcoming hub for employees, students and those who may be living in a shelter and fell on tough times. Everyone deserves a shot at financial wellness. Our goal is to meet people where they are on their journey. I also have a coaching suite adjacent to uptown Charlotte that allows me to work more intimately with individuals or couples.
When I first came up with the idea for The Finance Bar (the mobile model), it was during the time when food trucks were on the rise in Charlotte, NC. While I knew I wanted The Finance Bar to be unique and inviting, I wasn’t quite certain how I would turn a bus into a financial education hub on wheels. However, as fate would have it, one of my sorority sisters and friends is an interior designer and was preparing for her masters in architectural work. She was instrumental in creating the perfect blueprint from concept to creation. We actually developed the layout before I purchased the bus. I was just that confident in my dream.
What is the Finance Bar Members Club?
The Finance Bar Members Club is a virtual online experience for women who are committed to transforming their lifestyle and who need guidance and accountability throughout the year. I am able to provide members with tools, resources and experts from different finance backgrounds to discuss topics from money mindset, creating customized budgets, creating a plan B, investing and even how to start their own business to earn more income. What I love most about this club is that we focus on basic financial concepts for those who are beginners, all the way up to investing, business development, the importance of wills and powers of attorneys and so much more. It’s our one-stop shop to deliver financial information to anyone around the world. The Finance Bar also has a free mobile app available for Android and Apple users!
How do you stay motivated to live your best financial life?
Not living one’s best financial life is both taxing and stressful and I don’t handle either of those feelings well. I have dreamed for a very long time about doing this as my life’s work and I never want to give it up. Living my best financial life provides me with options, a level of confidence and awareness of all that this world has to offer. Money is dollars and cents, but financial freedom allows you to explore beyond your wildest dreams. I work with many people who come from a background of financial struggle and are now consumed with thoughts that this type of living is normal (which it’s not). My job is to help shift those mindsets day by day and step by step.
What advice would you give to someone who is feeling overwhelmed with the idea of personal finance and looking to take the first step towards creating a healthy financial life?
Embrace and accept the journey. Financial mishaps are easy to get into and quite difficult to repair. Give yourself grace and prepare for patience. Any willing person can turn their financial situation around. I’ve seen this done time and again. I’m here to serve you every step of the way. Do it for you. Do it for your family.
This is a post in partnership with Marsha Barnes, of the Finance Bar. Green Dot has supported her with compensation for her financial expertise and blog contributions.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Green Dot Corporation.