Financial Empowerment Begins with Knowledge

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Financial Empowerment Begins with Knowledge

The following blog post is part of the The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in New York City! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.

Intelligent but Financially Clueless

Despite the fact that I have blonde hair, I consider myself a very intelligent woman, and my former teachers, peers, colleagues and employers would agree with my assessment. From the age of five, I was an overachiever and since that first day of Kindergarten, I always challenged myself academically. There were a few times in my life where certain subject matters didn’t come easily to me like Calculus or Chemistry; however, whenever I hit those roadblocks, I just worked harder and pushed myself until I reached a level of comfort that was satisfactory to me.

In college, I majored in Business and enjoyed learning every aspect about finance from how to evaluate a company to building a manufacturing plant overseas, and this passion continued throughout my career in investment banking. I loved learning the ins and outs of the various divisions where I worked, and I especially loved educating my clients who were not as comfortable in my area of expertise as I was.

So you can imagine my shock and discomfort when I realized that I was not well versed in financial literacy and in fact, I was failing in my own personal finances. For twelve years, I focused more on corporate finance than I did on personal finance, and my family’s balance sheet suffered because of it.

It was during my training to become a financial advisor that I truly began to comprehend just how clueless I was about personal finance, and I realized that it wasn’t a lack of intelligence on my part; it was a lack of knowledge. I spent years becoming knowledgeable on school related topics and what I needed to know from my career, but I never thought about gaining knowledge in personal finance.

Empowering Through Knowledge

I now have my own company focused on helping others feel less clueless like I did, and I have a front row seat for my client’s conversion from financial cluelessness to financial empowerment everyday. Empowering my client’s with their money decisions is truly the greatest personal experience for me, and I love to play a role in their conversion.

Despite the fact that I cringe at my personal finance past, I am thankful for the experience because I know that it helps me empower my clients everyday. I know the knowledge they are missing, because I missed it myself. All of my clients, just like me, are smart people, but spent more time educating themselves in areas other than personal finance. Many of us don’t know how and where to begin gaining knowledge in personal finance.

From the first meeting with my clients, I help educate them on important topics they need to know to get financially healthier and with each meeting; I share more thoughts, insights and resources to empower my clients in their money decisions. As time goes on, I see physical and financial changes happen to my clients. When I first meet with them, they sit nervously and slouched over because they are uncertain of their own financial well-being; however, after a few months together, they begin sitting with confidence as they gain knowledge and make changes with their money.

If you are someone who feels financially clueless rather than financially empowered, I encourage you to start a journey in search of knowledge and education around this topic. A great starting point is this Road to Financial Wellness Tour and the information that is shared along the way. I also encourage you to read personal finance blogs or listen to personal finance podcasts. If you want to talk to someone one-on-one, feel free to email me and let me know how I can help. There are too many resources out there for anyone to say they are clueless, it’s just a matter of finding the right source for your financial knowledge so that you can discover financial empowerment for yourself.

Do you feel financially empowered? Did you ever feel financially clueless? If so, how did you change that?
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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

28 COMMENTS

  1. For years I managed multimillion dollar budgets at work, but my personal budget was a mess. I was personal clueless for years. We finally had an a-ha moment and began to educated ourselves and now feel empowered. It’s amazing what a little help and shift in your behavior can do to get you on the right track.

  2. I feel financially empowered now, but I haven’t always. You’re right – education really is key. Anyone can learn basic personal finance and apply the principles to their own life.

  3. Like you Shannon, there was a time where I was financially clueless. Part of it came down to the education aspect for me. I was never taught much in terms of finances so was really starting from scratch. The other part was that I just accepted, or thought, that I couldn’t change. Once I realized that I would get nowhere without knowledge and a victim mentality I started to get momentum and the rest is history. 🙂

    • I was never taught personal finance as well and I think this is a HUGE issue in our society. We need more basic financial skills than we need to read Romeo and Juliet. I am not bashing Shakespeare but there is a more relevant topic in education that needs to be addressed.

  4. I feel financially empowered now, but before I was so intimated about everything that dealt with finances. Still until this day, I get a little uneasy when people start asking me questions as if I have a finance degree and an expert in finances (like you). I realize that I just had to embrace the cash and acknowledge the importance of understanding the basics to ensure a good future for me and my family.

  5. I totally agree that knowledge is key to financial empowerment, it is just a shame that in our society you really have to seek out personal finance information. I wish that high schools taught financial literacy. Imagine how much further ahead we’d all be if we started to be intentional with our money way back in high school. I know I would make different decisions if I’d known more!

    • School could help teach it… but it would be my opinion that finances are a life skill that everyone should learn. It doesn’t have to be taught in school for people to pick up on it, learn it, and use it..

      For the most part basic finances really are simple and easy to pick up on. Everyone makes them out to be the big complex “thing”

  6. This is wonderful, and I think empowerment is absolutely key! Since graduating from college and realizing there are in incredible amount of things to learn about the real world, I recognized strengthening my finances would help in my journey of life. I am incredibly excited to participate with Phroogal’s The Road tour on stop #26! When opportunities arise to join a community and or/events to increase financial literacy, it’s a powerful thing.

  7. I can not say that I ever felt clueless about my finances… I actually had a good handle on what it meant to work and make money and save since the age of about 10. Yeah I made some questionable purchases along the way…. but seriously, come on I was a kid back then…. and you have to be a kid sometimes.

    I most certainly feel financially empowered. I would base that mostly on the many books I have read from the library and financial magazines I’ve browsed thru. As an engineer numbers are something I use everyday in life… attaching them to dollars and value is the only thing that money really involves. At the end or the day money is just a digit that allows you to do the things you want to in life.. In recent years there are many bloggers that have done a great job to compile many books and financial topics in to clear and concise blog posts which have also helped since you can spend less to in the books and read the details from someone else’s reporting.. Cheers!!!

    • You’re a great example of the fact that financial health is like physical health and some people are naturally financially healthier than others just like some people are physically healthier than others. I certainly wish I was like you, but the good news is that just like physical health, we can change our financial health for the better.

  8. I am somewhere between financially clueless and empowered. I am getting better! I love your story and think it’s so unique. You rocked corporate finance but struggled with personal finance. I think a lot of people can relate in different ways. Thanks so much for sharing your struggles and taking part in this tour. You rock, friend!

  9. I definitely consider myself to be financially empowered and like you – helping others become financially empowered themselves is such a rush. For whatever reason, so many people are intimidated by finances and believe it to be hard, so they don’t try. It’s much easier than people imagine and nothing is more powerful than reclaiming your financial power. Like you said, it starts with knowledge and there are so many resources available to people.

  10. Though I came from frugal-ish beginnings and understood the value of working and saving money from a young age, I never received the proper guidance on how to manage my finances. I often heard things like “credit cards are bad,” but no one ever explained WHY or HOW. Luckily, the realization of my financial cluelessness happened early on when I was drowning in credit card debt and I was able to make adjustments to improve my situation. All of which could’ve been prevented with the proper education. Though I feel more empowered than ever, I still have room for improvements.

    • It is frustrating that there is not always complete information and guidance available out there and it stinks when we make financial messes of our lives, but I love that no financial mess is really permanent. With the right planning and changes, you can turnaround just about any financial situation. Congrats on combatting your credit card debt!

  11. Okay I’m going to take your question in a different direction. I think a lot of people avoid dealing with finances because they don’t feel in control. It’s often due to a lack of knowledge and understanding. I think starting by reading personal finance books is the best way to get that base of knowledge needed to feel “empowered.”

    • You’re right DC, people don’t feel in control and yet they don’t make the proper changes to get in control. There is not exact roadmap for gaining financial empowerment and I think the best course of action is often confusing for many.

  12. We often put our jobs ahead of ourselves, but we put off addressing our own budget, thinking “I’ll get around to that later.”
    But later never comes! Do it NOW! Props to you for taking control of your money, Shannon! 🙂

  13. It feels great that there are various sources of information available online that can empower us with knowledge on money management. It has been so easier to learn most of these things. Now, I feel financially empowered but still feel there are more things to learn. Thank you Shannon for being part of this.

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