Is finding “financial bliss” a priority for you? Join the club.
As part of our Millennial Money Experiment, we decided that it was high time to bring a real professional in. Meet Ashley Feinstein Gerstley. She founded The Fiscal Femme, where she works as a money coach and “demystifies the world of personal finance and money for her clients in a fun and accessible way that empowers them to achieve their financial goals.” So what exactly does a “money coach” do, you ask? Ashley has empowered thousands of people in their financial wellness via her corporate financial wellness programs, one-on-one coaching and online money school, including the 30 Day Money Cleanse. And not to brag but … Ashley and her work have been featured on Real Simple, NBC News, Fox News, Forbes, Yahoo Finance and DailyWorth, among others. Ashley offers some insight, tips and an honest conversation about money in our signature 12 Questions!
I started the Fiscal Femme because I needed it myself (you’ll get more info on this below). As I went through my own money journey I experienced so much power and freedom from the process that I’ve since made it my mission to share that power and freedom with as many people as possible. Money is really just a tool for us to have and experience what we want in life, and when we are using it consciously and intentionally it can bring us tremendous joy rather than stress. I also found that the process can be quite easy and enjoyable despite what we typically think about money.
It all started because I needed money help myself. I was a finance major in college and a finance professional (first an investment banker and then in corporate finance) and realized I knew NOTHING about my own money. I thought, if I don’t know about this money stuff and I have a finance background, who does? I dug in and started reading books on personal finance. I had to figure it out because I had switched jobs and had taken a pay cut but now had much more free time to spend my money. I was bleeding through my savings! As I went through my money journey, I wrote about it for fun on my blog, the Fiscal Femme, in a straightforward, accessible and, dare I say, fun way. People started asking me for help and other sites asked me to write for them and I thought … wow, this is a service that’s needed! I started working with people one on one and realized it was so much more about our relationship with money than the numbers (although the numbers are an extremely important part — you can’t have one without the other). I got certified as a coach, and the rest is history. I saw trends with the people I was working with and created online courses and a money school. My foundations course, the 30 Day Money Cleanse, is absolutely incredible! It’s a movement toward a life where we are in control of our finances rather than at the mercy of them and have an amazing relationship with money.
A money coach is not a common profession (yet!). When I started the Fiscal Femme, I created the role based on what I saw that the people around me needed. I’m unbiased, non-judgmental and believe there is no right or wrong when it comes to money; it’s all about our goals and what’s most important to us. I’m also an objective perspective. Sometimes we are too far in it to see what’s happening in our own lives, and an outside perspective can make all the difference. I’m also an educator. I educate around topics that are typically daunting and scary to us. I make concepts like investing, debt pay-down and creating spending plans fun and accessible. I meet my clients where they are. I’m also accountability. When people know they are meeting with me, they do their homework or action items. I’m very lucky because I get to spend my days helping people reach their most coveted goals. We get there by getting clear on what’s actually happening with their money now and reallocating it to make it work with their lifestyle and goals. I’m a big believer in personal development in every area of our lives. It’s called a money journey for a reason — there’s always more we can do to improve our financial wellness and, of course, celebrate how far we’ve come along the way.
1) Get conscious of where their money is going. We have a tendency to avoid paying attention to where our money is going, and technology has made this that much easier. We can hop in and out of Ubers without paying and we can buy things with a click of a button or swipe of a credit card. I have each and every one of my clients manually track their spending via an actual notebook or notes on their phone. It’s a new practice so it will take time to get the hang of it. It’s important that we are kind with ourselves as we build the new habit. And the more we don’t want to do this, the more we have to gain from doing it!
2) Shift the language they use around money. We say pretty terrible things to ourselves about ourselves and money. When we say these things over, they can become a mantra. These mantras affect what actions we take (and often which actions we don’t take) in our money lives and our results reinforce our mantras. For example, we might say “I’m just bad with money,” which leads us to take no action or maybe less intentional action. This doesn’t get us the results we want and we then believe even more that we’re bad with money. It’s important to notice what we are telling ourselves around money and then replace those non-serving money mantras with something more powerful.
3) Pay themselves first. How we typically view saving is pretty ironic. We earn money, live our lives and pay our bills and then we wait to see if there is any money left over to go toward savings. The funny thing (or not so funny thing) is that when we do it this way there will never be any money left over to save. We have to flip the equation and pay ourselves first. When we do this we end up saving just like we always end up paying all of our bills. We make paying ourselves and saving a priority.
So many reasons! Money is something that we have to deal with pretty much daily that’s often not taught to us. I’m hearing more and more about programs in schools where students get educated around personal finance and money, but for most of us that wasn’t available. To make matters worse, we’re also not talking about money. It’s really taboo to talk about. I think part of it is that we often collapse our self-worth with our net worth and believe when someone makes more than us we are less than and vice versa. It’s unlikely we’ll strike that perfect balance where we both feel good about what we’re earning so we avoid talking about it. Also, I think we’re often raised that talking about money is impolite. You might have heard phrases like “Don’t air your dirty laundry” or something similar. A lot of how we interact with money today has come from what we experienced growing up and messages we received from parents, mentors and society in general
I love Nashville! The people. Some of my favorite people are in Nashville 🙂 And I also love the warmth (hospitality and weather!), music and food!
Day to day, I love Dale’s raw protein bars and always opt for pasture-raised eggs. This drives my husband crazy, but I believe in aligning my spending with my values. I also love to travel and explore. I make my trips fabulously frugal (which means I increase the fabulousness while decreasing the cost), but regardless, this is an expense that can add up!
I honestly hate mani/pedis. I think manicured nails look really beautiful, but I can only go a day without having my nails chip and don’t love sitting there while getting my nails done. Unless of course, I’m with friends, then it’s much more social and fun.
I also make most meals at home — it’s healthier because I know what I’m eating and it saves a lot of money.
Always ask. I learned this from my dad throughout my life. This goes for anything, including getting paid what you’re worth. Since I started practicing this motto I’ve been shocked by how often people say yes. And the worst that can happen is that they say no.
That they don’t care and that they are irresponsible. I work with millennials all day, every day on their money lives and these millennials really care about financial well-being. They are also really passionate about aligning their spending and investing with their values.
1) Separate. It’s very hard to save money in a savings account that’s with the same bank as our checking account. Why? We see it every time we check our balance and it just feels available to us to use. We end up transferring money over bit by bit to our checking and then there’s no money left in our savings. When we open up a separate savings account, the money feels less available to us. Out of sight and out of mind. We also can earn some interest. Online savings accounts get about 1 percent interest vs. our brick-and-mortar banks that give about 0.01 percent.
2) Automate. I love making our financial lives as easy as possible, and automating is a great way to do that. It also ensures that it will happen. When we set our savings up to transfer automatically we treat our saving like an expense. It’s not about what’s left over or what we’d like to save, it’s about paying ourselves first and making it a priority.
3) Play the money game. Instead of making our spending plans restricting, we can make them fun and play the money game. Decide you want to spend on dining out or taxis for the week of month and then when you go under you get to transfer the extra to savings (or a combination of savings and something fun). You can keep a daily or weekly tally and transfer the money over as you play the game. This makes saving a lot more fun and makes sure you get to reap the benefits of your positive financial choices.
We’re saving for our first home! We’re waiting for the right place to come along, but it’s definitely something that we are interested in investing in, in the future.