It’s been amazing. So I actually started with a fitness coaching program. She used PocketSuite for invoicing and signing the agreement. So I asked her, before I was done and as I was kind of getting everything ready, I was like, “What app did you use? It was just so easy.” She told me. Ever since then, that’s what I use.
PocketSuite Finance Coach Pro
Financial Coach Pro Stacia Parkin specializes in financial coaching in Minnesota. Her extensive experience in finance and debt management makes her a great asset to the PocketSuite Pro community. Stacia talks to CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro, about how she paid off $45,000 of student loans and why she left a big financial firm to help women with managing their finances.
Stacia, I’m always really excited and proud when I see women who are coaching people on finances. It’s huge and impacts everything – your entire lifestyle.
Can you share with us what is it that you do and how did you get into this work?
So I work mainly with women in finance. I help them with their monthly cash flow. So I budget, nobody likes that word so I use it but, I always kind of cringe a bit. A lot of my clients have debt. So debt is really my strong suit. I create a plan for my clients to pay that off. With whatever timeframe they want, I work it into their schedule with the money that they make. A lot of my clients are kind of in that age range where they want to buy a house. So I’m helping a lot of them save for down payments for an apartment.
This isn’t a bad time to do that as well. Right?
I mean, the interest rates are great, but you have to be very aggressive. You put in offers because houses go so fast.
Interesting. And there’s a lot of people bidding prices up right now?
Yes. It’s crazy. It’s insane.
How did you get into this line of work? Whenever I hear about personal financial gurus, it’s always either folks who were in the finance industry and really wanted to go direct to consumers, direct to households. Or it’s folks who had personal struggles themselves, got out of them, are a success story, and want others to be. Do you fall into one or both camps?
Both. So I’ve been interested in finance since I was, honestly, probably 16. I started working really early making my own money. Then, I thought that I was prepared to go to college, but I was not. So I really started it in college. I took an economics class, decided to go work for a big firm that does finance, has financial advisors, and everything. I was on the track to be a financial advisor and doing my Series exams. I realized, the advisors weren’t helping their clients with the nitty-gritty budgeting stuff that I love to do. After paying off $45,000 in student loans in three years, I was like, “All right, I can do this. I know I can help other people.” It’s been amazing seeing other people’s journeys and helping them.
When do people come to you? Clearly, we’re all on a continuum of needing some level of help for education, emergencies, or retirement. What’s the inflection point, or the tipping point, where someone’s like, “I just need somebody external to step in here and help me be accountable or teach me the way?”
For a lot of my clients, they are now getting into, I don’t like this term, but their big girl jobs. They’re starting to make money. They’re out of college. They’re making good money, but they don’t know where their money’s going. So I have some clients that make upwards of $70 or $80,000, but don’t know where any of it goes and they still have student loans. So it’s at that point when clients realize, “Oh shit, where’s my money going? I don’t know where it’s going.”
It’s funny, you said, “Big girls,” I’ve heard the term “adulting”. Folks get to a point where it’s like, “Oh wow, I’ve got to do the adult thing now.” Personally, I’m a parent with toddlers, trying to teach them about saving. They just want to rip the money. They’re like, “Oh, this is a green paper. Let me rip it.” It’s like, “No, no.” I’ve heard that it’s actually harder for parents, now more than ever, in part, because of all of the online banking systems. It used to be that you’d sit down and you’d balance your checkbook. Now, it’s all done electronically. It’s in the background and it’s actually really hard for you personally to keep track of it. Also, it’s hard for you to expose your kids to the process of being responsible. Any reflections on that, as you think about how people get into the situations they’re in?
I think, so along with everything being online, everybody uses either credit cards or debit cards these days. So they just swipe without actually thinking about it. And that’s one of the things I actually focus on with my clients. If I see we’re overspending in certain categories, the first thing we do is make the shift to cash. So it’s not a forever thing that you have to do, but having physical cash on you, people don’t like to spend it. If you have a hundred dollar bill and it lasts you two weeks, you’re going to make sure it lasts you two weeks.
True. Very true.
I love automating and making it as easy as possible using Mint.com or just some other electronic budgeting tools, but I also feel like it detaches you from your finances. Because somebody else is doing it and you’re not physically sitting there putting everything down on a piece of paper or into a spreadsheet. I have all my clients put everything into spreadsheet.
Right. They say you measure what matters, right? So you start measuring it and it starts to direct your decisions. So what’s the hardest part of the changes that you have people go through? Is it the measurement and the tracking? What’s the hardest thing for people to shift that gets them on the right track?
So it’s really the mental shift that I work with clients on. The first month is very focused on your past traumas because people don’t think that matters, but it does. It so plays a role in how you spend day after day. You have to deal with the past stuff to be able to move forward and really achieve your goals.
It’s funny, my husband and I have very different philosophies. I’m very much of a top-line person. We have kids, I’m like, “They’ve got to be in extracurriculars. They’ve got this, they’ve got that.” And my husband’s like, “Actually, let’s look at the numbers and see what the numbers allow us to do.” And so we’re in very different head spaces. You work with couples. I mean, are you a couples counselor too? Because some of that is just the nature of the relationship they have and how they work things out. Some of it is their relationship to money. How do you navigate the dynamics of couples?
So it’s a little tricky because opposites attract. So you have your spender and your saver in any relationship. It goes back to that mental awareness. If you guys are on the same page, you will find a way to make it work. So really having that commonality of why we’re doing this, what is this going to help us achieve? Maybe we want to buy a new … then we need to save $20,000. You can have this thing, just make them aware of that without being patronizing. Never patronize people. But just know, okay, this is why we’re doing it. How bad do you want it? So finding that common ground instead of, “Oh, my husband, my wife, wants to do this so I guess I’m just going to do it.” It’s finding that “Why?” to do it as a couple.
So shifting gears a little bit, because I’m convinced you’re a finance guru. You know where the bodies are buried and how to help people through this. As you think about what it took to start your business and to go solo, leaving a cush job to dive into the deep end, what kind of money considerations did you work through and how did you get to a point where you’re like, “I’m okay. I’m in cruise control.”
I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m always about security and stability. So I gave myself a goal, once I had $10,000 saved, I was no longer going to use the excuse of, I can’t leave my job because I don’t have a little cushion. So once I had that, I was like, I’m not going to give up on my word. So I just went for it and I’ve been making it work and I love it. It’s just, once you have your mind set on doing something, it all just kind of falls into place and you make it happen.
That’s awesome. As you think about growing your business and taking things to the next level, who do you look to for inspiration in your field?
Well, Dave Ramsey got me started, so I love Dave Ramsey. I started reading his Total Money Makeover book. That’s kind of what supercharged me when I was about 17 years old and really getting on this path. So I love him. I also follow Amanda Frances. So she’s a money-mentality guru. So a lot of the stuff that I’ve been reading of hers and just watching, that she is on, is that whole money mindset and overcoming your blockage with money. I started working on it myself and it helps so much. So those two are very big.
I’ve done a little bit of research on personal finance advisors. Is that the path? Because on your website, you talk about how you don’t represent any financial products or any companies, so you can be totally unbiased in how you talk to people and how you really customize their plan for them. What’s the path for you as a financial coach, as you think about, I’ve arrived? I know you’re always thinking about that next thing, but as you think about, this is kind of where I want to be in the next year or three years, what’s that path?
It’s definitely still looking at what my clients need. So I don’t do any financial products, insurance or anything, so I don’t have that wholesaler saying, “Hey, push this, push this.” My focus is on what my clients need, what’s going to be best for them. Long term, I started this and I really didn’t know what to expect. As it’s been growing, I’ve had clients that have stayed for another year with me. That’s what I want to build, is that comfort space for clients to come to me and say, “Hey, this is what’s going on. Can you help me?” They’re comfortable because I’m not trying to sell them anything. I’m just listening to them and figuring out the numbers. Numbers come easy to me. That’s the easy part.
That’s a gift.
Yeah. My favorite part is talking to people about it. Because having that safe place, that somebody is actually going to hold space for you to listen, made all the difference for me when I started working with my financial coach. That’s what I loved and that’s what I want to provide to people.
Well, I’m really impressed, because I think the world of financial planning has traditionally been kind of a lot of old white men. They’re coaching folks that are much older, right? That have worked 30 to 40 years and are approaching retirement age and are trying to move into cruise control. I feel like you’ve picked this millennial demographic where you’ve got a lifetime of support that you can provide. You also have a mindset where you know where they’re at. Which is awesome. So I have to ask, how’d you find out about PocketSuite and what’s your experience been?
It’s been amazing. So I actually started with a fitness coaching program. She used PocketSuite for invoicing and signing the agreement. So I asked her, before I was done and as I was kind of getting everything ready, I was like, “What app did you use? It was just so easy.” She told me. Ever since then, that’s what I use. It’s so simple. I love it.
That’s awesome. I always love hearing that coaches have coaches. I’m like, “Look!” I love that. Once you understand the power of coaching, why would you not? Right!?
Exactly. That’s one thing for me, that if I’m not willing to invest in a coach myself, how can I expect my clients or potential clients to invest in me if I’m not willing to do that myself? So it’s kind of a double-edged sword. If you don’t do it, then you’re kind of blocking all the people that could work with you.
Absolutely! Two tips to end on. Can you give us two tips for folks who aren’t yet ready to work with someone. Are there some quick things they can do that will get their head right as it relates to their money?
Well, it’s actually a good thing you brought it up. It’s March, almost March, so the easiest, simplest thing you can do is just write out a simple budget. I started mine literally on a piece of paper with a pen. I wish I would have kept it because it was probably like, car insurance and things like that. That was really important. So even if you track just groceries and then your lifestyle spending, just start small. That way it’s not super overwhelming and just track a couple of different things each month. Then soon, four or five months from now, you’ll be tracking everything you spend money on.
Second thing, make sure people know what you’re doing or what you’re trying to do. I tried doing it alone for so long and then, when I finally told people what I was doing, their comments just killed me because there’s, “Oh well, that’s a part of life. You’re always going to have debt.” So find somebody who believes in what you’re doing and can actually be there for you and support you, because it’s going to make a world of difference.
I love it! Create a budget and get an accountability buddy.
That’s really what it comes down to. You can make your budget as expansive as you want or super simple.
That helps me. I’m going to think of my husband as my accountability buddy, maybe that’ll help a little bit. Right? Haha.
Yeah. There you go. It’ll shift your thinking a little bit.
Stacia, it’s been awesome talking to you. Thank you so much for everything you’re doing, for being part of our community.
Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.