It was my senior year of high school and like the rest of my classmates, I was eager with anticipation of what the next year of my life would bring. However, while I was busy making plans to attend college, things took a sudden turn in a different direction…
I became pregnant.
Now, instead of college applications and applying for scholarships, I was applying for a marriage certificate and starting a family.
Then, two years later, a handful of days after Christmas, when I was eight and a half months pregnant with our second child, my 21 year old husband decided he wanted to be single.
I’ll never forget the day. I was in the hospital, having just given birth to my daughter; my family had gone for the evening and my, now ex-husband who had been present for the birth, had gone forever. My daughter had been moved to the nursery and the room was quiet for the first time.
And I was alone.
I remember lying on my side in my hospital bed, weighted with every financial fear I could ever imagine, and crying without knowing. A nurse passed my open door and seeing me stopped and asked if I was okay…
It was all I could manage to say. That was the day, the moment I had to face the truth: I was a statistic. Not only was I a teenage pregnancy, but now I was also a divorced woman and single mother of two at age 20. I wasn’t okay – I was frustrated at where I was in life. I became determined from that point forward that, though I may be a statistic, my children would not be.
Shortly after leaving the hospital, I drew a line in the sand and declared that I would find a way to better my life and give my children everything they needed to be successful adults. I knew college was the best way to position myself to do that, so I began taking classes. I gave up my job as a bank teller and opened up a daycare business in my home so I could maximize my time with my kids and still go to school. As a single mom, I could only manage two classes at a time in the evenings, but I was moving forward. It took me nine and a half years to earn my bachelor’s degree in accounting and I stayed an extra year to get my master’s in tax. I became a CPA right afterward.
My determination translated into the acquisition of valuable knowledge, important connections to wonderful networks of people, and eventually career opportunities. In 2007, I became a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) professional. In 2012, I became a CDFA™ (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst).
The truth is, I have always been a “numbers girl.” I have always been comfortable with budgeting, managing investments, and financial planning – it’s the very reason I was able to stare the otherwise debilitating statistics of “teenage pregnancy” and “divorced single mother at 20” in the eye and methodically tear them down and conquer them. My love of numbers saved me… and now my love of numbers can save others like me.
I know that most women wouldn’t consider themselves number-lovers. The more conversations I have with women about money and investing, the more I see that there is a real need for them to have someone they can trust and who understands how women feel about money. For men, money is more tangible – an object. For women, money holds more meaning. I know the questions women ask themselves about money: “Will I be financially secure when I no longer work?” Or “Will I have the money to travel to visit my grandchildren several times a year?” Or “Will I be able to support myself if I need to?” “Will I become a financial burden to my children?” I know these questions, because I asked them of myself.
There aren’t many financial experts who understand the way women look at money, because there aren’t many financial experts who are women. That is why it has become my mission to help women in this area of their lives.
I have struggled to put groceries on the table and gas in the car while raising my children. I have cried over my checkbook register—not sure how I would make the mortgage payment. I have worried about saving enough… all of it. And I came out on top. Now I have the opportunity, the honor, to help other women become confident managers of their own wealth.
I am passionate about making sure that no woman suffers for lack of a good plan for her future. I am passionate about being there for the woman who fears becoming a statistic of any kind. Life is too short to spend worrying about money and living in lack of it.
It’s likely that the moment in which you had to face all of your financial fears didn’t happen as you lay in a hospital bed, alone, at 20 years old after just giving birth… But let me assure you, no matter where – no matter how; if that moment ever comes, and a caring person asks if you are okay, it is my mission to ensure you can confidently answer, “I will be.”