Kira Dentes was introduced to AFCPE® just three years ago, when she applied and was awarded a 2013 FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship. Now an active member of the organization, she continues to make a lasting impact both in the organization and the field. The newly graduated AFC® shares more about her journey and “love affair” with financial counseling.
What inspired you to apply for the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program?
I learned about the fellowship through my volunteer work with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at Camp Lejeune, NC. After having trouble finding employment as a new military spouse, I needed a way to occupy my time and ended up finding a community of wonderful, dedicated professionals. There were several current or former fellows in the group that encouraged me to apply. I had already begun my new love affair with financial counseling and decided pursuing the AFC was a great way to jumpstart a new chapter in my life.
You currently work as a Financial Coach as part of the CFPB’s Financial Coaching Initiative. What part of this work has been most rewarding to you?
Most of my previous experience has been with primarily one-time counseling sessions. Working with clients in an ongoing relationship and watching them progress toward their goals is a great benefit of this job. Learning and applying the financial coaching techniques has not been an easy adjustment but it is incredibly rewarding to see clients develop their own solutions, which are often more creative and better for their situation than something I might have suggested.
What do you find most rewarding about being a member of AFCPE?
Attending the AFCPE Symposium the last two years has been a wonderful opportunity! The whole community is dedicated and passionate about personal finance and finding ways to improve financial lives. In addition to meeting wonderful people, I love the way the organization brings together professionals from different facets of the industry. As a practitioner, it is easy to get bogged down in the trenches. The conference is a great reminder of all the tools, resources, and research being done to give us more insight to serve clients.
This week, February 22-27, is Military Saves Week. What is your most memorable Savings Success Story?
I started working with a client when she was in transition from military service and between employment opportunities. She was going to school and completing an internship and wanted to organize her finances so she had more control over where her money was going. She wanted to pay off personal loan debt to give herself more freedom over her budget. She worked hard to organize her budgets and determine her spending leaks. Once she obtained solid employment, she was incredibly prepared and had more resources to begin taking a serious chunk out of her loan obligations. She is on track to pay off her entire loan in just 18 months!
And one of my favorite questions, what is your top personal finance advice?
I am crazy about budgets. I know not everyone loves the detail and planning of an extensive budget, but I think having some type of plan is essential to making your finances work for you. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed, complicated, or restrictive. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be written down, but knowing where you want your money to go puts you in control of your spending.