#FridayFollow: Celebrating 30 years of AFC.
How one long-standing AFC® built her career in financial education.
Dr. Barbara O’Neill, CFP®, AFC® is a financial education ’solopreneur’ and a longtime member and supporter of AFCPE®. She has served as Past President of AFCPE and has generously sponsored the Mary O’Neill Mini Grant, in honor of her late mother. She started out as a generalist in her first role with Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) as a County Extension Educator and gradually began to specialize. She now writes, speaks, and reviews content on personal finance topics for different clients and outlets through her private practice Money Talk…Read on to learn more about Barbara’s professional journey and all the amazing work she is doing!
AFCPE: What led you to a career in personal finance? And what inspires you to continue doing this work today?
Barbara: I started out as a generalist in my first role with Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) as a county Extension educator and gradually began to specialize. Three years into the job, in my late 20s, I started studying for the CFP® designation to have a “Plan B” career in case I didn’t get tenure. I did get tenure, however, and eventually became a state (NJ) financial resource management specialist. I worked for RCE for 41 years.
These days, I juggle a number of interesting client projects as a solopreneur. I am inspired by the opportunity to help people by simplifying complex personal finance content. Work projects also enable me to use a number of creative skills including writing and graphic design.
AFCPE: Practitioners are always looking for ways to put themselves out there and provide relevant content to consumers. As the CEO of “Money Talk: Financial Planning Seminars and Publications,” you have reached a large audience through speaking, writing, and reviewing content about personal finance. Can you tell us a bit about your blog? How did you get into blogging, what do you enjoy most about it, and any advice for those looking to start a blog?
Barbara: I started my Money Talk blog almost five years ago in May 2017. It began as a sabbatical project because then-Dean Goodman at Rutgers-SEBS said my sabbatical plan wasn’t rigorous enough and needed more projects. Today, the blog is a labor of love and a marketing tool for my company Money Talk. I post weekly and the blog is not monetized. I had no training in developing a blog and learned by watching videos and by trial and error. My advice is to have at least 5 posts written before going live and to upload new posts at regular time intervals.
AFCPE: It’s amazing to be celebrating 30 years of the AFC! How has the AFC made an impact on your career and on the field of personal finance?
Barbara: The AFC® helped by teaching me counseling skills at a time when I provided 1:1 counseling to individuals as a county Extension agent. I received my AFC® 27 years ago in 1995. Over the past 30 years, the AFC® has significantly upgraded the skills of myself and many others who provide individualized financial counseling.
AFCPE: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about working in personal finance and/or earning their AFC?
Barbara: Go for it if you have a passion for personal finance subject matter and for helping people. There’s also another benefit, personally, in addition to receiving a paycheck. If you “walk your talk” and “practice what you teach,” you will build wealth throughout your working career and achieve financial independence in later life like I did.
AFCPE: Tell us about a project or initiative you are currently working on?
Barbara: Each month, I write blog posts for OneOpPF and 403bWise. I am also creating content for peer financial educators at Passaic County Community College in NJ and continue to provide online personal finance programs and website content for RCE. I am also enjoying teaching personal finance courses for older adults through a non-profit foundation in Ocala, FL called Master the Possibilities, where I am on the faculty. Bottom line: I juggle a lot of different financial education projects and I love it!
Want to learn more about Barbra and her journey? Check out our Real Money, Real Experts podcast episode: Exploring Transitions – A look at AFCPE® through the years and Changing Careers with Barbara O’Neill, AFC®
AFCPE: What is the best way to connect with you?
Barbara answers the Friday 5:
- My Why: Financial literacy is an essential life skill for people of all ages.
- My Favorite Quote: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
- My Hero: My “Village”; i.e., family members, friends, co-workers, and colleagues who have mentored, supported, encouraged, and challenged me over the years.
- My Favorite Resource: Annual Limits Relating to Financial Planning from Kaplan
- My Best Advice: Learn one new thing every day about personal finance.
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Start small. Every small step makes a difference. See Small Steps to Health and Wealth for ideas.
- For a new professional: Find professional role models, mentors, and project collaborators and learn from them.