#FridayFollow: Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month with Simi Mandelbaum, CFT™, AFC®
Simi Mandelbaum is a Certified Financial Therapist™ and an Accredited Financial Counselor®. Her mission is to reduce the stress and anxiety individuals and couples feel about their money lives by using a combination of financial literacy education, financial tools, and therapeutic modalities.
AFCPE: What led you to a career in personal finance? And what inspires you to continue doing this work today?
Simi: Experiencing my own money trauma, I found I was not acting true to myself when I was facing money issues. That led me to self-exploration and education about money and emotions. The knowledge helped me improve my personal relationships and made me want to share that knowledge with the world at large.
I’m inspired when I initially meet a couple in pain, often arguing with their spouse or partner, and then watching them leave my office with a sense of calm and being in sync. Getting follow up calls when they reach their milestones are always cause for celebration.
AFCPE: What does Jewish American Heritage Month mean to you? How has your Jewish heritage influenced or informed your work in personal finance or financial counseling?
Simi: I look at Jewish American Heritage Month as a time to be grateful to the United States and all its people. My grandparents and in-laws survived the hell of the concentration camps and were liberated by US soldiers during WWII.
My heritage and background, as well as my education, have all taught me that we all are children of G-d, regardless of belief, color, and creed, and that we are obligated to help our fellow people, who are our brothers and sisters. It is unfortunate that even today, we experience antisemitism and being stereotyped. How often have I heard, “Oh, you’re Jewish, you don’t understand what it means to be poor.” I can tell you, when I was a single mom with 5 kids, trying to get whatever aid I could to survive, it didn’t help being stereotyped by social services and other people as “not being in need.” I’ve been there, and I want to help everyone, regardless of faith, creed, or color, to thrive financially!
AFCPE: The Jewish American community is culturally diverse, and faith may play a large role in how individuals and families manage their finances. What do you want our readers to know in regard to personal finances within the Jewish faith?
Simi: Jewish clients have diverse experiences. Their cost of living seems higher than average, due to the added costs of kosher food, tithing their income for charity, private school tuition for Jewish studies and generally larger family size. Many have little understanding of how money works.
AFCPE: You earned your AFC® in 2019. How did you learn about the certification and why did you decide to pursue the AFC?
Simi: When researching money counseling and therapy, I came across the AFCPE website and read the literature. The course material for the AFC seemed tailor made for me. It provided an excellent combination of financial literacy, ethical and counseling knowledge.
AFCPE: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about working in personal finance and/or earning their AFC?
Simi: There are so many areas of personal finance. If your goal is to help people, help them emotionally, economically and see them as something other than a potential dollar bill coming your way, the AFC is the perfect education and designation to earn.
AFCPE: Tell us about a project or initiative you are currently working on?
Simi: I am developing a method to simplify the cash flow planning process for ordinary non-accountants, so it is easier to understand, takes less time to work with and is not as intimidating to regular people.
AFCPE: What is the best way to connect with you (social links, etc.)?
Simi answers the Friday 5!
- My Why: To educate/counsel people that they don’t need to suffer needlessly. To empower people to move forward armed with knowledge, hope and confidence, SO they shouldn’t suffer, and destroy their relationships.
- My Favorite Quote: “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” – Bob Marely
- My Hero: My parents – Teachers, people of faith, and a source of endless love
- My Favorite Resource: People! Fellow AFCPE members, and the other professionals in the field
- My Best Advice: Don’t let money tell you what to do, Tell your money what to do for you!
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Compound Interest is the magic to financial abundance. There is no such thing as starting too early or thinking that you don’t have a big enough amount to save that would make a difference.
- For a new professional: Be passionate, honest, and understanding. Try to see the landscape in the way your client sees it, so you can provide information & guidance that is relevant to them. Remember, Money is 90% emotion, 10% math!