Todd Christensen, AFC® is a financial educator and counselor who works with students and clients of all ages to manage their money on a day-to-day basis. Todd helps people use financial tools for building their financial hopes and dreams, while also guiding them along their path to financial stability, security, and success. As a past AFCPE Board Member and a strong advocate for this field, we are excited to feature Todd in this week’s Friday Follow.
AFCPE: What inspired you to enter this field?
Todd: I was terrible with money as a young adult. For example, I maxed out my first credit card to the tune of $2,000 in about 36 hours and took my second card 60% past its limit within two months. I was in credit card debt and dealing with the resulting stresses and barriers to stability for my entire 20s. So, when I found this position with a nonprofit credit counseling agency, I combined my passion for personal finance with my love for teaching and training to create an ideal career for myself. Becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor® with AFCPE later seemed a natural evolution in my own progress as a practitioner.
AFCPE: What project or initiative are you currently working on that has you most excited?
Todd: I have developed an interactive online course for middle and high school students called, “My Life My Choices”. The course takes a fun and entertaining classroom-based presentation and makes it accessible to a larger audience in a format that takes just 30 minutes or so to complete. Its premise transports the students ahead in time to their first month of college, away from home, and fully in charge of their financial priorities and day-to-day cash management. Based upon their personal preferences, events of their first month will lead to spending or earning more than expected. The goal: avoid incurring overdraft fees while ending the month at or above where they started with their account balance. Can they survive food poisoning, job loss, sick animals, tow trucks, thrift stores, a new boyfriend/girlfriend, and possibly even a flood?
“My Life My Choices” will be available through our Money Fit Academy (MoneyFit.org/Academy) as a free program with downloadable materials and an auto-generated certificate of completion for participants by mid- to late June 2019. Additional versions will be forth coming, including one for new parents, one for those coming out of correctional facilities, one for young adults moving out on their own, and one for college students about to graduate.
AFCPE: You also have a pre-symposium session planned again at this year’s AFCPE Symposium in Portland, OR – “5 Financial Faux Paus that Keep Consumers in Debt For-Ev-Er.” I’m intrigued. What should attendees expect?
Todd: Practical ideas with a side of goofiness. If you’ve seen the movie, “Sand Lot,” you’ll recognize the “For-Ev-Er” quote. I plan to lead participants through a checklist of things to look for when counseling their clients and provide practical solutions to address self-destructing financial behavior. As my “Debt Overlords” (participants) know from my 2018 pre-symposium session, I lead interactive and open discussions that take advantage of the great experience and high skill and knowledge levels of those in attendance to create new ideas and possibilities for approaching our craft. As a teaser, keywords that will come up in the presentation include “the shuffle fallacy,” “the MP Mentality” (not related to Military Police), “consistency,” “habits” and “overcoming opposition.” I hope you can join me.
AFCPE: And last, but certainly not least, as a long-time member of AFCPE, what about your connection to the organization has been most valuable to you in your work and career?
Todd: Picking just one valuable benefit from my connection to AFCPE is like picking a favorite child. My early membership on the Ethics Committee helped me build my own understanding of ethics’ foundational role in my counseling and education services. While on the conference program awards committee, I loved being inspired by the many fantastic programs AFCPE members have developed. My work on the Board of Directors solidified my confidence that the Association, its staff, and its leadership are fully dedicated to supporting me as a member to improve my skills, build my business, and connect with professionals around my region and around the country. Finally, the Annual Symposium is the highlight of my year, providing me with ideas to implement and work on over the following 12 months. This year’s conference will be my 11th in the past 12 years, and I can’t wait!
Todd answers the Friday 5:
- My Why: It is my innnermost belief that we exist here on earth to have joy, so I try to promote peace of mind, stability, and purpose in all work and relationships I’m involved in so joy can flourish.
- My Favorite Quote: “Forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best.” – Dallin Oaks. I quote this all the time when my kids want to spend their full afternoons watching a “good” show or movie 🙂
- My Hero: In all my studies, I have learned of numerous people I admire and appreciate, but I have found no one I could admire more than my wife and my own parents. They typify service to others, faith-fill living, and dedication to each other and to family.
- My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: The AFCPE Annual Symposium. In three days, I seem to get more answers and come up with more ideas for my work than I do the other 362 days of the year.
- My Best Advice:
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Learn from my mistakes rather than having to make them all on your own. I included many of them in my 2014 book, Everyday Money for Everyday People. Otherwise, remember generosity first and pay yourself before you pay your bills.
- For a new professional entering the field: Get involved! There are so many professionals inside and outside AFCPE who are willing to mentor, partner, and support you in your professional growth and services. We truly are stronger together than on our own.
Follow Todd at:
Email or Phone: 208-283-3283