Brandy Baxter is a 2011 FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship recipient and financial coach. As a public speaker and owner of her own business Living Abundantly, she coaches and educates people on a variety of money matters, from budgeting to credit and debt management. In her work, she is truly setting the standard.
AFCPE: What inspired you to enter this field?
Brandy: When my husband and I married, we needed someone to help us understand our finances as a couple. We met people who wanted to sell us products, but we wanted to be educated. So, I researched. I learned and tried true principles to eliminate consumer debt. While we were eliminating over $75K in debt, I saw the principles working and started telling others what we were doing. Soon, I realized most people simply wanted to be educated on the basics and not sold products right away. So, I began looking for a program that would teach me how to help people understand their money.
While a student at Golden Gate University, I took a class taught by Saundra Davis, Sage Financial Solutions and it changed my life. I learned about Behavioral Finance and how money attitudes are the root of money choices. I knew that was the path I wanted to be on – helping people understand their relationship with money and how factors like family, environment, and exposure play a role in our decision-making process.
At the time, I was a military spouse and my best friend told me about the AFCPE/FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship. I applied, was accepted, and I’ve been on this journey ever since.
AFCPE: As an Air Force veteran, what drives you to stay connected to the military?
Brandy: The military feels like the largest fraternal organization in the country. I learned so much about serving others while in the military that it has become part of my DNA. I stay connected with the military community because of the instant camaraderie. There’s a feeling of acceptance in the military community that is hard to find anywhere else. The military has opened so many doors of opportunity for me, I feel I have a responsibility to continue giving back to the community that has given and continues to give so much to me.
AFCPE: What impact has the AFC® and the FFC® training made towards your work and approach with clients?
Brandy: The AFC® has given me the confidence to let my clients know I’m serious about my profession. Once I explain to them the process of earning the AFC, I remind them I have the education, experience and ethics to provide them the best service I can. I then explain my fiduciary responsibility to act in their best interest and it gives them peace of mind that I’m not a scam artist or any other type of unsavory individual.
The FFC® training has taken my coaching to the next level. Now I’m more attentive to what my client is not saying. This allows me to “listen between the lines” during the coaching session and create a space where clients feel their power over their situation. The FFC training has made me more respectful of silence during sessions because I realize that is often when the client is experiencing a collision between what they are saying aloud and what they really believe.
AFCPE: What an important skill to master! We really admire your passion and how you are utilizing both designations. What’s next? What’s got you most excited?
Brandy: Wow! I’ve always got something going on! Recently I was asked to speak at an event, spotlighting veterans in poverty. While researching for this event, I learned women veterans have higher rates of poverty than males and minority women veterans are even more susceptible due to a compounding of various socio-economic factors. This saddened me and I now feel compelled to use whatever platform available to me to raise awareness about women who have served our country and now cannot afford to take care of their families. You can expect to hear more from me on this subject.
I also co-founded a group called BlackGirlFinMagic, for women of color who are personal financial educators or business owners. Our focus is to encourage and engage women who look like us and who share our same passion for personal finance. We promote collaboration and community and we provide a safe space for those who feel they are part of a minority; as women and as women of color. I’m excited to see the group grow and we’ll be launching a blog series this summer where we’ll spotlight women from our group.
Brandy answers the Friday 5:
1. My Why: I want to equip people to live abundantly.
2. My Favorite Quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi
3. My Hero: My daughters. They inspire me to leave a legacy that their children can be proud of.
4. My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: Google…I can find anything I need from spreadsheets and calculators to definitions and discounts.
5. My best advice:
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-ness: “I’m not here to judge you, I’m here to journey with you.”
- For a new professional entering this field:
“You have to believe in yourself and then others will too.”
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