Theresa Stevens, AFC® is a financial coach for recent college grads and young professionals who want to start adulthood off on the right financial track and build money skills for life.
Theresa: When I say “for life,” I mean helping them not just to get through a crisis or specific challenge, but helping them build the skills needed to live a financially healthy life, today and in the future.
I help primarily twenty-something’s who are making decent money but still find themselves with little left over in between paychecks. I help empower them to gain control over their money so they can start to use money as a tool to create the life they want.
AFCPE: What inspired or led you to pursue a career in this field?
Theresa: Growing up, my mom, who was a single mom, went through a lot of financial hardship and as a kid I just remember becoming fascinated by the invisible influence the adults around me referred to as “money.” I wanted to understand why and how money could control so much in our lives: why we had to move around so much, why I couldn’t go on class field trips and why my mom felt intense guilt and fear every time she bought anything.
From a young age, I resolved to learn everything I could about money so that I could help my mom and our family live a better life. I always wished that I knew then what I know now about finance, so I could have helped my mom when she needed it most.
Fortunately, I discovered the field of financial coaching and now as a Financial Coach; I now have the ability to help women like my mom and other individuals to improve their finances so they can live happier, more stable lives. I feel so lucky that I get to wake up every day and make a difference in people’s lives, because money affects EVERY aspect of someone’s life.
AFCPE: Share the most rewarding experience you have had so far.
Theresa: One of my most rewarding experiences was helping a client completely turn around her financial situation in less than a year. When we first started working together, she and her two sons were living in a room in a friend’s house, had high credit card debt, delinquencies on her credit report, no savings and she didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Just 8 months later, she had saved over $5,000, paid off several credit cards, increased her credit score from 600 to 720 and moved into her very own apartment. Perhaps most significantly, the story of what she believed was possible for her changed. She was more confident and intentional with her money and believed in her ability to accomplish any financial goal she set for herself.
AFCPE: Why did you decide to earn your AFC®?
Theresa: I decided to become an AFC because I wanted to increase my knowledge to ensure that I am giving my clients the best service possible. I also wanted my clients to know that I am held to a certain professional standard by an independent entity. I loved my AFC education so much that I returned for my FFC®.
AFCPE: What is the most valuable/surprising thing you’ve learned or gained through the AFC® program?
Theresa: Confidence! Getting my AFC education and attaining the mark increased my confidence in my ability to help people rewrite their financial stories.
AFCPE: What would you say to another young professional thinking of pursuing this certification?
Theresa: Do it! I think the AFC is especially great if you want to increase your confidence as a counselor or coach. The community you become a part of is also priceless!
AFCPE: When it comes to personal finance, what is your hope for the future?
Theresa: One of my hopes is that we all collectively make talking about money less of a taboo and more of a normal and necessary part of daily life. I know that there are people out there who don’t seek out the help they need because our culture places a lot of shame on asking for help with money. We would all be better off if money was something that could be freely talked about (and personal finance classes in K-12 education wouldn’t hurt either!)
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