Written By: Laura Hendrix, Ph.D., AFC®
Her Money Matters: The Missing Truths from Traditional Money Advice was written by Jen Hemphill and published in 2018. I interviewed Jen about the book and her work as an Accredited Financial Counselor®.
In the book, you refer to yourself as a money confidence coach. What is a money confidence coach?
When I first became an Accredited Financial Counselor, there was confusion about what that was. As I worked with my clients, they talked about the confidence they gained. As the term “coach” is gaining recognition as a specific credential, I am transitioning to the term “Money Confidence Mentor” because it is more descriptive of the direction my work is going.
How did you become interested in financial management?
In my money story, there was always a lack of money and conversations revolved around what we could afford.
How did you get started in financial management education?
I was a biology major and was planning to work in physical therapy. My master’s degree was in Gerontology and I was preparing to return to Colombia and become a physical therapist. Then, I met my husband and that plan disappeared. I was thrust into the life of a military spouse. I wanted a career, but I also had a vision of being home with my kids. I knew my husband would travel and it was important for me to be there for my kids. My husband shared an email about the Military Spouse Fellowship. (The Military Spouse Fellowship program provides military spouses the opportunity to earn the AFC® – Accredited Financial Counselor® certification—while providing financial counseling and education to the military community.). I already had an interest in money management and had been reading books on the topic. I became an Accredited Financial Counselor and decided to consult and create my business online.
What inspired you to want to write this book?
I had been podcasting for several years when I was contacted by a small publisher to write a book. My first reaction was “Does he realize I’m a podcaster?”. After I calmed down, I realized it was an honor to be asked. I eventually ended up self-publishing so I could pursue my vision for the book.
Why is this money book specifically for women?
I started a podcast in 2015. At the time, there were very few podcasts for women. We know that how you manage, pay bills, and save is the same for men and women but I wanted to create a platform where women could relate to each other. It is for women from the perspective of a woman.
You share a lot of your own money story in this book and talk about the long-term effect of lessons learned in childhood in a low-income family and feelings of being “lesser than.” How might this impact someone’s adult behavior around money?
It creates limiting beliefs that last into adulthood. I still see this in my own parents. Even though they have a good nest egg, they still feel they can’t retire. They continue to worry about having enough. It can limit what you can and can’t do.
Part 1 of the book is entitled Your Mind Drives All Things. Why is it important to begin a financial management book addressing thoughts, feelings and topics like self-care?
In my experience, focusing on what was going on in my mind and understanding my money story helped me to think more clearly. I was more open to abundance and what I felt capable of doing. Regarding self-care – money management can be a big weight of responsibility. I noticed that when I didn’t take care of myself, I was no good to myself, my family, or my finances. When you take care of yourself, it clears your head. When your head is clear you make better decisions – financial or otherwise.
In the book, you invite the reader to make a list of self-care practices. What’s at the top of your list for self-care?
Exercise. Taking time out from my phone, work, everything. Reading a book. Going outside.
What is the “Big Why” and why is it important?
The “Big Why” is what drives you. Dive deep. For example, maybe you want to get out of debt? Why do you want to get out of debt? The result of getting out of debt might be to free more money to work toward a goal, or to set a good example for your children. What motivates you?
Fear, confidence, and taboo about money conversations can block our Big Why. How can we deal with these blocks?
Look back at your money story. Look at what you saw, experienced, and heard. How does that relate to your life now? Are you repeating these cycles? Recognize and understand blocks. Look at what you are surrounding yourself with now. Books, people, the internet – what you consume has an impact on you.
In an examination of how financial goals are related to a bigger purpose in life, you write that being debt free and financially stable helped you have a better marriage. How are those two things tied together?
When we married, I had a car loan and my husband had student loans. It was a weight on us. We made some good and some not-so-good decisions. We bought a home that we were unable to sell after the market crashed. Our income fluctuated when we were overseas. We moved back to the U.S. and learned that our second child was on the way. Later, we were living in an area where the best schools were private schools and I was putting pressure on myself to earn more money. I decided to go back to work and became a case worker for individuals with mental health problems who were in jail. I would go visit clients in jail. My job was to help connect them with services they needed. After that, I became a RealtorⓇ in an effort to increase my income. I continued to feel pressure to do something.In comparison, my husband seemed very laid back. I was very frugal and by the book. I would only spend on “needs” and he would spend on “wants”. Becoming debt free took some of the financial pressure off and helped us be on the same page with money.
Your book lists some of the traditional educational tactics for financial management education focused on spending less, saving more, and getting out of debt. But say these aren’t enough and that we need to design our dream budget. What is a dream budget and why do we need one?
A dream budget is how you want to be spending money. Maybe if you are living paycheck to paycheck, you would like more wiggle room to spend more at the grocery store or to go on trips. In your dream budget, you assign a dollar amount that you would like to be able to spend. Then you can compare your dream budget to your current reality. You have a tangible, dollar amount that you see. It helps us visualize and serves as a motivator.
You say that we need to understand and claim the title of CWO or Chief Wealth Officer. What is that and how do I become one?
CWO is a confidence-building title. It’s about owning the relationship you have with your money and recognizing that your money needs guidance. As CWO, you are driving the decisions of where your money goes; as well as making sure that goals come to fruition.
Your book recommends that we have money accountability partners. Why is that important?
We can’t do things alone. When you share your goals and plans with someone else, you are responsible to someone besides yourself. Your accountability partner may be a family member, or it could be a financial counselor or other professional. Make sure it is someone who is aligned with what you want to achieve.
The book contains writing prompts to encourage self-exploration. One of the techniques used several times is ‘brain dump’. What is ‘brain dump’?
The ‘brain dump’ is writing down everything that’s on your mind. It helps us avoid overthinking and judgment. It helps get everything on paper and from there you can prioritize. Write everything down and then decide what is and isn’t important.
You state that 10% of your money headquarters is made up of money skills?
In my experience, the biggest component is your money mindset, 70%. Money actions – like saving, managing debt, budgeting – are often the focus of money management but are really only about 20% of what I see as the money headquarters.
In addition to the book, you’ve had a podcast for several years. How do we find your podcast?
The podcast is Her Dinero Matters (previously known as Her Money Matters) is available on your podcast app on your smart device, any place you listen to podcasts, or at www.jenhemphill.com/podcast/. Her Dinero Matters takes a more Latina centric focus including culture and how it pertains to money. I noticed there was very little for Latinas. Due to the gender wage gap, I felt this was an important segment of the population for me to reach. Latinas have the biggest wage-gap among all ethnicities of women. Women may take pauses in their careers. We may also need to negotiate higher salaries. While I can’t solve the problem, I can create a platform to have comfortable money conversations and build confidence. My vision is that these ladies will be savvier with their finances. When we are more confident, we can do so much more including making better financial decisions.
Where can we find the book and workbook?
In addition to the book, there is also a workbook. Find the book and workbook on Amazon.
You dedicated the book to your husband and sons. What one thing do you hope your sons learned from you about money?
I hope they learn to be confident in owning that they can do what they want with their money instead of letting money limit them.
What else would you like to tell AFCPE members?
Your story and your message are unique. Embrace that and be open to sharing that with others. You don’t know who may be waiting to hear your message.