The Finance Bar | Mobile Personal Finance Consulting

Budget3D jim stigmanMarsha Barnes is passionate about personal finance. Her business takes place in a retrofitted school bus. Inside is a mobile personal finance hub. Marsha drives around the Charlotte area and provides financial advice to various clients who want to learn more about budgeting and saving. To supplement her mobile consulting business, she offers services online with clients from all over the world.

A few key factors that Marsha wants others to realize about her business is that she is not a financial advisor. She prefers to be recognized as a personal finance consultant. She concentrates on helping others to understand some foundational topics in finance such as the purpose of credit and good usage tips.

This business woman took many factors into consideration when starting her business. She knew she wanted to help the Charlotte community, especially in a time where many people were getting laid off. In the course of her life, Marsha Barnes saw her parents get through a time where both of them were laid off from their jobs. This took place after each put in over twenty years of work. She noted that both handled the situation with finesse. There was no reason to panic because they consistently lived below their means. The situation was an inconvenience that they could handle and not an emergency that had grave consequences. The difference between the two responses is very significant, thus leading Marsha to explore this further as a finance professional.

The Finance Bar is the name of Marsha Barnes’ consulting business. Inside the bus one can find an area for refreshments such as tea and coffee. There are also workstations with laptops. There are yellow barstools and a small sofa inside as well. Offerings of the Finance Bar include consulting sessions between $30 and $50 per session. There is even a membership selection where one can pay $10 per month and get tools and exercises for better understanding personal finance.

To learn more about this finance business, visit The Charlotte Observer online here.

Financial Literacy for High School Students

apple-jim stigmanFreshman at Garden City High School participated in a simulation exercise to increase their financial literacy. Students were assigned salaries based on a survey they filled out. The questions invited students to indicate their desired profession, marital status, how many kids they want, and lifestyle choice like future shopping habits. From this, a life profile was developed for each student. This program was hosted by Communities in Schools and called Reality U.

Jack Koehn, a freshman at Garden City High School was assigned a salary that was quite humble. Through the simulation, Jack explored ways to make ends meet. After buying a house, car, and paying student loans, he realized his funds disappeared rapidly. Koehn was just one of several students who had a financial wake up call.

The life profile for each student was created from the student answers to several questions on a questionnaire. The output of the profile included pertinent information such as their salary, credit score, and profession. Afterwards, booths were set up for students to purchase everything they needed such as clothing and housing. The profile was also created based on each student’s GPA.

Reality University had a strategic way of emphasizing the importance of grades. It became clear that those who did not put enough effort in school ended up with lower salaries and financial opportunities. A big takeaway from the program was for students to understand that their success in school in a big factor in their lifestyle afterward.

The entire simulation program was a key learning experience for students to become more financially literate. They learned how to budget and actually got exposed to a skillset many older people were never taught. Throughout the experience, the students had advisors to guide them along. Those who did not reach their financial goals had a wake up call. It opened their eyes to the fact that they have the choice to create the life they want to live. Several now aim to obtain better grades.

For more information, visit the Garden City Telegram online here.

Financial Literacy and Domestic Violence

Jim Stigman Domestic Abuse and Financial LiteracyDomestic violence is not a new problem. Around the world, domestic violence has resulted in uncountable injuries, both physical and mental, and deaths. Thankfully, recently it seems there has been an undeniable surge in the interest in this topic. Following a vicious beating by former Ravens running back Ray Rice, the NFL began actively campaigning against domestic violence, releasing advertisements and discussing the topic openly in press conferences. This led to a larger outpouring of support for victims and survivors of domestic violence. The support came in many ways, but one of the most important, was through financial education opportunities.

One element of abuse that is often overlooked is financial abuse. Often, an abusive spouse or partner withholds funds, denies the other partner opportunities to work, or even steals the other partners identity and intentionally ruins their credit. These tactics work to ensure the abused does not feel comfortable ever leaving as they are now entirely dependent on the abuser. These abhorrent tactics rely almost entirely on a lack of financial education. If the abused knew how to handle their finances, they could use strategies to secret away money or take control of accounts when they have the courage to leave.

Financial education is helpful for survivors as well. Many survivors claim one of the reasons they stayed in an abusive relationship was because they were scared to be out in the world on their own financially speaking. They had concerns that they did not know how to handle money and would end up homeless or worse. They saw the abusive relationship as at least better than those horrible alternatives.

To help these survivors and people currently abused, I have posted a list of tips here:

  • Attempt to save money in your own name whenever possible. If necessary, save it under a friend’s address as it will be more difficult for the abuser to find it.
  • Keep track of all the necessary details about your financial life, for example, account numbers, bank statements, retirement funds, etc. Store these in a safe place and try to protect them from the abuser.
  • When leaving, attempt to take at least half of the money stored in joint accounts and transfer it to an account controlled only by you or take it in cash so that the abuser cannot drain the account and deny you access to funds that are rightfully yours.

These tips are helpful, of course, but if you know anyone in need of help, please refer them to, a site dedicated to helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse improve their financial knowledge. They have much more information there that can help. With education, we can help victims escape, survivors flourish, and even prevent future abuse.

Practical Skills Take Practice

How many times have you seen a child these days cross the street while looking at their phone? Maybe one of your children doesn’t know how to send a letter in the mail, or how to even write a letter on paper! Do you find it easy to believe that plenty of teenagers in America don’t know how to wash dishes properly?

Jim Stigman Kids Balancing actOur nation’s children are struggling to gain practical skills in the digital age. With so much emphasis at school on standardized testing performance, kids are becoming experts at answering multiple choice questions but not much else. The sad truth is, this lack of practical knowledge can truly harm them in the future.

Arguably the most important piece of practical knowledge our children are lacking is how to deal with their finances. Not knowing how to wash dishes would leave a kitchen full of dirty, slimy dishes. Any person would realize, woah, these need to be washed again and I need to do it better this time. Lesson learned. When it comes to finances, the stakes are much higher. If you wake up one day to find your car needs a repair in order for you to get to work and when you arrive at the shop you discover you have no money left in the bank — in fact you over-drafted your account and are now being charged — the consequences are much, much more dire.

So, how can we ensure our children are not left in that position in their future? Parents everywhere need to hold themselves accountable for the financial literacy of their kids, yes. But, some parents are lacking in that area as well so we must as a nation take action to teach parents and children alike how to manage money.

It should come as no surprise that in a recent study, only 30 percent of Americans were able to correctly answer three basic finance questions (one regarding interest, one inflation, and one stocks). Americans did not do as poorly as some nations — 96% of Russians answered the questions incorrectly — but we were short of the mark of many EU nations, for example 53% of Germans answered all the questions correctly.

This problem can solved by requiring that financial education classes be taught in schools and by making classes available online for adults. A small amount of financial literacy can go a long way towards making the lives of middle class families across the nation better and strengthen the core of our country.

Financial Literacy

There’s an epidemic sweeping across our nation. It is not a sickness in the traditional sense but it is just as harmful; it is ubiquitous across all racial, geographic and even in some cases socio-economic lines. This plague is called financial illiteracy and, according to some studies, it affects over 75% of all Americans.

Being smart with your money isn't hard! So why aren't Americans doing it?

Being smart with your money isn’t hard! So why aren’t Americans doing it?

Financial literacy is a term used to describe the ability that an individual has to properly manage his or her money. Creating budgets, paying off debt, saving, and investing are all fantastic steps to taking control of the financial future. However, according to a study conducted yearly by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), only 40% of adults in the US keep a budget. That means the majority of American adults do not keep a budget. That number alone is dumbfounding. How come more people aren’t doing these relatively simple things?

Americans have a history of being frugal. Our Puritan ancestors who landed on Plymouth Rock had to live very cheap, tightly rationed lives in order to survive the harsh winters and difficult farming conditions of their new home. Over the years, as the United States has prospered and grown to be one of the leading global economic powers, our citizens have enjoyed greater and greater luxury. The focus of our lives today is vastly different from that of our cultural ancestors, today most of us don’t have to worry about whether our crops will last us through the winter or how much wood we need to chop in order to make it through a cold night. This luxury means we don’t think as much abo

ut the future and instead enjoy the moment. This is a terrific thing for modern humans as it has given us the time we need to invent and create marvelous things that continue to improve our quality of life. But, this has led us into financial trouble.

There is a way out. As a nation, we simply have to focus on educating our citizens. By making governmental programs dedicated to teaching high schoolers and even younger students the basics of household finance, we can ensure the next generation has the ability to manage their money wisely and provide for their future and the future of generations to come.


Financial Literacy in America

Financial Freedom is a possibility for every American, you just have to start steering yourself the right way!

Financial Freedom is a possibility for every American, you just have to start steering yourself the right way!

The vast majority of Americans are unable to process even some of the most basic economic and financial decisions. And often when they do make financial decisions, those decisions will have a negative impact on their finances for years to come. At a time when financial issues are becoming more complex, many Americans do not have even a basic understanding of the economics of finance, saving, investing, debt, and capital. It’s little wonder then that only one third of Americans are saving any of their income* and that the average American family carries $225,000 of debt.**

Financial literacy is an individual’s ability to make informed decisions about even basic economic concepts such as earning, saving, growing, borrowing, lending, giving, and protecting money. By better understanding the forces that affect money, how to manage spending and debt, and the basics of investing and money management, many people can become debt free and substantially increase their savings and financial strength.

Most people know what they know, and they know what they don’t know. But they also don’t know what they don’t know. And it’s what they don’t know that will ultimately keep them from making good financial decisions. Good financial education is teaching people what they don’t know and increasing their financial I.Q.

* The 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Harris Poll, 2014.
** GoBankingRates study, 2011.

Overcoming Failure As A Business Leader


I was reading a Forbes article written in 2012 about great leaders who overcame defeat to later achieve greatness in business. In our society, comeback stories make for inspiring Hollywood movies, but in reality, how difficult is it to handle failing in the workplace?

[Read more…]

How The College Planning Team Can Help You

A parent’s life is a busy one. You don’t get to take breaks. You constantly plan for tomorrow, making sure that your children’s lives will be fulfilling. All the while crossing your fingers in hopes that they will grow up to be successful adults.

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When it comes to college, the stress meter hits an all-time high. There can be piles of forms to fill out before they even apply to college, there’s the financial information you have to organize, let alone the endless deadlines that you cannot miss. And to top it all off you are already busy keeping up with work and raising a family. You don’t have to go it alone. There is help available.

When it comes to planning for college there is little room for mistakes without severely impacting your child’s future, or your finances. You need someone you can trust. Someone who will look out for you and your child’s best interest. You need someone who understands.

College Planning Team is here to help you through the difficult process of college planning. Through a unique partnership with Professional Education Services (PES), we help families with everything from selecting the right college, to finding the funds to pay for it.

You might think that hiring our services is a waste of time; you may think that what we offer you can do all on your own. You could do it on your own, the basics anyway, but the basics won’t prepare you for the many aspects of the admissions process. PES helps each student figure out what they want to do, where they want to go, how to get accepted, etc.

Aside from being fully prepared, and being rid of all the stress and worry, PES can also save you thousands of dollars within your child’s first year of school.

The many benefits you receive from our program you can’t get by applying and planning on your own, or by only listening to your high school counselor. If you want outstanding results, you need to hire a professional. Parents often fear that they could be tricked or scammed by hiring a professional. They find it hard to believe that we offer so much. They don’t want to make any disastrous mistakes that prevent their child from going to college and having a successful future. PES is not a scam. The PES team  truly care about our clients, and will work in your family’s best interest.

For more information, please visit our website at

Jim Stigman is a defined outcome planner in Minnesota who specializes in assisting individuals with personal and business financial strategies. Currently, Jim Stigman serves as the President for TruMoney Designs. TruMoney Designs focuses on helping families and individuals eliminate debt, transition into the college funding years, protect their money for retirement, and improve their financial choices throughout their lifetimes. Jim Stigman also leads a college planning initiative in the Twin Cities as President of College Planning Team.

College Dream Builder: How to Begin Planning for College

The college admissions process isn’t what it used to be. No longer is there a guaranteed acceptance to any school. Having a 4.0, taking advanced placement classes, and having a laundry list of extra curricular activities doesn’t nail you a spot on Harvard’s acceptance list anymore.

So how are you supposed to guide your children in the right direction? How do you know the college advice you and your student’s high school guidance counselor’s give them will be enough? The bottom line is this; a college is a business and your student is the product. In order for your child to receive admission into the college of their dreams, you have to work the market.


It’s frustrating as a parent to watch your child work so hard toward their goal then watch their college dreams go unfulfilled because you didn’t know the rules in the college admissions game. If only you knew the secrets to prepare them properly for the obstacles of college selection.

Did you know that the admission process is different at each school? How do you manage all the details to ensure your child’s acceptance to their number one school? It’s all just too much. There are too many forms, too many deadlines, and too many details for a parent to keep up with.

You can’t do it alone.

At College Planning Team, we engage the team at Professional Education Services to work with each student and help prepare them for the complicated admissions process. The College Dream Builder program will help guide them each step of the way. Every student receives the critical tools needed to navigate the maze we call college admissions.

For parents, the College Dream Builder alleviates the stress of navigating your child through the college admissions process and preparing them for four years at school. For students, the College Dream Builder helps them decide on their top choices and begin to embark on their desired career paths. For more information, please visit our website at

Jim Stigman is a Defined Outcome Planner in Minnesota who specializes in assisting individuals with personal and business financial strategies. Currently, Jim Stigman serves as the President for TruMoney Designs. TruMoney Designs focuses on helping families and individuals eliminate debt, transition into the college funding years, protect their money for retirement, and improve their financial choices throughout their lifetimes. Jim Stigman also leads a college planning initiative in the Twin Cities as President of College Planning Team.