Hi, I’m Barry. I was raised in an environment where money mattered. I understood the difference between needs, wants and wishes and even though I messed up a lot along the way, I got pretty good at managing my own money. I never learned about it in school – it just wasn’t taught for some reason. When I went off to college, I learned a lot about how to keep track of money. I learned all about basic Accounting principles and setting up business budgets, and I even learned a little about managing personal finances. But there was still very little to be learned about setting up the household finances. It just wasn’t a subject of focus. Then I went to work for the credit card division of one of the world’s largest financial institutions in the world. As a debt collector for this company, I quickly discovered that a huge number of people had no clue how to manage their money. They would borrow way more than our company should have let them and would have no good way to pay it back. They would share these heart-wrenching stories that would make excellent fodder for a classic country song and my job was to convince them to give me some of their money anyway.
It wasn’t long before I realized I was talking to literally thousands of people who had never been taught how to handle money. When I would suggest to someone to use a calendar to help track their finances or to always live within their means they would respond as though I was crazy! Eventually I was promoted and given the opportunity to train new debt collectors who were hired. I learned then that I needed to not only train these folks, but also to help them pick up some tips on gaining control of their money too. Thus, my career as a financial counselor was born. I value the years I spent in the credit card industry because I learned so much about what people simply aren’t taught.
Here’s the problem: Our society expects adults to somehow magically “get it” when it comes to handling their finances, but if I made it through six years of college and three degrees – all focused on Business and Accounting – and had learned no more than what I had about personal finance, this was a huge miss in our education system. There are so many people who need help understanding how to handle their money. God gave me the gift of understanding that finance has very little (dare I say virtually nothing) to do with money. It is all about behavior. It is all about setting priorities and really understanding what is important. As a financial counselor, I have the privilege of helping people take on the monster of debt they’ve built and gain victory over it.