Financial Coach Trisha Funk
● By Kerri Regan
Story by Kerri Regan
Photos: Jeannine Hendrickson
It’s your first week of college, and a friendly salesperson in the quad says that if you sign up for this credit card, you’ll get a free blanket. You’d like to start building some credit, and the blanket is awfully cute – so you sign on the dotted line.
What the fine print reveals, however, is that your “free” blanket is going to cost you $75 a year in annual fees – even if you never charge a thing on the card. Not so much of a deal, after all.
Scenarios like these prompted Redding financial coach Trisha Funk to start hosting unique workshops like the “Mother-Daughter Money Date,” where she aims to empower the next generation of financially savvy women.
“Women make decisions differently than men, and finances are no different,” she says. “Finances can be very intimidating. If women can’t understand the power they have in learning to make great financial decisions, they’re at an absolute disability with where they can go in their life.”
Funk worked as an investment adviser, insurance agent and stockbroker for more than a decade, but it didn’t quite fit what she really wanted to do. “Clients would come in and want to invest for the future and create financial stability for themselves and their kids,” Funk says.
“They would say, ‘OK, here’s the $100 I can invest in my Roth IRA,’ but they were in debt $40,000 with their credit cards.”
So she started a 10-week after-hours “women’s wine group,” where they talked about different financial topics each week. “I’m a social, fun, ‘let’s get together and drink wine’ person, and we can have real conversations that way,” says Funk, who will soon sit for the Certified Financial Planner exam. “This was the stuff that I felt like I was put here to do – to guide people so they could walk into a financial office and make a huge impact on their financial stability.”
She quit her corporate job and started her own business almost two years ago, and has since coached people all over the world. Much of her time is spent with local nonprofits and organizations, like the Shasta College Upward Bound program, which requires a financial literacy component.
“People have to be educated – and not just on how to do a budget, because the ability to do addition and subtraction isn’t the issue with our finances,” Funk says. “It comes from a completely emotional place. We have this mindset about creating a budget, where you can’t have fun, you can only eat Top Ramen and hot dogs, you can never stop by Starbucks ever again. We need to step into our powerful position to make our own decisions.”
In her workshops, she helps people first identify what they want for their future, “then they can make decisions about that $4 Starbucks and $150 cable packages and a vacation to Europe every other year,” she says. “Without that framework, it’s very difficult to make daily decisions about our money, so we blow $4 every day on Starbucks when there might be something that’s actually more important to us.”
Michelle Miner took her stepdaughter, 15-year-old Mirabel, to the Mother-Daughter Money Date workshop last year (this year’s workshop will be renamed, since you needn’t be a mother-daughter pair to attend). “There are so many things teenagers don’t want to hear from parents,” Miner says. “This was the perfect format for her to receive really solid, valid information from someone who wasn’t her parent.”
Mirabel’s parents had already established a savings account for her, but after the workshop, she opened her own checking and savings account. “She’s been good about not wanting to spend that money,” Miner says. “When she got money for her birthday, she put most of it in savings. She’s understanding the value of money.”
The workshop included other financial experts who discussed debt, credit cards, student loans and the like, and “it was helpful to hear different perspectives,” Miner says. “You can make some really bad financial decisions with some really big repercussions. I want her to be educated on the front end before she’s in that situation.”
Knowledge is indeed power, Funk says.
“We talk about the ability to change the world,” Funk says. “If you have $100 in your pocket, you can choose to do good with it, but if you don’t have the $100 in your pocket, you can’t. Don’t give up what you ultimately want for what you want right now. And if haven’t identified what you ultimately want, it’s harder to make those decisions proactively.” •