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Teacher Wealth 101

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I work at AO Wealth Advisory, located in Urbandale, Iowa as a financial planner and absolutely love being a part in peoples' financial journey.  Many families just need someone to walk with them as they make important decisions.  To ask them the right questions.  To challenge them.  To offer them accountability.  I am honored to be this person for my clients.

As a former teacher, I understand the challenges that educators face with their finances. In many ways I believe the financial services community has ignored the profession. I am trying to change that.

Professionally, I'm a member of the Financial Planning Association of Iowa and the Iowa Jump$tart Coalition

On the personal side, I've been married to my best friend Tisa for over 13 years.  We live in chaos most of the time in our Des Moines, Iowa home as we raise our four awesome kids.  We do our best to prioritize our marriage over everything else except our faith.  We are active members of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Des Moines.  Besides being with family, I enjoy cheering for the Iowa Hawkeyes and discussing money, religion, and politics. 

Below is a little story of why I do what I do...

The Book

I was in Brooklyn, New York completing a year-long volunteer service program when I checked out a book from the library about personal finance.  Reading this book changed my life!  It opened my eyes about money and forced me to see my finances differently.  I started to set some financial goals for myself and think about long-term strategies of how to reach them.

It was so empowering.  This knowledge could help not just me, but also others.  I thought that maybe I should help people with their money.  That would be very rewarding and I would be making a difference in people’s lives.  So when I came back to Iowa that August of 2001, I started applying for jobs as a financial advisor.  I had three interviews.  In all three, they had me take a personality test.  There would be no job offer.  Two of the people interviewing me said that I was not likely to be successful in the job because my personality test had shown I wasn’t motivated by money enough!  Basically, this was true… I instead was motivated by wanting to help people.  Looking back, I would not have succeeded at these jobs.  The focus was selling products instead of giving clients the advice they deserve.

The Call

Then, out of the blue, I got a call from an old neighbor.  This call resulted in me unexpectedly falling into a high school teaching job for the rest of the year.  I have been teaching at Southeast Polk High School ever since!

I liked teaching.  In a couple of years, because of a colleague's retirement, I began teaching economics.  I started to implement personal finance lessons that I learned from that original book and the other 50 or so financial books I had read since then.  This is where I found my passion.  I was teaching high school seniors life lessons regarding money as they were about to embark on the “real world”.  I could provide them valuable lessons at a crucial time in their lives.  Talk about important and rewarding work!  I still do this today, and love it!

The Journey

At some point I started to come back to the thought that I should be helping others as a financial advisor.  I wanted to expand this passion I had for helping teenagers to helping families. I had come across the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ program and completely bought into the idea of helping people holistically with their finances.  There was a process to take them through.  It wasn’t just about investing people’s money, it was instead about walking with them along their journey and helping them make wise financial decisions.  This is what impacted their lives the most.  It wasn't about selling financial products to people.  It was about getting to know them well and helping them whatever their needs are, not just with how much money they will have but also their emotional state, anxiety level, contentment, and fulfillment they have in their lives.  This I can do!

I began taking the classwork required to earn the CFP® designation.  I started slowly at first, only taking a class each summer while I wasn’t teaching.  Eventually, I quickened the pace of my classwork and after finishing signed up for the 10 hour, 2-day exam required for the CFP®.  After studying more than 400 hours, I passed the exam.  Now it was time to figure out how to get a job.

Luckily for me, a local financial planner who I had met through the Financial Planning Association reached out to me to see how the test had gone.  It just so happened to be one of the advisors whom I respected the most as I networked over the years.  A meeting turned into an internship and ultimately me being hired into his firm, AO Wealth Advisory.  Adam has been so kind to allow me to do this while still teaching full-time and be the planner I want to be.  Very soon I will have the experience under my belt necessary to use the CFP® marks behind my name.

The Work

Now I am growing my client base, working primarily with teachers helping them along their financial journey.  As I take them through the financial planning process I find my experience teaching high school students helps when I explain financial concepts.  My time as an educator has made me good at describing things without the confusing financial jargon that so many times gets in the way of understanding.  I've enjoyed seeing my clients’ lives change in the time they have worked with me.  I’m having a blast helping people in this important part of their lives.


If you feel I can be of help on your financial journey, let's have a conversation.

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