No matter who you are or what you do, money is a part of your everyday life. It could be that you’re budget conscious, paying off student debt or weighing different investment options, or it may be that you struggle to make ends meet between pay cheques. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, or somewhere in between – we all think about money, and for a lot of us, it’s a huge source of stress.
Shannon Lee Simmons figured this out a number of years ago when she was working on Bay Street. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) and certified life coach with an enviable role in the financial services sector, Shannon’s career was flourishing – but she wasn’t satisfied. At the time, she was working with high net worth clients but realized that everyday people - those who needed financial services the most - often couldn’t afford to work with a qualified planner or meet the investment minimums for an advisor.
Inspired and certain there was a way to change this in the industry, Shannon quit her Bay Street job in 2010 and set out on a mission to offer accessible, real-life financial services that empowered her clients, regardless of their income or bank accounts. She started with a focus on young, professional women and families, but was soon seeing everyone from college students to retirees. In 2011, The New School of Finance was born. “We make financial advice unbiased, affordable and fun,” she explains. New School of Finance offers fee-only financial planning, tax prep and retirement planning – all with prices listed in a menu on the website.
The business grew, and Shannon soon became a contributor on CBC Metro Morning and had a column in the Globe and Mail. While working on the frontlines of financial planning with people from all walks of life, she realized that many of her more affluent clients were worrying about the exact same things as those who were struggling. “It didn’t matter if someone was making $30,000 or $130,000 - everyone worries about money,” Shannon asserts. “It really became clear to me about four years ago. The same words kept cropping up – ‘we can't get ahead, how are other people doing it? I feel like I'm spinning my wheels’. But, a lot of these people were not in bad shape financially - just worried and feeling guilty about where they spent money.” Her unique approach to financial services was to help people feel good and worry less in a non-judgmental environment – and it worked.
Eventually, it became clear that the real-life approach to money that she was so passionate about would make a great book. A concept was drawn up, a deal was signed, and a manuscript deadline was announced. Almost unbelievably, it was also the day her first child was due to be born.
“It makes me laugh out loud when I think about how ridiculous it was,” Shannon reveals. “The book and the baby were due on the same day! But, I have to say, having a due date for the baby kicked me into overdrive. There was literally a mega deadline. I was well-supported. My husband was such a champion, my family was so supportive and my team picked up all my slack at the office.” Worry-Free Money was completed on May 13 and baby Billy was born a week later.
Taking in Shannon’s heartfelt, rapid-fire advice, it’s clear that this is not your average financial book. David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber, agrees, calling it “a fresh way to think about your money”. Chapters include “Financial Lemonade”, “Beyonce Factor/Money Love” and “Yes, You Can Talk About Money”. It speaks specifically to singles, couples and parents in different sections and contains real world anecdotes that anyone can relate to. Better yet, it offers practical solutions that aim to minimize stress and maximize the enjoyment you get from your money. By digging deeper into the reasons we spend money, we can all learn how to live within our means without feeling restricted or frustrated. There’s no brow-beating or credit card shaming here – it’s practical, hopeful and more entertaining than it should be. Plus, it’s the only financial book I know that has horoscopes, Homer Simpson quotes and multiple ‘90s throwback references.
Like mom guilt, there is no room for financial stress in your life – and Shannon swears there doesn’t have to be. “There are so many things coming at us as parents - there's always something. This book gives realistic, non-judgemental advice for families that can actually help motivate and move them forward in their financial lives. It is possible to fall in the love with the family finances!”
Now a working mom, Shannon is learning to balance career and family – both important elements of her life. “My business, the book - all of that is a part of me that didn't just go away once I became a mom. Working on my business or on the book is a form of self-love and self-care for me. It's my hobby, my passion. I love having both in my life. But, the balancing act can be tricky, especially at 3am when there's a baby that won’t sleep.”
Well, we can all relate to that.
Worry-Free Money is in stores now, and we’re giving away a copy to one lucky Mabelhood reader! To enter, please comment below and let us know why you’d like to own a copy!
Contest closes January 14th, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. One entry per person, winner to be chosen by random draw. This contest is open internationally. By entering you are confirming that you are at least 13 years of age.