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Find Your Financial Freedom with Michelle McKinnon

By: , SparkPeople Health & Fitness Writer

Inspirational women are all around us, teaching, motivating and leading others by example through the way they live their lives. The Spark Your Life Series connects you to thought-provoking female leaders whose stories can help you achieve life balance, a health and fitness goal or a better state of mind.

This month, we spoke with Michelle McKinnon, a wealth advisor and the host of financial shows for women. Click here for your own 10-step financial to-do list.

About Michelle

Michelle McKinnon, CFP, is a senior wealth advisor for Payne Capital Management. She is the founder and host of the $mart Women podcast, which focuses on helping women manage their finances with ease. She also co-hosts the weekly No Payne No Gain financial radio show and the weekly video blog, Money in Minutes. Michelle utilizes innovative financial planning strategies to continually serve her clients and enhance their portfolios so they can be one step ahead of the financial services industry. Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Michelle graduated from New York University with a bachelor of arts degree. She is also a member of the New York Junior League, an organization of women that focuses on volunteering within the New York City community.

What made you take an interest in women's finances?
Through the years of being an advisor and working with both men and women, I found that I enjoyed working with women because not only were they better clients (ha!), but they really had an interest in learning what they were investing in and why. Normally, men only care about the annual return. It is so much more than that. Women tend to be better investors because they care more about the long term, which is a better philosophy when it comes to investing.

What top three mistakes do women make with their finances?
1. Not being aggressive enough with their investments.
2. Not asking enough questions of their advisor.
3. Beating themselves up for not knowing all the answers right away.

What are the three most important financial tools women should be using?
1. Time! Know that time is on your side, so be more aggressive with your investments.
2. Books/podcasts/online resources—which are great for learning about personal finance.
3. A trusted advisor. If you are just starting out, an advisor is probably not worth the cost, but if you have several hundred thousand in the bank, it's time to get serious with your investing and long-term planning. Do not think that long-term planning is only for retirement—you can plan for all sorts of (fun) taking that trip to China in four years or buying a house in six years—that is planning, too!

What would you say to someone who doesn't think they have enough money to invest?
First, make sure your emergency fund is funded—you need to have at least three to six months of living expenses saved in your savings/money market account, and THEN you can start investing. It can be as little as $1,000 invested in a low-cost, diversified mutual fund/ETF. I would suggest working with a company such as Vanguard or Fidelity.

What are the first steps someone could take toward financial independence?
First, pay off your student loans and credit card debt. I see so many young women these days that carry high credit card debt and school debt, which is understandable. Unfortunately, student and credit card loans often have high interest rates. And if you can't pay them off right away, at least try to refinance.

How did you get started with your podcasts and radio show?
One of our business colleagues had her own podcast and had a lot of success with it. So we thought, why not? Podcasts are the new way people receive information. I'm also an avid podcast listener myself, so I was excited for this new adventure.

Describe your $mart Women podcast and what you aim to achieve with your show.
The show is dedicated to bringing insight to women on personal finance and entrepreneurship, with a little fun to make it interesting! We bring on women that share their stories of how they've become successful.

What financial issue resonates the most with your listeners?
Running out of money, always.

From what areas of your work do you receive the most satisfaction?
Educating my clients on what we are investing in and why.

What's the best financial advice you've ever received?
Don't be so hard on yourself. The past few years, I've personally been very hard on myself the times I did not make my budget or savings goals for the month. We are all human and not perfect!

Get Your Action Plan

Find your own financial freedom with advice from Michelle McKinnon.

Click here for your 10-step financial to-do list.


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