We had the esteemed pleasure of sitting down with the astounding Marsha Barnes the founder of The Finance Bar. Here she shares her story on how and why she converted a bus into a beautiful mobile business that educates and inspires…
Q: Please introduce yourself to our audience. Where are you located? Hello my name is Marsha Barnes and I am the Founder of The Finance Bar. My tiny mobile hub along with my tiny family reside in Charlotte, NC. 🙂
Q: What inspired you to build The Finance Bar? Lack of representation around the importance of personal finance inspired me the most. Throughout the year (every year).. we hear the numbers around unemployment rates, how many households carry “x” amount of debt, and on a daily basis how stocks are performing. However, rarely do you hear or see the support that our community needs around how to solve daily changes around “unique” situations. Data and numbers don’t solve problems they report information. The Finance Bar was birthed to fill in the gaps in hopes of meeting people where they are on their finance journey (literally).
Q: Is there anything from your youth growing up/family experience that may have also played a role in your decision to build The Finance Bar? Not necessarily from youth. My parents experienced layoffs within months of one another, their journey was a huge eye opener for Me. While it didn’t appear to be an emergency for them it was definitely a case of “be prepared, get prepared, always plan for the unexpected.”
Q: What concerns, if any, did you have in/with your decision to use a bus as The Finance Bar? The Finance Bar (mobile hub), was a new concept; therefore I didn’t have a blueprint of how the process would flow nor how the model would look. The journey of learning has been a joyous ride.
Q: Who designed The Finance Bar and how did you determine the design? The designer of The Finance Bar was Quintel Gwinn of Quin Gwinn Interior Architecture + Design.
Q: How long did it take to begin to build once you’d made the decision to use a bus? One (1) month.
Q: How long did the entire project take? The entire process took less than 10 months.
Q: What, if any, challenges did you run into? In your opinion were there any challenges experienced that can be attributed to being a person of color? In the beginning stages there were mechanical expenses that I didn’t expect; however, no challenges aside from that.
Q: Has using this mobile/smaller space been a big adjustment? What did you learn from doing this? What would you advise those who are thinking of downsizing their life whether personal or in business? I love smaller spaces; therefore, the mobile concept has taught me more of what i’ve always known-which is “small doesn’t mean less, and big doesn’t mean more.” There are moments when it appears that we move in the direction of “what’s next”or “what’s the best new thing,” instead of pausing to identify with what really brings us joy. In business or our personal lives it’s important to remember that we are dancing to the beat of our own drum for some that could mean downsizing for others it means a larger space. Totally depends on preference.
Q: What do you love most about your Finance Bar and the work you do? There are many people who feel they don’t have the ability to dream out loud. What I mean by this is—never being able to see beyond their current situation. Many are still living paycheck to paycheck, some remain in the state of barely being able to pay their bills, and then there are those that would LOVE to live life traveling more, spending more time with their families, or even building a business. To experience that level of growth with the people that I work with is priceless. I didn’t begin The Finance Bar to quit nor to finish what I started I grew this business to change LIVES.
Q: How often does The Finance Bar travel? How far (local, international)? Locally with the mobile hub, internationally for speaking engagements or workshops.
Q: So much of society focuses on having more, and making more to have more. People of color are often focused on having more when they begin to make more, because they haven’t had, somewhat like the Jefferson’s’ “moving on up” lifestyle. What is the impact of using a minimalistic space like a mobile bus to teach people about money management?
What advice can you give people of color when it comes to the management of their finance and investments?
I don’t actually believe that people of color are the only race making more money for the purpose of having more “things.” It’s an epidemic across many cultures. There’s zero harm in having more if that’s how you want to spend your money. The challenge is having more when you really don’t have what you need. There’s a difference.
Q: Do you plan to use your mobile Finance Bar as long term or is it a temporary solution for a bigger plan? Long term; however, we just expanded (stay tuned). 🙂
Q: Where do you see the The Finance Bar going? What can The Finance Bar teach people of color? I see The Finance Bar as a safe space to meet people where they are on their financial journey (we enjoy seeing the growth). For people of color my message would be to: “Avoid the statistics. There are tons of resources that allow us to learn about money and personal finance.” Grow now, change your mindset today.
Q: Do you have any additional comments, maybe advice for those considering a minimalist lifestyle, wanting to have a tiny home, a tiny workspace, and the dreamers? Focus on your dream life. What does that look like? Once you have the answer to that question how you navigate makes this a lot easier. Zoom in on the end goal.