Nicole K. Martin is a financial literacy and education coach, Certified Financial Education Instructor, trained auditor and accountant. She operates her various enterprises under the banner “Martin and Fortuin.”
Nicole took a keen interest in money and its benefits at an early age. She attended a high school for commerce students. She studied and worked as an accountant. Then, Nicole launched a business teaching personal finance skills to children and adults. Through her work in financial literacy and the financial services profession, she has seen many people suffer in their lives due to financial problems. Conversely, she has also witnessed many people who have never struggled in their lives because they understand finances. These experiences have helped to fuel her fire for financial education.
Nicole is originally from Cape Town, South Africa. She moved to Coffs Harbour, Australia with her husband in 2008. She is the mother of an 11 year old son and 9 year old daughter. She reads for a hobby with a strong interest in personal finance improvement and human psychology.
Team Sammy: Share with us a little bit about growing up – your family and community.
Nicole: I grew up in the multi-cultural city of Cape Town. My mother worked in a bank as Head of Foreign Exchange. My father co-owned a printing business. I was an independent child and loved visiting libraries, museums, markets and festivals. My community experiences were of people who were oppressed, yet hopeful, diverse, and united.
INKLINGS OF FINANCIAL COACH AT AN EARLY AGE
Team Sammy: Share with us your first money memories.
Nicole: My parents opened a savings account for me when I was 10 years old and gave me my own ATM card. I could use it to deposit and withdraw money! It was a real financial literacy education for me. It gave me the confidence to speak to bank staff and feel comfortable performing money transactions.
SAVING FOR MAGAZINES
Team Sammy: What was your first saving experience?
Nicole: I saved my weekly pocket-money. It was about $1. I would save to buy magazines which cost about $4 each. I loved stopping in at the newsagent’s on my way home from school. I would browse the book aisles and plan which books I would buy when I had saved enough money.
WORKING AT THE MALL
Team Sammy: What was your first job?
Nicole: I was 16 years old when I had my first job. I was a retail floor-assistant at a chain-clothing store. I worked on weekends only, all day and earned good money. I only lasted 6 months. I didn’t enjoy spending my weekends in a mall! I was paid in cash which I discovered did not motivate me to save. I mostly spent the money I earned on snacks, books, clothes and CDs.
MIXED MONEY SIGNALS
Team Sammy: If your parents talked to you and taught you about money/personal finance, what do you remember? What, if anything stuck?
Nicole: I received mixed messages about money from family, friends, teachers and my community. A couple of expressions I still remember being used were ‘filthy rich’ and ‘miserly rich’. Other times I would hear messages like accumulating wealth gave you life stability, security and the ability to afford to be more generous helping family and friends. Ultimately, I had to make a choice on which messages I would adopt and incorporate into my financial thinking. I chose to adopt the messages on accumulating wealth specifically with a plan to fulfill my goals of being independent, secure and generous.
MATERNAL FINANCIAL COACH
Team Sammy: Who was your primary or one of your main money mentors as a child or teen?
Nicole: My parents divorced when I was a child. A few years later, my mother left work at the bank to start her own business. She sold it and partnered in another business all the while accumulating assets. She still is a good money mentor, financial coach and role model.
Living in a home where money was spoken about and used in a positive manner helped to forge my thinking of money as a necessary and useful life tool.
MONEY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE
Team Sammy: At what age and how did you come to realize money had value?
Nicole: I was 9 years old when I realized that the use of money was a significant factor in our personal lives. I had a friend whose parents separated and I saw how stressful it was for each parent to afford separate homes, cars and jobs. Another friend’s parents who separated seemed to transition into their separate lives easier because they had savings or investments to help them through their difficult time.
A JOB I LOVED
Team Sammy: Did you work as a teen and/or in college?
Nicole: I worked briefly as a teenager in a retail store. Then I worked part-time for three years while in college in the IT Department of a large retail chain Head Office. It was the best job ever for me. I discovered I enjoyed working with technical data in an office environment.
SAVE UP FOR SOMETHING YOU REALLY WANT
Team Sammy: What was one mistake or regret you made as a kid, teen or college student with money? And, what was one smart money choice you made?
Nicole: One mistake was not setting myself a goal to save for anything in particular. So, even though I always had money, I spent it sporadically on small low-quality items. I never bought what I really wanted, which was at least one good-quality item.
One smart choice I made was to wait a week or two before I bought something and spend that time looking around for a better deal.
THE REAL PROBLEM
Team Sammy: What piqued your interest in personal finance and being a financial coach and educator?
Nicole: Observing family, friends and people in my community grapple with money problems and worries made me think deeply about how I would like to experience money. I decided I wanted to feel accomplished, secure, safe, confident, calm, relaxed, satisfied, happy, generous and capable of anything. I realized that even people who were happy doing their jobs or were paid well in their jobs could still struggle with their personal finances, which would eventually negatively impact their personal relationships and job performance. So I decided the best approach would be to address the root of all personal money problems, which is the person.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY
Team Sammy: One question, I ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Nicole: Always ask yourself the questions: “How much money I have saved so far and how much money do I owe so far?” Why? The reason is asking yourself these questions forces you to provide an answer and hold yourself accountable. You may feel inspired to find out the true answer or you may feel you don’t care to know the answer. Either way, you can never say no one asked you the question or you didn’t know it was an important wealth-building strategy.
FIRST STEPS TO FINANCIAL LITERACY
Team Sammy: Is it important to teach kids about money? Why? At what age should parents start?
Nicole: Parents should start teaching kids about money as soon as the child asks the parent to buy something for them. This is the child’s first step into the foray of economics and they can begin to be taught about demand/supply and the flow of money.
FINANCIAL HOME SCHOOLING
Team Sammy: Should personal finance be taught in schools?
Nicole: No, personal finance should be taught in homes. Home is the foundation of personal beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Children are most influenced in their home environments.
THOUGHTS FROM NICOLE ON A FEW PERSONAL FINANCE TOPICS
Nicole: Student debt is neither good nor bad. It is a very useful financial tool when used correctly. And, it is just like a knife if you are not taught how to use it to your benefit. When used improperly it is likely to result in a life-changing disadvantage.
FINANCIAL PET PEEVES
Nicole: Instant gratification. Buying things on the basis of how you think it will make you feel right now, without having first spent at least a week thinking about how the purchase fits into your existing financial plan.
Favorite book on personal finance or money management. Does one lesson stand out?
Nicole: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Money is not just an objective tool but rather a subjective tool.
Nicole: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Favorite magazines, websites, resources
Nicole: Moneysmart (Australia Gov.); Better Money Habits (Bank of America); Centsai; Ducksters; Money; Money And Life (Australia); NerdWallet; RichDad; NapkinFinance.
Nicole: My mother.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM FINANCIAL COACH NICOLE K. MARTIN
Team Sammy: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Nicole: Don’t wait to be rich before you start donating, saving and investing your money. Set up a weekly system where you save the smallest amount which you feel you can afford to donate, save and invest. During this time you will feel more generous and richer because you are already doing what rich people should be doing! After a few years you may feel that you’d like to add a bit more to each of these categories.
Money is an important tool to use for your enjoyment and for the enjoyment of others during your lifetime but you should be careful not to make it the only focus of your thoughts. Always keep in mind money is made to serve people and people are not made to serve money.
LEARN MORE ABOUT NICOLE
To discover more about financial literacy and education coach and instructor Nicole T. Martin visit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-k-martin-7b17b3117/