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Bobby Clark: Childhood Shoeshine Business Leads to Financial Coaching Career

by Team Sammy


Team Sammy is pleased to share Bobby Clark’s childhood money memories and insights on kids, money and financial literacy education.

Bobby Clark is a native of Panama City, Florida. He is an alumnus of the county’s first high school, Bay County High. He earned a degree in Applied Psychology from Florida State University.

After, 38 years of work for a mid-size chemical company, Bobby decided to start a second career in financial services. He started by earning a CFP® Certification and founding Clark on Money Coaching Services. The firm specializes in helping married men who feel stuck financially find simple solutions to their frustrations by providing solid guidance toward goal achievement.

Bobby is an enthusiastic volunteer. He gives his time to three organizations. He's an IRS certified income tax preparer for a local non-profit. He is a lecturer for a day at Savannah State University. And, Bobby is a meeting organizer for Band of Brothers, a Christian men’s non-profit ministry dedicated to strengthening and guiding men in their faith.

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Leslie Girone: Tell us about your family and community while you were growing up.

Bobby Clark: I grew up in a small town on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. It was always fun, exciting and an extra treat to go to the beach for my sister and me. We never got the chance to go as often as we would have liked.

Dad was a small business entrepreneur. Mom was an elementary educator. They both enjoyed helping families and individuals improve the quality of their life. Inherently, I employ coaching with compassion and financial literacy as methods to help clients transform their life to achieve maximum growth and success.


Leslie : What is one of your first money memories?

Bobby: My grandfather provided the shoeshine service to the most prominent barbershop in our small town. His clients included business owners and professional men. For my sixth or seventh birthday, he bought me a red shoeshine kit. I was very thrilled and excited to have my shoeshine kit. I could hardly wait to get busy shining shoes. The little red metal kit had a raised platform to position your shoe and a compartment below for the polishes, brushes and shinning cloths. It had everything I needed to start my shoeshine business. It even had a shoulder strap attached for easy carrying. Granddaddy Otis said that I should charge my customers 10 cents for a shoeshine. My first customer was my Dad who paid me 20 cents for shining two pairs of his shoes. When I earned my first 20 cents I was so excited. After many decades I still own the little red shoeshine kit. It is a wonderful reminder for one of my first money memories.

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Leslie: What was your first formal job?

Bobby: I vividly remember working at a local car wash as a vacuum attendant. It was my first experience receiving a weekly paycheck. Every Friday at the close of business I received cash in a small brown envelope. I earned $6 per day for a full day’s work. I was thrilled because I never had that much money at one time before. Most of the money was used to purchase school clothes.


Leslie: What did your parents teach you about money/personal finance. What do you remember? What, if anything stuck?

Bobby: I learned valuable money lessons from my grandparents and parents. As an adolescent, my grandfather gave me 50 cents as a weekly allowance. His message to me was “save some for later” or “don’t spend it all in one day.” My parents always would say save or don’t spend all of your money. I remember them having multiple streams of income. Since those lessons, I have adopted the mottos: never spend all of your money and learn how to make money while you sleep.


Leslie: Who was your primary or one of your main money mentors as a child or teen?

Bobby: Both of my parents were my main mentors as a youth. My parent’s childhood taught them how to do a lot with little assets. As a result, they often talked about the importance of saving and they demonstrated how to save through life experiences.


Leslie: At what age and how did you come to realize money had a value?

Bobby: At age 16 I was taking a gym class. At the beginning of class, we were instructed to place our belongings in the lockers located in the back of the classroom. One day I had $10 with my items. I placed everything in an unsecured locker. At the end of class, I returned to get my items from the locker and I discovered that my $10 was missing. I learned a valuable lesson.


Leslie: Did you work as a teen and/or in college?

Bobby: As a teen, I worked on the beach at hotels as a luggage attendant. During college, I had a work-study job as an athletic trainer for the basketball team during college.


Leslie: What piqued your interest in personal finance?

Bobby: I experienced poverty up close while working one afternoon as the cashier in my Dad’s store. A gentleman came into the store and gathered some food items for his family. During his checkout, he said he didn’t have enough money to pay for all of the items. The man avoided eye contact and with a downward gaze asked Dad if he could pay the amount he currently had in his pocket and pay the balance in a few days. Watching this unfold before me, I felt empathy for the customer and his family. This unpleasant experience taught me the importance of personal finance. If you do not learn how to manage your finances you will not be able to purchase the necessities of life. When I compare this story to current times, I see people experiencing the same financial hardships. They purchase necessities with credit cards and fail to pay the balance in full at the due date. In reality, they are borrowing money to survive.

Have you and your children made a habit of saving and investing?


Leslie: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?

Bobby: I would teach a child the habit of delaying financial gratification.  Instant gratification leads to impulse buying and the development of poor money behaviors. I think you will agree that any habit good or bad is difficult to change. Mastering delayed gratification skills will lead to greater financial responsibility and prosperity in the future


Leslie: Is it important to teach kids about money? Why? At what age should parents start?

Bobby: We should teach kids about money because money has an important impact on the life lessons and values that parents feel obligated to teach their children. I would suggest parents introduce financial literacy at the same time that initial values are taught. When kids do not get the right balance of values and basic financial literacy in their formative years, it may result in lifelong struggles. Often I hear people say that they have a money problem only to discover that money is not the root of the problem. Money is where the problem is manifested. A child’s money mindset starts long before the parent realizes.


Financial pet peeve: Buying on impulse
Favorite personal finance book: The Richest Man in Babylon
Favorite personal finance quote: Control Thy Expenditures – Don’t spend more than you make!


Discover more about Bobby at Clark on Money Coaching Services

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