How Money Can Become a Source of Energy, Not Exhaustion
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley is a money coach who promotes financial bliss. She founded The Fiscal Femme to share her journey learning about personal finance, after taking bad investment advice from a colleague and deciding never again to be careless with her money.
Now, The Fiscal Femme is a thriving business that offers money coaching, courses, and corporate trainings.
Read on if you want Ashley's advice on:
1 - Building a business while writing a book
2 - Diversifying your revenue streams as a service provider
3 - Managing your money in a way that feels emotionally aligned
Stephanie: What’s the story behind Fiscal Femme?
Ashley: I started Fiscal Femme because I needed it myself. I was a finance major in college and then a finance professional in investment banking and corporate finance, and even a CFO. But I knew nothing about my own money. When I left banking, I made mistakes probably in every single area of my finances. I spent my whole bonus and lost thousands of dollars by taking an over-confident coworker’s investing advice. I got a store credit card and couldn’t figure out how to pay it, because physically, they make it really difficult to actually pay your bill. You can’t just do it automatically online. Because of that, my credit score was blemished for seven years.
From there on out, I decided, no more letting someone else dictate what’s going on with my money. I learned that I always wanted to understanding what was happening to it. When I started reading about personal finance, I found that a lot of the books were made unnecessarily daunting, boring, and written by old white men. It felt like I was being kept out of the club, as though the goal of these books was that I wouldn’t understand them.
So on my blog, I just started sharing what I was learning in a fun, accessible, fresh way that was need-to-know, without any of the jargon. At the time, it was just sharing. But in response, people started asking me for help. Another website asked me to write for them, and I thought it was needed. I used to think the need only came from people of my generation, but I found that no matter how much people are earning -- even millions! -- they're still struggling with the same money issues as everyone else. No one is immune.
Part one is that we’re not educated about our finances. But once we are, we still don’t actually do the things we think we should. So the emotional behavior side is very important, and that’s why I trained as a coach and started seeing clients one-on-one. Through the trends I observed, I created the 30-Day Money Cleanse, a course that launches three times a year. Now it’s also turning into a book.
Let's talk about the book. How did you parlay your course into a book deal, and what was the process like putting it together
The process was really fun. I texted a few friends, ‘Do you know agents?’ A couple of them did. I met a few people, had some good conversations, and then an agent I clicked with got interest in a women’s finance book. My agent is Leigh Eisenman at HSG Agency, and she’s amazing. She basically talked about creating the book The 30-Day Money Cleanse, which I never even thought of. It’d be too easy right? Writing the proposal felt very daunting, because I was also running my business. But she held my hand through the process. We sent the proposal out to some publishers and got interest, so we were able to create an auction.
I’m learning every step of the way, I had no idea how any of this worked, and I’m learning every step of the way. We talked to the editors who were interested and chose Sourcebooks, because they really got what the book was about. My deadline for the manuscript was last November, but I was pregnant and my son Eli was due in August. I just didn't know what it would be like after he was born, so I wanted to get it done before. I would literally take full weekend days and block it off for writing until I was done. Some weekdays, too. I felt like if there was anything else on the calendar, it was harder for me to write. I needed a lot of space.
You have several revenue streams: the coaching, the course, the book. How do you balance them all, and in what order did you develop them?
Initially I had my blog, and then I got certified as a coach. The natural thing after that was to see one-on-one clients. I still do that and love it, because it's on the ground with people and I feel the direct impact. I also do it as research to see what people are struggling with, and what works and doesn’t work. But it’s labor-intensive. After I see two or three clients in one day, I’m tapped out.
From there, I created my course The 30-Day Money Cleanse, which became another revenue stream. I would run the course live, but I found that people weren’t joining the live sessions; they were just watching the recordings. So now there's still a live component with access to me, but it’s all on video. Having people watching at the same time adds this accountability element.
Then I found that it’s really fun to have another company pay me. When that happens, employees don’t have to pay, and they still get this awesome benefit. From just one sale, I get to impact all these people. I love the corporate work for that reason.
Eventually, the book will be a revenue source, too. So those are my four!
It’s great to have a lot of revenue streams, but part of me also realizes, ‘Okay, I also have to make sure to be giving each one the time and focus that it needs.’ What makes it easier for me is that all of these services are kind of the same. If an individual wants to have a call with me to see how we can work together, I can direct them to the Money Cleanse or one-on-one coaching. It’s often the same individuals then bringing me into companies or recommending my services to their women’s group at work. I can bring in revenue through all of my revenue streams by just being me and living, as long as I’m out there focusing on my mission.
Lately I’ve been working to let go of my hustle marketing. I do speak when it’s a great fit, and I also do paid speaking at conferences. But now I’m being very selective. I think about what I have to be doing: the creation of the content, speaking, interviews, but none of the digital operations. I’m a money person. So I always ask: How can I spend more my time exercising my core gifts, which I love and which energize me?
Right now my team is getting the digital side down. Building an email list can happen without me running around, and it allows the message to spread to more people. My team member Kristen is really passionate about this, which is great as Fiscal Femme grows and scales. We’re aiming for more impact and less work.