Ashley Parks ’98 grew interested in financial planning at an early age. When other kids were playing with Speak & Spell games, she was playing with Speak & Math. And in Monopoly, Parks eagerly requested “the banker” role. By age 13, she began babysitting and loved earning her own money.
As a first-generation student at Texas A&M University, Parks utilized her passion for math and finance to navigate college expenses. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and continued her education at Southern Methodist University for her graduate certificate in financial planning. Soon after, she became a financial advisor at Martin Financial Group, receiving her Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation in 2005.
Parks knows that families can’t plan for everything life throws their way, so her desire is to help them make educated financial decisions to reach their goals. In 2011, she published her book, “The Saving Seed: Growing a Financially Healthy Family Tree,” to help families understand how money fits into their lives and how to model healthy financial behaviors for their children. Read below as she shares how you can do this in your own life.
Why do you teach financial responsibility?
I’ve seen firsthand how quickly financial markets can change and things outside of your control can impact your financial life. My goal is to show people the areas within their control, like deciding how to spend their money. Knowing the importance of being financially sound in retirement is also crucial to prompt younger generations to start saving early because it can make all the difference in achieving financial goals. Paying off debt early can save so much interest, and that money can be used for college costs, retirement, a car or any other life goals.
My mission as a CFP is to make a difference in this current generation and future generations so people can feel empowered to confidently navigate their financial journeys with the education and tools they need to succeed. As parents and grandparents, we are shaping our children’s base experiences with money, and we can make positive changes to follow a solid financial path and teach our children how to do it themselves. If one person learns something and teaches it to another, the ripple effect could impact so many others, and that’s what motivates me.
What is your favorite financial advice?
Start early and don’t be afraid; the earlier you start, the healthier your habits will become.
I advise families to find supporters and to seek advice from trusted sources when unsure of something. I believe younger generations need to understand that their parents’ lifestyle is not guaranteed for them. Even though they may be accustomed to expensive dinners, designer clothes and vacations, they must live within their means and what their current salary and financial situation allows. Save for a rainy day, invest for retirement with your first job, pay off debt early and don’t get in over your head with obligations.
How are you financially responsible in your own life?
During college, I knew I’d receive a great education, but I would be financially reliant on myself. I learned how to stay within my budget to avoid debt, and I knew to separate wants from needs, covering needs first. That meant sometimes saying no to things I wanted, but my goals were more important.
Currently, I’m teaching my daughter how to be financially responsible. We started early with simple counting and growing her confidence in math. We incorporated an allowance when she was 6 years old, set up a savings account for her and taught her what interest is. Now, at 13 years old, she has an allowance that pays for her “wants,” and she’s learned how to responsibly manage money. Like me at her age, she is working part-time jobs to earn money, so we set up a Roth IRA for her to learn about the benefits of investing early.
Tell us about your book.
I wrote “The Saving Seed” so families could have an easy-to-understand resource to begin their financial journeys. Financial planning isn’t always exciting, so I presented the book’s content in a fun way for people to learn basic savings tools. My daughter imitated me when she was a toddler, and I realized how early these behaviors start. If we expect adults to balance budgets and be financially healthy, we need to start by teaching our own children, because many financial basics are no longer taught in school. It’s so fulfilling to witness parents get on the same financial page and then be excited to teach their kids what they’ve learned, making positive changes in their lives and their children’s. Finances can be challenging for a family, so it was important to me to write this book to give families hope and a good roadmap to accomplish their financial dreams.
Ashley Parks, CFP®
Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative, Securian Financial Services, Inc., Securities Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. A Registered Investment Advisor. Martin Financial Group is independently owned and operated. 3030 LBJ Freeway, Suite 1450, Dallas, TX 75234. Learn more here. 3695249 DOFU 08/2021
Disclaimer: This article is intended to share general information on topics related to financial planning and should only be used or referenced as a source for general advice. Visitors/readers should seek advice from a professional representative to better understand the best plan for their individual needs.
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