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#OTGYpsi: Liberty Financial Services gets Ypsilanti residents on the right financial track with empathy and understanding

Liberty Financial Services founder Eboney Byrne.
Doug Coombe
Concentrate Media
Liberty Financial Services founder Eboney Byrne.


Concentrate Ann Arbor

Rylee Barnsdale's Feature Article: Empathy is the secret ingredient in this Ypsi woman's financial services business

Liberty Financial Services


Rylee Barnsdale: The holidays are just around the corner, and with the holidays comes spending. Whether it's on gifts for your loved ones, grocery shopping for the party you've planned for all year, or even just splurging on yourself, it isn't the easiest to keep track of your finances during this time of the year. But what if overspending isn't a seasonal issue but a year-round one? I'm Rylee Barnsdale, and today on WEMU's On the Ground Ypsi, we're taking a look at financial literacy and what Ypsi's community is doing to help folks understand not just the numbers but the emotional impact of money as well. My guest is certified financial educator and money coach Eboney Byrne, who founded her business, Liberty Financial Services, in order to help folks take control of their budget in some pretty unexpected ways. Hi, Ebony! How's it going?

Eboney Byrne: Oh, it's going great. Happy to be here.

Rylee Barnsdale: So, Liberty Financial has been around for about four years now. You got started up in 2019, but you've been giving financial advice from your own experience to friends and loved ones before that, too. Is that right?

Eboney Byrne: Absolutely. Since college really. So, yes.

Rylee Barnsdale: It's an important conversation to have through college right, when talking about money.

Eboney Byrne: It is.

Rylee Barnsdale: So, why get into the financial advising game professionally? Is it a fairly lucrative business, or is this really just a personal passion of yours?

Eboney Byrne: A little bit of both. I think, for me, as I was going through a divorce, I was looking for some financial information that was affirming and to kind of help me recenter things in that new chapter of my life. And I wasn't finding a lot of positive information out there for women going through divorce for people in general, really, right? And so, I decided to be the change I was hoping to see and provide a more positive outlook for people that are rebuilding their lives. And it's just sort of spun out from there to working with women and also working with groups and organizations and children. So, it's just so much of it is needed and it's just been a great opportunity to just help people improve their lives wherever they are.

Rylee Barnsdale: And you mentioned in your own research, trying to find information that would work for you and your situation. You know, you probably saw how varied and broad the financial coaching space can be. What did you kind of take away from the folks that had information that worked for you versus the folks that didn't have information that work for you? And what did you want to do differently starting your own business, doing the same thing?

Eboney Byrne: Oh, that's a great question. You know, what I was finding was a lot of shame-based language in the personal finance world, especially aimed at women, unfortunately. And a lot of it was just that old adage of your life sucks because you get your hair done or because you get lattes, right? We've all heard that. And lattes are not what's breaking your budget. So, let's start there. And so, I wanted to change that mindset. But I also found that there was not enough information out there in support for people, for the emotional aspects of money. So much of our money is tied to our emotions, and that colors more of how we spend our money than the actual money that we make, right? So, the process is much more closely tied to our feelings and our emotions than it is to the math of it all. We all can add and subtract, and we know we're spending too much or why we aren't. But the real work comes into digging into why we do these things, what are our money stories, and what's keeping us stuck in those ways. And so, that's what I focus on with my clients is getting to the root of it emotionally, so then we can put those time-tested strategies of spending less than you earn to into play.

Rylee Barnsdale: This is 89 one WEMU's On the Ground Ypsi. I'm Rylee Barnsdale. And I'm sitting with Eboney Byrne, owner of Liberty Financial Services. So. Eboney, you talked a little bit about the kinds of things that you cover with your clients. If I am your client and we are sitting down for our first meeting, what are some of the things that you want to know from me? You know, what does a typical money coaching session look like?

Eboney Byrne: Ooh! So, the first initial sessions, strangely enough, or I should say surprisingly enough, we don't really talk about the numbers yet. In my first sessions with my clients, we talk about their goals. We talk about the emotional impact that your life has had on you and what has happened with your family, what you see people do around you. So that way, when I am coaching you, I know how to coach you when things get tough. We have to have those tough conversations or how to celebrate you. So, in that first session, that's generally what we do. We're getting into a little bit more of the personal parts that people skip over. And then, we can get to the numbers later on in subsequent session of this is how much you earn. This is what you want to do. This is how we can make that work for you. So, those are how those sessions are broken down. But I think people are usually shocked to find that, in the initial sessions, we're not talking about money in the traditional sense at all.

Rylee Barnsdale: Yeah, I think when we're talking about money coaching, one of the first things you want to see is you want to see all the receipts. You want to know what kind of budget you are working with right now. I think that's really interesting how you focus on the emotional aspect of money, because maybe that's not something that really comes to mind when we're thinking about money all the time.

Eboney Byrne: Nope. Most people don't. I think, though, people are quick to say I'm just not good with money. And they don't stop to think, "Okay, well, how did my parents spend money? Did anyone ever talk to me about money? Does money make me scared? Am I angry? Am I frustrated?" All of those things will impact how you spend. If you are an emotional spender, when life gets tough, you're going to spend every dime you have because you want to feel better. Or if you're scared, you're going to lose all of your money, then you will never spend any money. And you will be miserable because you have all this money, but you won't allow yourself to spend it. So, we need to get to the roots of those things, so that you can enjoy money. It's just a tool, and I want to make sure people know how to use it effectively.

Rylee Barnsdale: And you mentioned how Liberty Financial started out as a way to aid recently divorced women, get a handle on their budget, maybe consolidate debt, those kinds of things. But since then, and you mentioned this as well, you've expanded your client base. You're working with single folks. You're working with gentlemen. You're working with children as well, businesses. What are you helping these varied populations with? What are some maybe common issues that you've seen? What are some uncommon ones? Can you expand on that a little bit?

Eboney Byrne: Sure. The common thing for most adults is people want to know how to save more and how to pay down debt. Everyone, for the most part, has a lot of debt, so people want to learn how they can maximize their income, so that they can make better spending decisions. So, figuring out where their money is going and then creating a plan that is aligned with their goals to help them get there. And, sometimes, you have to make more money. Sometimes, you do need to cut back on the things that you're doing that aren't serving you well. So, that's what I'm doing with adults. For kids, it's a little bit more fun because they don't have the heaviness of life yet. So, it's just teaching them what a budget is, the importance of spending and saving. And, you know, the value of saving money or do you want to spend it all on your toys? That's great. But this is what that looks like if you did the opposite. So, giving them those foundational tools is a lot of fun. And then, working with businesses, it's really helping those organizations give their employees the tools that they need to be more well-rounded and less stressed out about their money and then helping connect them with their company's resources, so that they can continue to have a full wellness experience with their money and their work. So, it really is varied. And it just depends on what that client needs or what the organization is looking to provide for their employees or for the kids that attend their programs. So, it really gets to be pretty exciting in different ways for the different groups. It just depends on what people are looking for.

Rylee Barnsdale: This is WEMU's On the Ground Ypsi. I'm chatting with Ypsi-based money coach Eboney Byrne, founder of Liberty Financial Services. Liberty Financial is offered online through your website, Liberty Financial LLC dot com. Anyone in the country could find you and become a client. But what are some ways that you've connected your business to the community here in Ypsi, Eboney?

Eboney Byrne: Yeah. So, I've had a great opportunity to partner with local organizations. I've been doing some workshops with the Ypsi District Library, so we have another one coming up in March. I've also done a lot of good work with Our Community Read, which is a youth-based, literacy organization here in Ypsi, and that's been pretty great, working with other schools to help provide financial literacy to students as well. And I've also partnered with a local firm here and working with them to help their interns learn how to manage their money as they are returning to the community. So, it's been really great working with the local organizations, and, again, each group needs something different. So, it's been a great opportunity to just teach people where they are and give them the tools that they need.

Rylee Barnsdale: Is there a future where Liberty Financial maybe has its own office space or building here in Ypsi, or are you like in the online kind of approach to things?

Eboney Byrne: That's a great question. You know, I think, eventually, that could be something that's important, but I think I like being more agile. I like being able to meet people where they are, as opposed to being fixed to one location. I am local, so I do a lot of things locally, but I like being able to say, "Hey, I want to come in and work with your organization or meet at their space." But I do love that office studio. That's where I host a lot of events. If I'm going to do something in-person, I typically do it there. It's a great environment, and I have space there, so it's kind of fun.

Rylee Barnsdale: Well, I know I'm definitely thinking about my money habits a little bit differently. I hope that there may be some folks out there listening who are doing the same. And I want to thank you. Eboney. Thank you so much for being here with me to chat a little bit about money stuff--not always the easiest thing to talk about--and about your business.

Eboney Byrne: Thank you so much for having me. It's been a great time.

Rylee Barnsdale: For more information on today's topic and links to the full article, visit our web site at WEMU dot org. On the Ground Ypsi is brought to you in partnership with Concentrate Media. I'm Rylee Barnsdale, and this is your community NPR station, 89 one WEMU FM Ypsilanti.

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Concentrate Media's Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.
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