COURTESY KATHY ENTWISTLE

As a Forbes top money advisor, Ridgewood mom Kathy Entwistle has been helping families make smart money decisions for years. Now she’s sharing her knowledge in a box, literally. The Money Date Box (themoneydatebox.com and @themoneydatebox on Instagram) walks people through eight weeks of “money dates,” self-guided exercises to educate, set priorities and build a road map to financial wellness for couples, singles and teens. We asked her how it all came together.

New Jersey Family: Your financial expertise was honed as a volunteer in your hometown when your kids were growing up. What did you do and how did that eventually lead to your role as a Forbes Top Financial Advisor?

Kathy Entwistle: As a stay-at-home mom with a background in finance, I realized most people don’t understand financial topics and are not comfortable with their money. I went to the local YWCA and asked if I could volunteer to teach a course called Women and Investing.  We had a tremendous turnout and great feedback. I provided education. I was not selling anything. Many of the women asked if I could review their portfolios and manage their money. This made me think that there was a need for a female financial advisor who could speak about financial topics in a way that was easy to understand. I became a financial advisor when my youngest was going to first grade and have since built up a successful business with wonderful clients and have been named numerous times as a Forbes Top Financial Advisor.

THE MONEY DATE BOX

NJF: How did your work as a financial advisor inspire the idea to start the Money Date Box?

KE: In the last five years or so I have spoken to many young people in their 20s, 30s and even 40s who just don’t know where to start when it comes to their money.  They haven’t had formal education on this topic in school, they haven’t been taught about smart financial steps to secure their future and they don’t know where they can get guidance that is objective. They are concerned they don’t have enough money or will ask silly questions.  This made me think, what if I take all of my years of experience and create financial education for them in a relatively easy way to access?

NJF: What was the process like to go from idea to product launch? 

KE: Once the idea came to me, creating it was not as complicated as it could have been. I am literally pulling together all of the financial education I provide to my class or my clients and sharing it in a box, delivered to your doorstep so that you can learn on your own time and at your own pace. The first thing I want to do is inspire others to have vulnerable, authentic conversations about money. Then I want them to act on the pain points they discover during those conversations.  his means getting organized, planning money dates to address these topics and working through some exercises to set your financial foundation.

NJF: What was the biggest challenge in launching the Money Date Box?

 KE: The biggest challenge to launching a new company in a pandemic were things I never even thought of like supply chain shortages such as paper. Although I had been developing the brand prior to the pandemic, nothing could have prepared me for the nuances of navigating a business during an unprecedented time. In a way, this challenge was transmuted into a strength of mine, as I got a glimpse into what some of my clients were experiencing

THE MONEY DATE BOX

NJF: How do you use the Money Date Box?

 KE: The Money Date Box is a conversational card game to inspire authentic discussions about money and to drive positive change. Through questions that examine your relationship with money, you will uncover your own money story and access tools and resources to support you on your journey to attain financial confidence and wealth. The Money Date Box is my solution to provide financial education and confidence to everyone. Whether you want to start a discussion with your friends, with your significant other, with your children or as an individual, the cards stand alone as a great way to spark meaningful conversations. For those that want to take it a step further, The Box contents include not only the conversation cards, but also instructions to secure your financial future in 8 weeks and access to an online audio course and worksheets.  We also have a companion workbook/planner to help guide you through the steps further. The Money Date Box is providing you with all of the tools you need to strengthen your financial knowledge, confidence and comfort level.

NJF: What goes into making a successful money date and how often should you have them?

KE: Money dates are most successful when you do them on a regular basis.  The Money Date Box encourages you to put time on your calendar where you can focus and not be distracted. The conversation cards and accompanying instructions are designed to be completed over 8 sessions. The important piece is to set the intention and the habit to meet and talk about financial topics. What I love about The Money Date Box and what makes it different is the questions and topics dig into not only the financial aspects of your goals and priorities but it also addresses the emotional side and gives you the opportunity to look at your money from a vulnerable place and consider your feelings and your experience with money.

NJF: You have boxes for women, for couples and a new one that just came out for teens. How does each box differ?

 KE: Each box provides slightly different information or wording to address the most pressing needs of the target audience regarding their goals and values and how they can best move forward.

 NJF: What is your number one tip for parents who manage the spending for their households along with saving for their children’s future (such as a college fund)?

 KE: My number one tip is to set up good habits and processes now that will reward you in your future. The biggest issue we have is uncertainty.  When we are uncertain about something, we carry a lot of fear—fear of the unknown. By putting certainty into your financial picture—through creating these habits and processes, you will be in a much better position to make good financial decisions.

NJF: What do you consider to be the biggest money waster/bad money habit that we should all stop doing?

 KE: The biggest money waster/bad habit that we should all stop doing is carrying credit card debt. Credit card debt means we are committing our future earnings today at a very high cost. We are paying the credit card companies significant interest on the money we borrow from them and it takes a very long time to pay off that debt when we carry it with high-interest rate charges.

 NJF: Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions? If so, what’s one resolution we should all be making?

KE: I believe in New Year’s resolutions as a collective reminder that we can and do shift. I am a big believer, however, that we can make a resolution any day of the year. We just need to be ready and commit to it.  There is no time like the present! The resolution we should all be making: To become financially confident! We are not taught the basics in school and our kids are not learning the basics either. One way is to purchase The Money Date Box. Another way is to take a course or read a book on the topic.

FROM LEFT: KATHY (TOP RIGHT AND THEN CLOCKWISE:) DAUGHTER SARAH, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW BETTA, DAUGHTER EMILY, SON KEVIN AND HUSBAND TIM IN SPRING LAKE (PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHY ENTWISTLE)

NJF: You live in Ridgewood with your family. What are your favorite things to do in town and in NJ?

KE: We have lived in Ridgewood for over 30 years and love it here! There are so many great restaurants depending on what you are in the mood for— S Egidio, Steel Wheel Tavern, Cafe 37, Felina and my favorite shoe shop, Gardiners—Jane the owner is the best! We love to eat and shop in Ridgewood.  We also love the library—it’s a great community resource. Our other favorite place in New Jersey is Spring Lake. The ocean, the boardwalk, the town center, the lake and St. Catherine’s.

NJF: What is your biggest piece of advice for someone who has an idea and wants to start a business or side hustle?

KE: My biggest piece of advice is to start. We tend to wait until our product, service or business idea is perfect until we start. The reality is it is better to begin and start somewhere and then let it evolve.