When it comes to finances in Black and Brown communities, it can be an uncomfortable conversation. From disclosing how much you make, to getting real about your spending habits—it's something we tend to shy away from. For wife, mother and The Finance Bar creator, Marsha Banes, she wanted to shift the narrative on how we view—and ultimately approach—money.

With more than 15 years in the finance industry, Barnes sought out to help her communities get free from having to hustle so much in order to devote more time to the people and things we love.

"As a Black woman, I value and understand how much we are closely connected to those we love. Unfortunately, due to financial strain, many of us aren't spending the time with those we love at the rate that we desire," Barnes explains. "We are often working one job and hustling to the next. The world needed The Finance Bar to drive us closer to financial balance."

To-date, the brand has served millions—literally—through the CEO's impactful digital and face-to-face offerings. From in-person seminars, her mobile financial education hub aka the bus, a podcast and finance challenges with her social media followers, Barnes is ensuring that we all learn total financial wellness. But, that hasn't always been easy.

The Finance Bar's CEO, Marsha Barnes. Image: Gaby Mendivil.

"I feel a sense of pride that I committed to this work. Before the launch of The Finance Bar, professionally, I was on the rise in my career at a bank. It took tons of bravery and perseverance to not only remain steadfast, but to get Black women (and men) to trust me enough to open up about a topic as personal as finances."

We asked the finance maven to offer a few tips to help the EBONY audience improve our relationship with money, this year and beyond.

Identify what you value

Trying to work our way to a comfortable life can take away from the time we spend with family and friends. The Finance Bar founder urges us to ask ourselves two simple questions when evaluating our relationship with money.

 "You want to ask yourself, do you value more time with family and friends?" says Barnes. "And, how do you enjoy spending time with them?"

Recognize that contentment does not equal settling

"There are many times that we spend down to zero because we think we need another thing, or another experience, and we haven't financially planned for either," explains the financial guru. 

Review your numbers

She urges everyone to not skip this one, at all. It's super important and necessary to achieving financial wellness.

"Get in the habit of reviewing bank statements to actually view how you spend money and weigh it against what you earn," says Barnes. "Are you earning enough to sustain your lifestyle and plan for the future? If not, this is your sign to prepare for change."