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Published on February 15, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by

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When you’re short on cash, barter!

Ex-Bay St. financial planner quit her job to barter advice

MAGDALENA KAPELA

Generation Y may be tech-savvy, but statistics indicate they are financially illiterate. They acquire loads of debt. With little confidence in their financial decisions this generation could turn to the traditional experts – hard to navigate financial blogs, bankers that are more interested in profit then our financial well being, and their parents.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Simmons

Courtesy of Shannon Simmons

That’s where Shannon Simmons comes in. As a Certified Financial Planner, Simmons has all the expertise you need, and she is willing to trade you for it. Simmons has dedicated a year to help women get their finances on track through The Barter Babes Project. Before the birth of the Barter Babes, Simmons was working with high net-worth clients at a private wealth management firm where she was paid in dollars. Now she gets paid in meatballs, and other innovative currency.

The project officially launched in Toronto last November, but Simmons had been doing research on this demographic for years. “The only thing lacking was a functioning business model to make a living,” says Simmons.

The vision spiraled into reality after Simmons overheard two young women panicking about money issues in line at a Toronto pub. The financial guru had to step in and provide her expertise. “They were so appreciative that they dropped off beer at my table saying it’s the least they can do for financial advice.” That’s when the light bulb switched on. Simmons decided she would trade things for financial advice.

Clients contact Simmons via her website. Next, they agree on the terms of the barter. “I’m not looking for a monetary value, it’s about the experience. As long as it costs your time and effort, or is something that is exciting for you to do, I’m pumped about it” she says.

Clients provide Simmons with their financial information, as well as a document that outlines their short and long-term goals. Simmons then meets with the Barter Babe equipped with the advice and tools necessary for making smart financial decisions.

Sara Duke, fashion designer, was the 49th Barter Babe. She had heard about the Project from a Facebook friend. The Ryerson graduate and small business owner recently opened a new store on Bloor St. W called Sara Duke Factory Store and needed help systematizing her finances.

“I’m a new business and things got jumbled up with my personal finances. I just needed help getting organized and wanted to make sure that my expectations and projections were in check, regular stuff for a soul proprietor.”

Duke was grateful for Simmons’ help and says the best thing she got out of the session was confidence.

A good solid budget that doesn’t make you go crazy is Simmons’ golden rule for students. She doesn’t agree with budgets that allocate how much you can spend each week on entertainment and other variable costs. “Giving yourself $10 for movies and $18 a week for wine is constricting and you will end up feeling like a failure.”

Simmons has bartered with 62 Babes and has enjoyed every consultation, “I absolutely love helping the way I’m helping. I feel like I’m in there when it’s most important.”

She feels anyone can benefit from her services, including students with little or no income, since building foundations will help them in the future.

Simmons barters on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s with in-city clients. She Skypes with those who live out of town.

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