42, MIRAMAR, FLA.
BACKSTORY: Emigrated from Colombia in 1983.
EDUCATION: MS from Barry University.
PROFESSION: Director of financial wellness at Fiscal Fitness Clubs of America, a provider of personal financial coaching.
VISION: Promote financial literacy.
Catalina Franco-Cicero began learning about finances soon after she arrived from Colombia at the age of 8 with her two siblings and their single mother. The first in her family to learn English, Franco-Cicero translated all the bills.
Today, Franco-Cicero is still helping families decode the language of money. Originally a physical fitness instructor, she changed careers after taking a financial planning course in 2011. Late last year she launched Fiscal Fitness Clubs of America's online financial wellness classes, a $59-per-month gathering (which employers can subsidize). It covers topics such as insurance and taxes for people struggling with finances or trying to be savvier about money. Franco-Cicero says she aims to help people of all pay grades take control of their finances.
HER SPENDING LESSONS
USE PAPER AND PLASTIC. Jot down your top three financial goals on a piece of paper and wrap it around your credit cards. You'll see those goals each time you reach for a card, nudging you to think twice before you make an impulse buy.
HAVE A MONEY MANTRA. Is spending still keeping you from your goals? Some time-tested advice bears repeating. "Before you make any purchase, ask yourself, Is this a need or a want?" Franco-Cicero says. "It's that easy."
PREPARE FOR SURPRISES. Doctor visits, car repairs, and holidays have a funny way of sneaking up on you. Set up a "curveball account": Add up all the nonroutine expenses you had last year and divide the total by 12. Then start saving that amount each month.