Jonathan Lopez, Courtesy Catalina Franco-Cicero

Classes For All Classes



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.


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.

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