Marla McAlpine is a Mortgage Agent, a Certified Cash Flow Specialist™. She is also trained as a Money Coach. Marla is passionate about helping clients step off the financial treadmill and into more money for what matters to them. As Marla says, “Clients want to own their own home, not a Mortgage. It’s my job to make that desire a reality.”
Years ago, Marla worked hard at fixing her own financial fumbles. Although she had a six-figure corporate job, she also had $95,000 in student loans and credit card debt. Marla used conventional tools like a budget, credit cards, lines of credit and moving money back and forth in chequing and savings accounts (even freezing her credit cards in ice once) to manage her finances. These conventional tools did not work well, and made her feel like a financial failure.
“I would have never figured out how to improve my own financial health if I did not question conventional wisdom or seek out great mentors. For people who work hard to earn a decent income yet still wonder where their money goes every month (and why there isn’t more left over), I offer tools and guidance to help them move forward,” the Healthy Wallet Founder says.
By identifying and then following “Three Keys to a Healthy Wallet” Marla eliminated her debt and grew her net worth by $100,000 in four years. She founded her company and became a Mortgage Agent to help clients get rid of debt and own their own homes sooner. “My mission is to help people get ahead financially. I know first-hand what it’s like to be on a financial treadmill,” she says.
Today, there are more options and better tools to accelerate Mortgage and debt repayment than ever before. According to Marla, “Most people don’t know what tools are available, how to use them effectively, understand the different lending products or realize that the lowest rate does not necessarily mean the lowest cost. In fact, the lowest-rate Mortgages can end up costing more. For example, if you sell your home or break your Mortgage before the end of the term, a low interest, fixed-rate Mortgage often attracts hefty financial penalties. A client’s short, medium and long-term plans, not the interest rate, should determine what Mortgage is right for him or her.
”Marla often sees situations where people make expensive financial mistakes. For example, some folks get stuck in a costly Mortgage because of a problem with their credit, but don’t know what, if anything, they can do about it. The longer someone delays solving credit issues, the more it costs. “I work together with professionals to help clients move past any credit issues. This often means thousands more dollars in my clients’ pockets,” Marla says.
Another common mistake is when people take equity out of their home to pay off debts such as car loans and credit card balances. “Consolidating” gives the illusion of saving money by reducing interest costs and monthly payments. In reality it just transfers debt from one area to another. More importantly, consolidation extends the pay-down timeline. “It can be a trap. Without the right guidance,people end up paying thousands more in interest without realizing it, and risk extending debt into retirement,” the Mortgage agent adds.
Marla told me that it is not unusual for many high-income earners to find themselves on a financial treadmill, because they spend more than they realize.“In my experience, a bigger income just buys a bigger shovel with which to dig a deeper financial hole.
”Another myth is that following a budget is the only way to financial health. How is this possible, when just hearing the word “budget” makes most of us queasy? “A basic financial principle is to spend less than you earn. I don’t know anyone who gets excited about the prospect of eating rice and beans for dinner every day for the next five years,” Marla says with a smile. “A budget works well when tracking the total costs of a specific project like a kitchen renovation. Because a budget is restrictive and is based on deprivation, it doesn’t work well when managing expenditures on a daily basis. The answer is a combination of balance and flexibility, with a Personal Cash Flow Plan,” she adds.
For those clients who want to get off their financial treadmill, Marla coaches them on the “Three Keys to a Healthy Wallet” that got her unstuck. Gaining clarity is the first key in turning things around. Marla describes clarity as knowing what you want to experience in your life, so you can better focus your spending. Not only do you waste less money on trivial items, you end up being more fulfilled.
Many people do not focus on, or may not even know, what they truly want. “For example,” Marla says, “If a client wants to pay off $15,000 in credit card debt, I ask them to tell me what they will do with that money instead? At that point,they’ll tell me what they really want…to take a once-in- a-lifetime trip, get braces for the kids, work fewer hours, spend more time at home, or having more money to invest…whatever is most important, but had not been possible given all their competing expenses. The Cash Flow planning process can make those goals a reality without incurring more debt.
”The second key is selecting the correct tools. As a Mortgage Agent and a Cash Flow Specialist, Marla uses two main tools. The first is matching Mortgages and lending products to her clients’ needs. A Personal Cash Flow Plan can also be prepared to direct money to identified priorities and to keep people financially organized. One of the benefits of a Personal Cash Flow Plan is that it provides immediate feedback if clients’ spending goes off the rails. It’s much easier and more empowering to course correct on the spot than it is to play financial catch-up later on.
The third key is to eliminate unhealthy or unconscious spending. Marla says that on average, people make 6-10 money decisions every day. Many of these are impulse buys, which end up taking people further away from their goals. The key to success, no matter the amount of income, is to make conscious decisions on how to spend that income.
Marla says, “The great thing about a Personal Cash Flow Plan is that it makes room for fun expenses like dining out, fancy coffees, clothes, electronics and even vacations. When clients become conscious of their spending, their Cash Flow Plan lets them know if they can purchase that ‘want it/need-it’ item now, or if they have to wait a week or two - without impacting their larger goals. Spending decisions become conscious decisions. It’s amazing how many things you decide not to buy when you take the time to think about it.”
Marla gets the best results or clients when she combines her Mortgage work with Cash Flow planning. As well as helping clients be Mortgage and debt-free faster,Marla is committed to educating clients about making conscious, healthy, money decisions. “Money works on many levels and our self-worth is often linked to our net worth. Being in control of their money gives clients confidence, no matter how much they earn. Managing money effectively is a skill that can be learned.Debt does not define you as a human being, it just means you haven’t learned that skill yet,” she adds.
Typically, Marla’s clients are homeowners and first-time home buyers, busy families, and successful professionals that want to eliminate all of their debt,(including their Mortgage), and build equity faster, so they have more money today and in the future. For those getting a Personal Cash Flow Plan along with their Mortgage, Marla’s coaching process enhances success.
“The Three Keys – Clarity, the right Tools (Mortgage and Personal Cash Flow Plan),and Coaching – keep my clients moving confidently towards their goals, without budgeting, tracking their expenses or depriving themselves,” the Healthy Wallet Founder says.
“What many people are missing is a simple system to control their money. That is what a Personal Cash Flow Plan does. It provides clarity on how much money you are free to spend, and how to afford what matters to you,” Marla adds. In most cases Marla’s Personal Cash Flow Plans have identified between $400 to $3,000+a month in additional, after-tax money that can then be redirected to more important things. This was money being lost through ineffective spending and unnecessary interest charges.
Does it work? Yes, according to one of Marla’s clients who said, “…Even though I am building a good real estate portfolio, I was carrying more investment debt than I was comfortable with. Marla gave me strategies to keep more money in my pocket each month, use my access to credit to my advantage, and set up are payment plan that made sense…without having to make unrealistic sacrifices.”
The non-financial benefits are just as tangible. Clients feel less stressed financially.They also have more control, which helps them make better life decisions. Marla’s process also helps couples stop fighting about money because they feel they are finally on the same page.
Marla is focused on getting clients results. “In my mind, putting clients first means getting them on the right financial path, even if it’s a two- or three-step process.
When a Mortgage client comes to me with a complicated situation, I ask myself,how can I help this person?”
Marla lives in Durham region with her husband a family of rescue pets including three black cats – Mav, Chuck and Luna – and a senior dog named Sky. She enjoys curling in the winter and riding her motorcycle in the summer.
Marla hosts complimentary educational seminars in the GTA and Durham Region,“Get Rid of Your Mortgage Faster (without making extra payments) about six times a year. Please visit www.healthywallet.com/events to view the current schedule and to reserve your seat at an upcoming seminar.
Marla hosts educational seminars in the GTA and Durham Region. Please visit www.healthywallet.com/events to view the current schedule and to reserve your seat at an upcoming seminar.
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category
Mortgage Agent License M16001744
iBrokerPower Capital Inc. (The Mortgage Centre)
Brokerage Lic.#: 10538
Office Address (by Appointment Only)
iBrokerPower Capital Inc. (The Mortgage Centre)
101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 400
North York (Toronto), Ontario M3B 1Z3
Toll Free: 1.877.386.9911