Food trucks have become increasingly popular around most cities. The convenience of walking out of the office for lunch and seeing barbecue or homemade tacos 20-feet from the front door is no longer a novelty but has become the norm.
Now, what about walking outside and receiving financial advice – on a bus?
Marsha Barnes noticed that the food truck industry was booming in her home of Charlotte, North Carolina and that sparked her unconventional business concept.
Barnes told Charlotte Business Resources that she was on the search for more of an innovative and forward thinking idea.
“The mobile factor allows me to serve the community in many ways,” Barnes said. “I am also able to work with clients that don’t have access to computers or laptops.”
The founder of The Finance Bar turned a former bus into her financial office – first mobile literacy hub on wheels. The Finance Bar goes around Charlotte giving advice to people wanting to make better financial decisions. The Finance Bar offers face-to-face group engagements, seminars, and workshops to organizations and offers e-guided courses personalized for women, couples and young adults.
The savvy entrepreneur saved money by foregoing the usual brick-and-mortar shop. She found that most spaces were about $2,000 a month, but Barnes purchased the bus for only $3,500, and spent $20,000 in renovations.
Barnes considers herself to not just be a financial consultant but also a financial adviser who helps people with the basics of finance. She told the Charlotte Observer that her family’s lifelong habits motivated her to pursue her passion in personal finance. Her parents were laid off from their jobs of 20-plus years and they didn’t panic because they lived below their means—from skipping call-waiting for their home phone service to only shopping from the sales rack.
“[Losing their jobs ended up being] more of an inconvenience to them, rather than an emergency,” Barnes said.
Barnes expanded her business by launching an app called, The Finance Bar: Expense Manager, that allows people to manage their finances. The app also gives virtual members across the country access to monthly money sessions.
Additionally, Barnes established The Finance Bar Members Club, an online community for people who are determined to transform their financial lifestyle. For $10 a month, a member will receive virtual sessions, workbooks, access to an online forum and the ability to network with other like-minded individuals.
When asked about her future plans, Barnes told Charlotte Business Resources that she is working on The Finance Bar #2 for kids.
“I would love to offer resources to our local school system where the component of teaching personal finance is often missed.”