My Money Story

How I went from being flat broke to FUNding a life I’m proud of— and helping others do the same.

Money Coach - Nicole Stork-Hestad, sits straddling the back of a chair staring into the camera - dark mauve and moody backdrop

It all started with a food stamp application.

In January 2008, at 23, I had been married for five months, and I was flat broke.

When the market crashed, fresh college graduates (like my husband and I) were competing for jobs with Ph.D. holders and ex-executives. The best we could do was get part-time positions.

We couldn’t afford health insurance. We ate cheap, unhealthy food. We lived in a dump. And often, we were choosing between paying rent or buying groceries.

Living this way, with very little money, felt like drowning.

And as I sat at my coffee table (that we got from the trash) filling out a food stamp application, I thought to myself, I know more is possible for us.

Growing up middle class, I knew it was possible to take a vacation every year and have enough money for both rent and food. So I did the only thing I knew to do when I wanted to learn something…

I drove my 1989 broken-down Sundance over to the library.

I taught myself about money.

I checked out anything with the words “finance” or “money” in the title. Books, magazines, journal articles—I read it all. Everything from Dave Ramsey to finance professors at Harvard.

I knew we needed to do something if we wanted to get out of two dead-end, part-time careers in a too-small town. And the answer came to me while reading Kiplinger’s magazine.

Graduate schools offered tuition coverage and stipends. So we set aside rent money and used credit to pay for the applications.

My acceptance letter came from the University of Kentucky with an offer for a part-time scholarship and a 10-hour student work position.

It was an impossible financial choice, but I knew after looking at the numbers we could literally not afford to make this move. And that’s when I learned my very first lesson in the laws of money:

The first transformation to a wealthier life is in your willingness to pay for the change.

I also knew we could not afford to NOT make this choice to create a different future for ourselves. So I accepted, and we moved to Kentucky without a dime to our names.

As a grad student, I got my first client.

As a teaching assistant, I worked for a personal finance and economics professor. And that’s when my future really began.

I devoured every finance textbook he gave me and then some. And then he got me my first client—a 92-year-old woman who needed help with her finances.

I charged her and her husband $20/hour to help manage their accounts. And I never felt so amazing. Someone was actually paying me to do what I loved!

I got plenty of other opportunities to learn, research, and teach people all about personal finance. All the while, I used my own little family’s finances as an experiment, finding new ways to create or save more money while reducing stress in our home and relationship.

Now I’m buying a life I could only have dreamed about.

If you had told me in 2008, when I was filling out that food stamps application, that I’d be living the life I am today, I would have kindly told you where you could stick all that nonsense.

But it’s true. I have bought the life I want to live, and it’s rich in love, security, and memories. Money freedom is what got me there.

I’ve gotten the opportunity to:

  • Earn my Master’s degree in Family Science

  • Become an expert in human development and the human’s capacity for growth and change over a lifetime

  • Design courses for and teach over 250 hours of personal finance literacy courses at the college level

  • Work toward earning a Ph.D. in Personal Finance and Family Economics with certifications in Financial Counseling and Financial Therapy

…all while building two businesses.

Putting my husband through veterinary school.

Buying my husband his dream veterinary clinic.

And building beautiful memories with my family.

Though I still have money problems, I don’t have money stress because I don’t have to make decisions based on money. I make the decision I want to make, and then I find a way to fund it.

And I hope to help you find the same freedom from money stress as your money coach. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you’re capable of when money is no longer a constant worry in your life.

I want to be your money coach!

Like I realized in 2008 while filling out that food stamps application, my clients know there is more for them. And they’re finally ready to do the work it takes to get there.

I’d love to be the one to help guide you through the process so you can become your own version of wealthy.

Money Coach - Nicole Stork-Hestad, staring at camera with a slight grin