Eric Roberge is a Certified Financial Planner™ and the founder of Beyond Your Hammock, a virtual financial planning company that helps professionals in their 30s and 40s do more with their money. He spends his days working out of our coworking space here in Boston, helping clients organize their finances and create practical financial strategies that provide clarity and peace of mind. He also educates students about the value of money and speak to other financial planners at conferences across the country to transform the way financial advice is delivered in our society.
In 2016, Investment News named Eric to their exclusive 40 Under 40 list, Wealth Management Magazine called him one of the top 10 CFPs under 36, and Financial Advisor Magazine said he was one of the top 10 Young Advisors to Watch. He has shared his innovative financial planning and money management techniques in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNBC, and Entrepreneur Magazine, and writes articles for Forbes, The Huffington Post, and MONEY Magazine.
Q: Was there a moment in your life when you knew you needed to become a social innovator? Tell us about it.
I’ve always wanted to help people in need, but never really considered myself a social innovator. I founded Beyond Your Hammock in 2013 to help people organize their finances and use their money as a tool to live a fulfilling life. Financial education is invaluable, as money plays a significant role in our daily lives. Whether I’m working directly with clients, educating employee groups at corporations or chatting with non profits and the people they serve, I seek to provide new perspectives and alternative routes to achieving important goals.
Q: What led you to the work you’re doing now?
In 2013, after working in financial services for 11 years, I realized that I was frustrated with the traditional financial advisor role. I noticed that financial advisors were not really providing support to anyone who wasn’t rich and/or retiring, and that needed to change. At the time I was 33, and I saw first hand that my peers didn’t have access to quality financial advice and their finances were suffering because of it. They were overwhelmed with so many competing priorities and didn’t know what to do. They knew they needed to save for future goals like home ownership and retirement, but they were also struggling to pay off credit cards and student loans.
I saw a huge opportunity to create a company that could help younger people understand how to manage their money. This is a topic that nobody ever talks about in school or anywhere else. We get certain money habits from our parents who probably learned from trial and error, but those may not be all that effective. I saw that I could be that person helping professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s understand that effective money management can help them plan responsibly for tomorrow and still allow them to enjoy themselves today.
My experience starting a business strengthened my commitment to this service. I didn’t have much money when I first started Beyond Your Hammock, so I had to find a part time job as a waiter for the first time in my life just to make ends (almost) meet. It was a very challenging time in my life, because I was working Thursday through Sunday at the restaurant and then trying to build my business Monday through Wednesday. To make this work, I had to get really good at managing my cash flow and that experience allows me to be empathetic with clients trying to save for multiple goals on a limited budget.
Although making more money can make things easier, that’s not the driver of financial success.
It’s all about how you handle your cash flow: your income and your expenses. That will determine whether or not you will be financially successful. Regardless of whether you make $40,000 or $400,000, if you aren’t saving, you’ll never truly be financially independent unless you save and invest.
The greatest part about building solid money habits with a limited income is that when you do start making more money, saving and growing that money is actually pretty simple.
Q: Tell us about the community you serve/problem you solve.
I serve several different communities right now. For each, I provide financial education, guidance and advice to help people take action with their money to support themselves and their families. The typical client at Beyond Your Hammock is a 30 or 40 something professional in Boston who wants to take advantage of his or her six figure income. I also provide money management education to employees at both large and small companies through webinars and in person seminars. Additionally, I offer financial literacy training programs to high school and college students, and organizations who support low income families.
I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people of all income levels, from the successful executive at a Fortune 500 company to the single mother of four, who is struggling to make ends meet. I’ve helped educate homeless individuals who were recently released from prison in Boston and young kids trying to escape the gang life in Dorchester. I’ve taught entrepreneurship classes at local middle schools and provided educational talks to financial planners who want to learn how to support a younger demographic. The diversity in my work motivates me and every conversation is a new opportunity for me to help people in need. Through the many conversations I’ve had, I’ve learned how to adjust the level of my education so it meets the needs of the audience. In order for people to do something with the advice I give, they not only have to know how to do it, but also why it will benefit them.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is starting, or looking to start a new business or venture?
Focus on what you can control. As I tell my clients, there are many things that could influence our progress, and most of them are out of our control. By spending too much time worrying and wondering about the “what if” situations, you are distracting yourself from what needs to get done right now. Planning is certainly important, but it won’t actually get you to where you want to be. The only thing that will actually move you forward is taking actions right now… and now…. and now. It’s about being present and making educated decisions about what you need to do next.
It will be a tough road and you will fail often. Don’t avoid situations where you could fail, but instead take them on. You will learn more from your failures than you ever will from your successes. And, it’s your response to the tough situations that will make or break your future success.
Q: If you were granted 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
A wish for others: I wish people would learn to spend within their means and make smart money decisions. By spending and saving wisely, credit card debt would be non-existent and people would have so much less stress in their lives. I wish people would spend on things that they truly value and not waste money on things they don’t. It’s not easy but something to strive for. I hope that each person I speak to is in a better position than they were before our conversation. I want to change as many lives as possible, but I am only one person. If enough people educate themselves about money, we can all join forces and change the world.
A personal wish: I want to create enough passive income to be able to live my life exactly the way I want to without worry. That would give me the freedom to do a lot of travelling and help more people without having to consider whether or not I am getting paid for it.
Third wish: To have kids while my grandparents are still alive.
Upcoming Event: On March 28th at 5:30pm, Eric will be hosting an event in Lighthouse (20th floor of 50 Milk Street) focused on helping attendees learn how they can pay off student loans and save for a home. It’s not a question about which one to do first, but how you might be able to do both at the same time.