Real Money, Real Experts

Overcoming addiction and leading with empathy with Ambus Hunter IV, AFC® Candidate

August 03, 2021 AFCPE® Season 1 Episode 32
Real Money, Real Experts
Overcoming addiction and leading with empathy with Ambus Hunter IV, AFC® Candidate
Chapters
Real Money, Real Experts
Overcoming addiction and leading with empathy with Ambus Hunter IV, AFC® Candidate
Aug 03, 2021 Season 1 Episode 32
AFCPE®

From music education, to supply chain management, to overcoming a gambling addiction, Ambus Hunter’s path to becoming a financial counselor looks different from most.

In this episode, you’ll hear co-hosts Rebecca Wiggins and Dr. Mary Bell Carlson chat with Accredited Financial Counselor® Candidate Ambus as he shares his story of struggling with, and triumphing over, a gambling addiction, and how it ultimately brought him to his private practice.

Both vulnerable and authentic, Ambus discusses the importance of empathy and understanding within the financial coaching profession, the power of sharing our struggles, and the beauty in creating human connections.

 
 Show Notes:

00:52 Ambus Introduction
01:29 Ambus’ Journey to the Field of Finance
14:03 Understanding and being Empathetic towards Gambling Addictions
18:15 How Life Experiences Validate Your Practice
22:59 Working with Clients with an Addiction
27:27 They Journey towards the AFC®
29:52 Ambus’ Private Practice
32:34 Talking about Stocks and Investing as a Financial Counselor/Coach
35:52 Get Registered to Give Investment Advice
37:18 Ambus’ Two Cents


 
 Show Note links:

Social Media

IG: @ambushunter 
Twitter: @ambusvhunter

Ambus’s blog: www.ambushunter.com
Ambus’ personal journey: https://www.ambushunter.com/how-gambling-away-my-savings-strengthened-my-relationship-with-money/
National Gambling Helpline: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/national-helpline-1-800-522-4700/
Department of Health and Human Services - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

From the Ground Up: Starting a Private Practice and Navigating State Registrations: https://www.afcpe.org/real-money-real-experts-podcast/

Show Notes Transcript

From music education, to supply chain management, to overcoming a gambling addiction, Ambus Hunter’s path to becoming a financial counselor looks different from most.

In this episode, you’ll hear co-hosts Rebecca Wiggins and Dr. Mary Bell Carlson chat with Accredited Financial Counselor® Candidate Ambus as he shares his story of struggling with, and triumphing over, a gambling addiction, and how it ultimately brought him to his private practice.

Both vulnerable and authentic, Ambus discusses the importance of empathy and understanding within the financial coaching profession, the power of sharing our struggles, and the beauty in creating human connections.

 
 Show Notes:

00:52 Ambus Introduction
01:29 Ambus’ Journey to the Field of Finance
14:03 Understanding and being Empathetic towards Gambling Addictions
18:15 How Life Experiences Validate Your Practice
22:59 Working with Clients with an Addiction
27:27 They Journey towards the AFC®
29:52 Ambus’ Private Practice
32:34 Talking about Stocks and Investing as a Financial Counselor/Coach
35:52 Get Registered to Give Investment Advice
37:18 Ambus’ Two Cents


 
 Show Note links:

Social Media

IG: @ambushunter 
Twitter: @ambusvhunter

Ambus’s blog: www.ambushunter.com
Ambus’ personal journey: https://www.ambushunter.com/how-gambling-away-my-savings-strengthened-my-relationship-with-money/
National Gambling Helpline: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/national-helpline-1-800-522-4700/
Department of Health and Human Services - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

From the Ground Up: Starting a Private Practice and Navigating State Registrations: https://www.afcpe.org/real-money-real-experts-podcast/

Intro (00:02):

Welcome to Real Money, Real Experts, a podcast where leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rebecca Wiggins, Executive Director of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® or AFCPE®. And I'm your cohost, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson. I'm an Accredited Financial Counselor®, or AFC®, and the CEO of Chief Financial Mom. Every episode, we're taking a deep dive into the topics that the personal finance professionals care about: helping clients, building community and your professional growth. Welcome everyone to the Real Money, Real Experts podcast. I'm Rebecca. This is Mary. Thanks for taking the time to join us today.

Rebecca Wiggins (00:52):

Today on the show we are talking with Ambus Hunter. Ambus is an Accredited Financial Counselor® Candidate from the Baltimore area. He works as a Program Manager and Conflict Resolution Mediator for the Federal Government. On the side, he manages an online financial education business and I learned that we have something in common -- we both have a background in music! So I'm really excited to talk with him today. And, he also is going to share with us his journey through gambling addiction and how it brought him to his current career. So we have a lot to talk about, welcome to the podcast Ambus.

Ambus Hunter IV (01:24):

So good to be here. It's like being with family, you know, the AFCPE® family. I love it.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (01:29):

Ambus you've got such a fascinating story, will you start at the beginning and tell us how you went from a music major at Bowling Green to the field of financial counseling.

Ambus Hunter IV (01:38):

I'll give you the full story. It started on a beautiful Friday morning in 1986. We'll just start from there? But I'll just start actually with my parents. Growing up. I had a great childhood. My parents modeled a lot of positive financial behaviors, kind of without being completely direct and overt about it. So I think seeing that put an early message in my head because we were going on vacation each year and having these great experiences. And I actually thought, I actually thought we had more money than really what we did. We did. It was not so much that we had a lot of money. My, my parents, you know, they were average income at that time. But my parents were super savers and they believed in, you know, saving for a rainy day, saving in order to, to refund the things that were important to them. So those were some early messages for me. And being that I had, I guess, a passion for music growing up, my parents super supported my passions and my interests. And if you know, musicians, and if you're into music, you know, music can be, music can be a little bit expensive. Especially as a drummer, which I am, you know, I wanted all the, you know, I want it all, all the drums, all this stuff. So I was really fortunate to see my parents kind of model using money to fund their values and help me to fund my values. And that kind of started me on the path of continuing to, pursue music. So end up landing a scholarship, to go to Bowling Green State University to study music. So I was a music education major. I did music performance and I did jazz studies and, you know, having a good time, like a lot of college students do. And as much as I loved playing music, I started losing a bit of my passion for it because as a music student, I mean, it really became a chore. You know, you're, you're, you're practicing all day. You're taking piano lessons, you're taking all the different ensembles. You're learning how to arrange music, compose. And it was becoming such a, such a chore. So about halfway through my college experience, I decided I wanted to go a slightly different path, which meant changing my concentration to business, which was something else I had a passion for and had an interest in, and kind of shifting music to becoming a minor. So that's what I did. So I shifted my major from music and jazz studies to supply chain management. And my rationale was, you know, go the business route, go ahead and secure employment, and you can always play music on the side. So my switch to supply chain management led to me getting a job with the United States Air Force as a civilian. And I was working at Wright-Patt[erson] Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. And it was an entry-level logistics position working in military acquisitions. So I was about 23 at this time making at this time, let's see 2009, I was probably making just under $40,000. A couple of years into that. I picked up gambling. I picked up roulette on a trip to Vegas with my best friend, a memorable time. Actually it was about 10 years ago this month, actually, when I went to Vegas and I picked up a gambling habit and really spent the majority of that particular year, this would have been 2011, gambling on and off, you know, every other weekend, every weekend. And to be quite honest with you winning quite a bit of money in the process. You know, I really just fell in love with roulette. So this goes on for pretty much the spring and summer of 2011, and I hit a bit of a block, you know, I started losing. And a lot, I started losing a lot. I first lost $2,000, you know, in about two minutes. Lost two grand. That shocked me, but whereas most people would say, okay, I just lost like a lot of money, I should probably stop. My thought process was I just lost a lot of money, but I need to win this back, you know, and you, and you start trying to chase the losses and start trying to justify the, the continued behavior. So I'm gambling and losing for most of fall of 2011, every other day. You know, I'm driving to the casinos in Indiana and in Pennsylvania every week or every other week. And I'm just losing more and more and more, and I knew I should have stopped, but you, you just want one more big hit, you know, one, one more win and I'll stop for good, you know, you tell yourself this. So when ended up happening was pretty much between the last week of November of that year, 2011, to about mid December. So in about three weeks, I ended up losing $10,000 and $10,000 for me at that time, you know, I'm about 25 at that time, that was all the money I had. So I had burned through the money I had been winning from gambling and all of my savings, and that was still not enough to make me stop. So what ended up happening was I started getting these phone calls, these, these random phone calls, you know, like we do a lot of times today and you, maybe you think they're spam calls, whatever the case may be. I'm getting these repeat phone calls. And one day I just decided to answer the phone and it turns out it's Walmart Credit Card Services notifying me that I had not paid my credit card bill. And it was actually that moment that kind of snapped me out of it. Because for years, and, and, you know, growing up with my parents and, and the positive financial behaviors and them teaching me how to save, all these things, I was pretty good with money up until that year. So kind of getting that phone call from Walmart Credit Card Services that I had not paid a credit card bill, a bill that really shocked me because I knew that wasn't me. And it made me realize that I had lost myself in this whole gambling fiasco. And it was actually that moment where I decided to stop gambling. So I stopped, I stopped gambling and I was like, okay, I've lost $10,000. I need to fix what I've done here. So I identified the damage, you know, and I started what we normally would do. You start calculating your income and I'm looking at what I'm making at the time, which is probably around $50,000 at that particular time. And I'm like, okay, if I saved every dollar where I could, you know, if I, if I stripped down the budget and I, I cut out all the fun, I cut all the things I don't need. This is how much money I could have. And this is how long it could take me to undo what I did. And I created a plan, you know, I created a plan of like, okay, what if I take on a couple of extra jobs? How long would it take me then? And I just really started running through all these different scenarios of if I do this, how long would it take me? All I wanted to do was just kind of undo what I did just to get back, you know, the $10,000 that I had. So I put all these things in place. I pick up a couple of part-time jobs. I worked as a mystery shopper and I, I was handing out free shots of liquor in bars, which is a, which was a very fun job for a 25 year old. And, uh, after about 10 months of this additional income and living on a very strict budget, I mean, I had cut everything down to the bare necessities. If it wasn't an absolute financial obligation, I wasn't doing it. So I wasn't going out. I wasn't going out to eat. I wasn't, I wasn't dating. I wasn't doing anything that required money outside of what I had to pay. And after about 10 months of doing this, I had saved about $20,000. So I had completely reversed my $10,000 mistake, and I saved another 10,000 on top of that. And that was honestly what kind of changed the course of my life for the better and keeping that philosophy of knowing that if I get myself into a problem, I can get myself out of it if I focus on positive behaviors and do it for enough time, that forever shaped me. So this would have been 2012 and, you know, I was saving money. I was, I was aggressively investing money. I mean, I had a totally different mindset of money. And after about five years of doing this and helping people with money, I kind of informally, you know, posting on social media about money and just kind of like just helping people here and there. I realized I had a real passion for helping people with money through a lot of the things that I had been through and trying to help people overcome their challenges. And I basically decided in 2007 that, hey, maybe I should try this out. So being the analytical thinker that I am, and, and kind of the, the, the risk mitigation person that I am, I was thinking, okay, let me go try it for a little bit of time and see how I like it. So I decided to become a volunteer financial coach and a volunteer financial educator. And that's what started the ball rolling as far as going down a path of financial education.

Rebecca Wiggins (10:46):

Wow. That's an amazing story. And I think you've hit on so many different things. I want to take a step back to, I'm just curious, really, when you were going through all of that, and you sort of realized on your own that you had a problem and the credit, it sounds like the credit card debt was what sort of snapped you back or made that connection to the gambling addiction and how it was impacting the rest of your life. Were you going through that alone or did you talk to others about it? Was it something you kept hidden? I'm just curious about that.

Ambus Hunter IV (11:14):

So the best friend that I went to Vegas with initially, I was kind of letting him know about the winnings and I was letting him know about the losses. So he was probably the only person that had some type of idea of what I was going through. And when I started losing, I mean, burning through $2000 here, another $1500 there, he just really just couldn't believe it. Because he was like, Ambus, you know, you all, you've always been about your money and like, quote, unquote smart with your money. He just could not believe that was even like, that was something I was going through. So he was the only person I was kind of even sharing something about it, but I was definitely like lying to other people in my life. Like, you know, my, my family knew I had picked up roulette. They knew I was winning money. They had no idea I was losing it. I wasn't telling them that, by the way, I'm burning through every dollar that I have.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (12:01):

Ambus. That's pretty incredible. I think that there's a lot of takeaways for several people, but especially for financial professionals. Can you help us understand as financial professionals, what we should do to look for gambling red flags?

Ambus Hunter IV (12:15):

Red flags. That's a good question, because I don't think I've ever really thought about it from the perspective of, you know, kind of the seat I'm in now. Well, I'll tell you this. One of the challenges is, is that if, if someone isn't very forthcoming, I mean, they're just, you just might not know. And I'm trying to think if I was coaching myself at that time, what type of red flags would I have seen? I guess just, you know, if someone was kind of looking at my financial situation, my cashflow situation that closely, they, they definitely would've noticed, you know, Ambus, why are you withdrawing $2,000 every, every few days? I mean, those are some of the more direct signals that something is going on, but as far as my behavior, and I can only reflect on my behaviors, my behavior is probably to the outside, looking in, probably would have seen normal. I think to someone with a sharp eye, they may have noticed that my well-being was taking a dive. So that might be a pretty, a pretty good red flag. I mean, I wasn't sleeping. I was no longer going to the gym. I mean, I'm, I'm very much into my health and wellness. I had stopped going into the gym. I was becoming disconnected at work. So, I think as I was kind of losing a bit of a grip of reality, if someone was closer to me, if I, if I allow someone to be closer to me at that time, they probably would have noticed I'm just not myself. So if I, if I now in the seat as a financial professional, if you have that type of client relationship with someone where you're getting to know them, you kind of know the routines that they have in their life. You know, this person goes to the gym or this person likes to do XYZ. And you've gotten to notice that they're not really doing these things, it might not necessarily mean they're gambling, but you can probably tell that there's something going on.

Rebecca Wiggins (14:03):

Yeah. And I think the other thing that it brings up for me is oftentimes like, you're right. There, there maybe, isn't a red flag, or maybe the person isn't working with a financial coach or counselor for it to be discovered. But how can, you know, I guess maybe speak to if you could, just, why it's important to understand how these addictions manifest, because even as you were talking through your story, it's like you do start to think from a less judgmental place of, well, why would someone continue to do that? It could happen really to any of us. How that begins to you almost get that high off of, I won this one time. It'll certainly, if I just do it a couple more times, I'll get that money back. So could you speak a little bit, I guess, from the vantage point of the importance of having that empathy and understanding about the addictions because the financial counselor or coach may be working with that person beyond when the addiction has started.

Ambus Hunter IV (14:54):

Absolutely. And, and to your point, I was very hesitant to kind of put myself out there as a financial coach and educator, because I knew I would have to tell my story. And this story, this perspective is not necessarily a perspective you hear often, right? You hear things about debt. You know, it's a common story. Someone, you know, you have student loan debt, or some other type of debt, that's more of the common story that most people can identify with. Gambling, I mean, it's, it's a totally destructive behavior. You know, that this is not like I, I thought I was going to get some degree and get some good job, and turned out, it just ended up being a pile of debt. It was, it was not that it was a totally destructive behavior. And I do think it's important to keep in mind that this can happen to anyone. I was one and continued to be a highly disciplined person. A person that, that puts a lot of emphasis in to my, you know, my thoughts and, and tries to be very intentional with how I live my life. And, and yet, I fell into this and it was my, it was my behaviors. This was not something happening to me. It was me driving to the casino. So I think it's important to remember these things can happen to anyone. And when you're in the thick of it, when you're in the addiction, when you're in the casinos, even when you're winning, you, don't, it's not like there's some sign, you know, some banner that drops down from the sky, like, oh, by the way, Ambus, you're on the path to picking up a gambling addiction. Like it doesn't, it doesn't work like that. It doesn't, it doesn't feel like that. So you don't even notice that, oh, I love this feeling. Oh, I, you know, you leave and you want to go back in and that's all you can think about. And it really just kind of consume you and anything that can kind of just consume, you good or bad things, you know, they are, I should say, positive or negative things. You just don't necessarily notice it. And I have heard from some, you know, financial professionals, they have asked the question and with good intentions of like, oh, Ambus, I just don't even see how that could happen. Like the kind of undertone it's like, how could you be that stupid with your money? You know? But, but, so it is important to keep that in mind, these things do happen to people. Gambling as such like an accessible vice. The negative side of it is, not, that story is not often told. You, see the lights, we see the casinos, we see what it does for tax revenues and in the communities. And those it's, it's typically framed as, you know, when a casino comes to town, it's typically framed as a positive thing. You don't necessarily hear the radio ads or the commercials of, of people that have been losing their shirts and their assets. And these are individuals that I actually encountered when I was in the middle of my gambling addiction. I mean, I was on the roulette table with, I remember I'll never forget this man who was telling me how he, he came straight from work and he comes straight from work every day. And oftentimes with his paycheck in hand to cash it out so he can gamble. And these are some of the silent, you know, the faces that we just don't see, the stories we just don't see. So I would believe there's more people probably around you around all of us that are dealing with gambling, addiction, scratch off addictions, you know, lottery or sports betting addictions. There are all around us. You know what I mean? Cause it's just like not really a thing that gets talked about.

Rebecca Wiggins (18:15):

Well, I think the other thing I wanted to just mention is you said, you know, something you didn't really want to talk about early on or felt like maybe that disqualified you from becoming a financial counselor or coach, but I actually would argue that that makes it really much more powerful. And, and, many ways, what is really the unique beauty of many of our professionals is that many of them have walked along this journey, not necessarily gambling addiction, but some sort of struggle with their own money in their own life. And so oftentimes I think that brings that human perspective and potentially brings more clients to the table because it sort of normalizes some of these issues so that you can get past the shame. I'm wondering if you've found that, you know, if that has something that you've overcome now.

Ambus Hunter IV (19:00):

Yeah, absolutely. I'll tell you what, what helped me was like you just said, realizing that, okay, this is my story. And if I'm going to, I mean, I can only be myself and we talk about the importance of being authentic in life. That's my authentic story, even though, so I can't be a shamed of that. It, it, it kinda is what it is. I've learned a lot from it. I actually think it's one of the most important things to happen in my life. I think it's one of the most positive things to happen in my life. It has definitely shaped who I am. I am a firm believer in adversity and overcoming adversity and how you can experience that, you know, post traumatic growth, so to speak. And I have definitely come to realize that does make me, me, and I should not try to hide that. But of course, you know, when you're, when you're stepping into something new, you, you can't help, you know, our brains can't help but think of all the reasons why we shouldn't bring this up, you know, all the negative stories that we tell ourselves that, oh, it's going to be too embarrassing. And people are going to think, you know, I'm an idiot or people are gonna think, I don't know anything when I'm talking about, and I have experienced the exact opposite, you know, to, to what you're talking about. So many people have continued to reach out to me with their own gambling addiction stories and or other type of substance abuse, addiction stories. So I did a, I did an interview with Bigger Pockets, last year. And I remember when the episode was released, I woke up to about 50 DMs messages, emails from strangers, basically sharing that just from them hearing the story that it just released, encouraged them to, to face their gambling and or other type of addiction challenges. And that's what kind of solidified to me like, okay, nodr I need to talk about this because I didn't go on the podcast necessarily thinking that was going to be the outcome, but that ended up being what it was. Other people saw inspiration and an opportunity to turn things around in their own lives. And I think if we can talk about these things more, I mean, I continued to be amazed at, at how many people are going through similar things, but they too are thinking they're the only ones that are kind of going through it.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (21:15):

Ambus, that kind of leads me to another question. Did you receive help to overcome your gambling addiction?

Ambus Hunter IV (21:22):

I didn't. And it's interesting because any casino you go to, you know, they definitely have resources of, if you believe you have a gambling addiction, you know, call XYZ phone number that has always been available, but I did not reach out for help. And that's kind of like my stubborn nature in genera., It's like a good, it's like a blessing and a curse. I, when I was going through it and I kinda identified, I had a problem, I was like, I'm not going to tell anyone about this. I'm not going to advertise this. I am going to silently fix this. And when people ask me why I can't hang out, I'm just going to tell them, I just don't feel like it, whatever the case may be at that time, I just didn't want anyone to know. I would have probably welcomed help or support on some level, but I was dealing with my own level of just embarrassment and shame. So I kind of just wanted to silently work the plan.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (22:13):

And there are professionals then I guess this is a question for you. Are there professionals that help individuals and affected families with gambling addiction? And if so, what are they?

Ambus Hunter IV (22:23):

Yes. And that's actually something I haven't spent a lot of time kind of digging into, but there are resources out there. There are, you know, probably in every major area, some type of addiction center. You know, I know where I live here in Baltimore county, in the Baltimore city area, there, there are addiction centers that help people with gambling addiction. And I've seen, I've seen some billboards. It's kind of one of those things. Once you go through something and now you start seeing it. So I've been seeing like addiction billboards and, you know, gambling addiction, billboards, which is a great thing. It's a, it's a positive thing to remind people that you don't have to go through these things alone.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (22:59):

Right. And I don't think that everyone has that sheer willpower or should have that sheer willpower just to overcome it themselves. I've worked a lot with, in an EAP type setting, with people that have addictions or other mental health concerns. And so I've worked very closely with psychologists and social workers. And at least from my experience, what I found, not necessarily with gambling addiction, but alcohol addiction, drug addiction, other things that you had to address the addiction itself before I could really do a good job at focusing on the financial issues or mental health issues. I kind of call it a trifecta where we had to focus on that addiction before we're really able to get to the heart and meat of the mental or the financial health beyond the way in your personal experience and your experience with clients. Have you found this to be the same, or do you find that there's a hierarchy for help?

Ambus Hunter IV (23:51):

Yeah. In my experience, I do think dealing with, trying to get to the root of the addiction first is important because you have to figure out what's kind of fueling the behavior and, you know, to give you a good example, a friend of mine from college, after she found out about my gambling addiction, she reached out to me about a gambling addiction that she's currently going through. And, you know, just talking with her about the financial impacts and the consequences, it became extremely clear that if she doesn't get to the root of the addiction and kind of solve, you know, work to solve that issue first, everything else, really, it just really doesn't matter. You know, because it it'll, you'll, you'll just continue to, you know, as they say, throw money down the drain type of thing. So all the, all the infographics and all the compound growth charts and, you know, all that stuff just doesn't matter when you're, when you're dealing with an addiction that is literally eating up your money. I mean, it just, it just is. So I absolutely think you have to get to the root of the problem and not to say that necessarily have to solve the gambling addiction, but helping someone get to the root of the problem and not being aware of what's going on and the implications, those steps have to be in place before you can really be talking about money. It's just not going to stick in my, my experience.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (25:14):

Absolutely. And I think too, that we have to be very careful with talking about overcoming it through charts or graphs, or I don't know, strong will or whatever the case may be. Addiction has been shown to actually be a part of your brain to be a part of your make up. And so for some, it's not just about sheer willpower, it's about getting the help and resources. Sometimes in mental health, we talk about medication or whatever that may be. I think that's true for addiction as well that they need to get that help. And that source, the other question I have for you on addiction is it sounded like you were ready to change. Do you find that that's true for clients that they have to be ready to change themselves? And no one from the outside is going to be able to do that for them.

Ambus Hunter IV (26:00):

In my experience? Yes. And I won't say that is the case for everyone, but in my personal experience and in the individuals that I've helped with money on a variety of different issues, they had to get to a point where they were ready. You know, one of the, one of the clients I have through the AFCPE Coordinated Assistance Network program through, you know, with COVID, this particular gentleman, I mean, he had been going through a year of behaviors that were not necessarily serving him, but it wasn't until he kind of came to that point of, I need to make a change. You know, it wouldn't have made a difference if I would've met him six months ago, it probably wouldn't have mattered. The actions, the positive actions would not have stuck. He was not mentally at that point where he was ready to make a change. So I do think that is a key element, was definitely a key element for me. If anyone tried to stop me gambling earlier in the process, I would have wrote them off. Right. I would have, I would have justified because you can justify anything in your mind. So I would have just said, no, it's fine. I can stop anytime. I want, I just enjoy this. This is just my fun. That's just my hobby. I would have thought of all sorts of things. But until I kind of hit that point where I was realizing, oh, I'm like losing myself here. I got to get back on track. Until I had that realization, nothing was going to change for the better.

Rebecca Wiggins (27:27):

Okay. So going back to your practice or your career a little bit, what brought you, or how did you find the AFC® and how has that expanded your career focus?

Ambus Hunter IV (27:38):

Yeah, so back in 2017, when I started volunteering as a financial educator, I think after about six to eight months, I just started thinking, Hmm, okay. I do like this. I, you know, I've tested this out, I enjoy it. And my point of contact was, uh, her name was Renee McElroy. Actually, I believe she's a AFC herself. And I just asked her, you know, is there, are there like any programs that I can do or certifications? And she was like, oh, well, you know, there's the AFC program through AFCPE. And I had never heard of that, you know, and I think that's the case for a lot of individuals. If you, aren't kind of in that space, you just may not be aware of some of those things. So I wasn't aware of the program. And then I looked into the program and I'm like, oh, this is great. I definitely be into this. And that's what kind of led me down the AFC journey. So this would have been three years ago, 2018, and deciding to go for, for the AFC. And it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. Because one thing I'll say about the AFC is you get exposed to, and you learn so much that goes beyond the numbers. You know, like as far as just working with people and communicating with people in different types of people, different types of backgrounds and, and being aware of cultural implications and, you know, disability implications and just all these different elements of people and, and, and different perspectives to me has been so positive for me and for my business, because I do, I, it equips you like nothing else. So for me, the AFC journey has been a positive one. And I think it has enhanced my ability to understand people and see people and just make, from my end, making a strong effort to, to understand where they are coming from in their life. Because like have a story, you have a story, everybody has a story, and everyone has had their, their challenges and setbacks and, and things that have kind of shaped them. And you need to be able to understand that.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (29:52):

Yeah. I am curious too, how are you set up to work with your clients, I guess I'm assuming that most of your clients come to you because of the connection of addiction, or do you get clients all over the spectrum? Just tell us a little bit more about your business and at a high level, how it operates.

Ambus Hunter IV (30:11):

I tend to get clients from all over the spectrum, to be honest with you. The gambling and the addiction side is actually not a large influence on the individuals that I've been working with, to be quite honest. I think, and I think a lot of that is because I'm very much into the stock market. I'm always talking about the stock market. I love the stock market. I'm very outspoken about the stock market on social media. And I, what I actually think people see as people see me talking about this, this thing that a lot of people have an interest in. So a lot of people will come to me trying to learn more about the stock market. And I've done a fair amount of, you know, investment education, because that's kind of, you know, that's kind of one of my passions and that's one of the ways I've, I've been able to build a strong amount of wealth. So they see that they understand that I, that, that I've had some setbacks in my life. So that becomes, you know, kind of a jumping off point. So that's typically how people find me just out on social media, yapping away about the stock market. And, you know, I've done one-on-one coaching because occasionally I'll run into people in the area that, you know, I can meet with them in per, in person. Of course, before COVID. Zoom coaching, we've done some, I've done some phone coaching, quite a bit of phone coaching. So it kind of just depends on what they're looking for and what I'm able to quite frankly provide for them. Because of course, like everybody, sometimes people come to you for situations that I'm just not the best person for them. So, you know, I have to manage that as well, but outside of the coaching and, you know, one-on-one counseling, I do speaking engagements and I run, I run a blog and I do newsletters and I'm, I'm shifting into more of online content because I'm realizing that that's really what I enjoy. I do enjoy working with people, but I'm, I'm really getting into video and using voice and, and just trying to reach people as many people as I can to talk about money values and building a relationship with money. You know, through the perspective of this is what I experienced, these are some would probably some of the similar things that you're experiencing, and this is how you can learn to strengthen your individual relationship with money in the same ways that I had to learn

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (32:34):

You know, that's very interesting. You're like many of the other private practitioners that we've had on this podcast and that you have multiple focus points that you're doing many different things. You're not just seeing clients, but you're speaking, you've got blog, you've got multiple avenues that you're working on to keep your practice lively and thriving. You mentioned something earlier, too, that you talk a lot about the stock market on social media. You recently led a discussion about liability and the RIA issue for financial counselors and coaches. Tell us more about the importance of being registered and what that means for coaches and counselors.

Ambus Hunter IV (33:12):

Yeah. This is an important topic because it's something that's going to continue to come up. And really my motivation for even doing that particular event where I was speaking about that was that, you know, I get questions about the stock market all the time. And I have just had to learn through my own experience and research that I have to be very, very careful, but I also like want to make sure I'm helping people and like, what is the best way to help them? And sometimes the best way is I can, I can pivot and just, you know, broad educate them. Sometimes I can't, and don't answer a certain questions and it's more of, you know, helping them to understand who are these other individuals, other professionals that might be the better place for them to go. So I think as, as AFCs just, you know, being aware of your interests in your strengths, if you have an interest in, in the, you know, you feel like the stock market is something you love to talk about, you know, maybe you need to go down the path of getting registered. If that's, if that's going to be an element of your particular practice. I think there was plenty of coaches out there where that's not necessarily an element of their practice and they kind of, you know, maybe they just don't reach that particular topic, or they defer to other financial professionals, investment advisors and CFPs®, if that's where the conversation needs to go. So I think, you know, for, for those out there that have a interest and a passion in the stock market and educating individuals on the stock market, do a lot of research into what is, and is not allowed, kind of take an assessment of what it is that you want to talk about and the types of things you are talking about, and if that's actually crossing the line and if you need to get registered you know, go right, go get registered. If you need to become a CFP, go, go add that to your list of things, to do what I love about where we at right now kind of in society is that there's so many, there's so many avenues to learn, and there's so many avenues to grow and, and aspire, and just to continue to, to become more and more educated. And like many of you interview those that have AFCs and CFPs and FFC®, and you know, all these different designations and certifications. I mean, what a time to be alive. It's great. I mean, it's great that you can just go learn these things and just, if you need to add this, then go at it. If you need to get registered, go get registered. And I don't look at it as a, as a negative thing or a frustrating like, oh, I can't talk about this unless I go get registered. I choose to look at it like that's an opportunity to go learn more and to grow and step into something new in order to expand your platform and your business.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (35:52):

Absolutely. And you mentioned a lot of credentials there and just keeping in mind that just having your credential does not mean you are registered. What we mean by registered is specifically registration, most likely with the state and each state defines specifically investment advice differently. So while you're in Maryland and your state defines it in its way, it's important that whoever's listening to this podcast now that they're very aware of how their state securities office defines registration and what the needs are, because it can be different. And it's very important if you're talking about investments or stock market or anything of any point that you, like you said, you're very, very aware of what that is and what that means. And that just by having the credential does not also include, or mean that you are registered, that is an additional step.

Ambus Hunter IV (36:40):

That was an interesting part too of my research was like, oh yeah, all the differences, you know, between states, very, very, it's a very, very interesting topic and something that people need to be aware of. If you, if you do plan to have clients in different states and you know, all those different requirements, it's a lot to consume. It's a lot to look into, but I think once you kind of get the ball rolling and look into it, a lot of it makes sense and, you know, if that's what you need to do, then that's what you need to do.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (37:08):

And for any listeners out there that are wondering about this, we do have an earlier podcast that we do talk about registration and what it means. And we will link that in the show notes as well.

Rebecca Wiggins (37:18):

Okay. So at the end of each interview Ambus, I feel like we could talk with you for a while about lots of different things here, but at the end, we like to get the guests two cents or your biggest takeaways for our listeners. So if you had just one piece of advice to offer, what would it be?

Ambus Hunter IV (37:34):

I kind of feel like my life and money mantra is to not center your life around accumulating money, but to center your life around, you know, building wealth and what building wealth can allow you to do. And I am just all about building wealth so I can live a balanced life of funding my values and reaching, you know, the contentment, the happiness, the satisfaction that we all want in our lives. So that is what I'm about. Not just chasing money for the sake of chasing money. I think that is a, that is destined to be a life of, of unfulfillment and not really be being disconnected. But if you can tap into what your values are and tap into the things that, you know, bring you joy and the things that put a smile on your face and building wealth, so you can fund those types of things and live that life that you desire. That is where the gold is in my opinion.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (38:36):

Well, thank you so much for your time today. And thanks for joining us on the show. Please tell our listeners Ambus where they can connect directly with you.

Ambus Hunter IV (38:45):

Thanks for having me. So I blog over at ambushunter.com. I am often on Instagram making Instagram stories and Instagram posts @ambushunter. And I am, I'm a very active tweeter, so I'm quite quite the Tweeter and that's @ambusvhunter, but honestly you can search Ambus and I'm going to be the one you find because I mean, how many other Ambus can you really find on the internet?

Rebecca Wiggins (39:12):

Thank you so much for joining us. Great discussion.

Ambus Hunter IV (39:14):

Thank you.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (39:15):

So, Rebecca, I really enjoyed speaking with Ambus. He was so vulnerable and authentic. I don't know that if I had a similar story, I'd be so willing to put it all out there, but he does. And I encourage anybody, we're putting his story, his full story in the show notes. So I'd encourage anybody to take a look at that and just really look at what he's overcome. I think my favorite part was the very end. His takeaway was don't center your life around accumulating money. And it just made me think how much he has overcome, because that was his life. Everything that he lived for during those few years was all about chasing money. And he tells you from experience, this doesn't bring you joy. It doesn't make you feel connected. And I'm hoping that by doing this podcast and recording his story, that maybe someone else out there doesn't have to follow that same path. Even if it helps just one person that is been worth it because he has overcome so much. And I know this has to be hard, not just, we talked a lot about his story, but I know this has to affect family members, parents, spouses, friends. And so if maybe it's not you that has the addiction, but it's someone you love. I would encourage those to get help as well. There is help available, not just for the person with the addiction, but for all of those support members, the family members, the spouses that are trying to love someone through an addiction, because that's a very difficult thing as well.

Rebecca Wiggins (40:47):

Yeah, that's a great point. Just making sure that, you know, like you were saying earlier, we can't change other people's behavior or get them ready to take action before they're ready, but there is, there are things you can do to support yourself so that you are in the best place to support the person who's struggling. So that's a great point. You know, I love talking with Ambus. I thought there were lots of different things about his story. You know, even just like I said, we were talking a little bit afterwards about our connection with music as an undergrad. And I loved his, the way that he brought that back to say, there's different things you can do in your life and how you can bring those loves that you first had, you know, both of us sort of experienced that loss of love with our music major and how you can still do that and bring that back in as hobbies. And he also does that with his business, how he does multiple avenues, as you said, we've heard that from other people from the private practice and the importance of doing that to really build your business. I also thought it was really important that he shared that he was a little bit nervous to talk about this and that maybe that disqualified him from being a counselor or a coach, a financial counselor or coach. But I think in fact that makes him even stronger. And, and oftentimes, as we say, is some of the beauty of what our AFC professionals provide in that human connection. So I loved that. And just remembering everyone has a story, you have a story, your clients have a story and there's real power in that.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (42:09):

Only by him sharing his story and being vulnerable, it attracts others and it allows others to be authentic and be themselves. So I agree. By him even being nervous and being willing to share so much of himself, it only opens him up to be able to share with others and other, other like-minded. I thought it was very interesting when he said not everyone in his practice, in fact, very few in his practice have a gambling addiction, but because he's been so vulnerable, I feel like there's so many people that are saying, Hey, I trust you because I know you. If you're willing to share this struggle with me than here, I'm willing to share my financial struggles with you and you can help me out of those.

Rebecca Wiggins (42:51):

Exactly. The AFC goes beyond the numbers, right. And builds that community. So I love that so much.

Outro (42:56):

So if you enjoyed the show today, please give us a rating and review and be sure to share it with a friend real money. Real experts is available wherever you listen to your podcasts.