Lifestyle Design

Interview: Hollis Colquhoun

I am very happy to introduce another Inspiring Women, Hollis Colquhoun, author of the Amazon Best Selling Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide.

Who is Hollis

Hollis Colquhoun is an Accredited Financial Counselor and has over twenty years of experience in the financial industry. Starting out as an institutional trader and salesperson for a Wall Street brokerage firm, she later became one of its first female partners. Hollis worked in the Corporate Bond Departments of several New York firms then moved into the distressed securities market where she helped set up a new brokerage operation for one of Wall Street’s masters of “value investing”. Three years later, Hollis stopped working to devote more time and attention to raising her three daughters. She also became very involved in local community projects and a nonprofit education foundation.

Two years ago, Hollis was hired by a nonprofit credit counseling agency and received certification as an Accredited Financial Counselor and as a Certified Personal Finance Counselor. Over a two-year period, Hollis counseled thousands of clients who were drowning in debt and in need of financial guidance. She also conducted workshops on budgeting and credit for local community organizations and New Jersey State welfare-to-work programs. Hollis lives near the Jersey Shore, and when not working with local nonprofit organizations or promoting financial education for women, she pursues her interest in martial arts. She has a black belt in both karate and taekwondo.


FCG : What are the biggest financial problems faced by women going through divorce?

HC : Too many women have not been financial partners with their husbands. This is partly because early on in a couple’s relationship there isn’t any talk about money. Before marriage the couple discusses how they each feel about having children, having a big wedding and where they want to live, but they almost never have a conversation about their individual feelings regarding money. So the majority of the time, the person making the most money ends up being the person responsible for the marital finances. Likewise, when the couple decides to raise a family, most often it is the woman who takes responsibility for child care and maintaining the household. Consequently, the woman/wife doesn’t participate in the financial decision-making and feels unattached to the household income.

Over time, if there are difficulties in the marriage many women are clueless about their marital worth, meaning they have no idea of what the marital assets and liabilities are, nor do they have a clear overall picture of the annual household cash-flow (income minus expenses). More often than not, the woman is  focused primarily on the family and children and how to protect their lifestyle, e.g. keeping the house, which isn’t usually a good financial plan. In short, during the divorce process, because of the division of labor and money in the marriage, women usually don’t have the financial knowledge and awareness necessary to make the best settlement agreement to secure their own financial future.


FCG: You wrote Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide to fit into a woman’s handbag. Why is the book made so women can keep it with them at all times?

HC: I worked as an Accredited Financial Counselor for a nonprofit credit counseling agency for 3 years. During that time I spoke to hundreds of clients, most of whom were women trying to recover from a death of a spouse or divorce. They were in serious trouble because they had no financial education, no understanding of their worth and no idea how to run the household finances. A co-counselor and I decided to write a book that would be easy-to-read, and have step-by-step instructions on how to create and maintain a budget, make a balance sheet, calculate worth, decipher credit reports,  be a savvy consumer, save for the future and know available resources. It is meant to be like a private counseling session with tips and charts to help track spending, evaluate major expenses, keep account information, set  financial goals, recognize scams, etc.

FCG: You are a mother of three daughters in their early to mid-20s. What is the most important thing you teach young women from your “F.E.S.T.” (Financial Education and Survival Training) seminar?

HC: My mission is to personally and financially empower women of all ages. It’s ideal to start the money talk as early as possible, so ever since my daughters were teenagers, they’ve been listening  (and sometimes not listening) to my financial words of wisdom. Young women need to understand the importance  of a financial education and financial planning, and I‘m not talking about specific investment strategies. It’s more the basics of knowing what an asset and a liability is, setting up a budget, and saving for themselves.  Over 75% of our country’s impoverished are elderly women because they don’t think about personal savings until the kids are grown and they’re close to retirement age; then it’s too late. In addition, over 50% of marriages end in divorce so women now spend more of their adult lives unmarried than married. Having no financial education or awareness before, during or after divorce will be very costly. It’s crucial to a woman’s financial survival that she take charge of her financial life as early as possible.


FCG: How does your passion for Karate and martial arts help you teach women about financial self-defense?

HC: Many women are insecure about their ability to financially defend  and physically protect themselves. Both techniques aren’t that hard they just require practice and some specific knowledge. Financial terminology may seems confusing and intimidating at first but the basics can be easily explained if the woman is willing. The best physical self-defense tactics are those that are easy for anyone to execute, once the technique has been practiced. As Gloria Steinem said, “Power can be taken but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment itself.”  Once a woman has the knowledge and tools to financially and personally defend herself she will become more confident and powerful, and this positive force will radiate to all aspects of her life.


FCG: I always love to ask the question, what do you do to create balance in your life?

HC: My balance comes from family,  helping others and following the tenets of Karate. For everything to be in sync – mind, body, spirit, money – I must teach and learn and always give them equal weight.

Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to interview you!

Can you Read more information about Hollis and her book at


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