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Females and Finance: Melissa Ernst

Melissa Ernst

Meet our August Females and Finance feature: Melissa Ernst! As a co-owner and trainer at Harbor Athletic Club and Canvas Club Boxing, see what steps she takes to stay financially “fit” while constantly keeping her faith in mind.  

   *   What does “owning it” mean to you?

    Owning it is an inner sense of confidence and self-acceptance that allows you to fully pursue your passions and dreams. I believe that this is a continual process, and it looks different at every stage of life. Owning it to me ultimately means my identity is found in Christ, and I am seeking His will in my life. I’m not perfect at owning it, and it can be a real struggle sometimes as a woman in business. It is easy to start comparing yourself and your business to others. The comparison game can hold you back and stunt your growth. I’ve found an important part of owning it is resilience. There are going to be times that I fail or my plan seems to be altered, but what is most important is being able to learn and grow from each situation and move forward.

    •       Tell us about your personal and professional journey that helped you get where you are today. 

    Growing up in a family business taught me a lot at a young age. My parents included us and engaged with us. We got to see firsthand the ups and downs of a business and how to be resilient. My dad had been treated poorly many times in the health club business, so when he had the opportunity to become the boss he wanted his employees to feel valued and wanted them to be invested in our members and business. This is something we still value today. Our staff team has been one of the keys to the success of our 33-year-old business. Another thing that has helped me get to where I am today is athletics. Playing volleyball through college taught me a lot about time management, team building skills, resiliency and more. In my early twenties, I tried other business ventures and pursued other things, gaining more lessons in resiliency. I landed back at Harbor Athletic Club in 2010 when I became a co-owner. I continued to find my place in the business and in 2016, I founded Canvas Club Boxing. The heart behind Canvas Club is not only to provide a challenging and exciting workout but also to provide a confidence boost and mental release for participants. I love that there are endless life lessons to gain from the art of boxing. I am now pursuing a master’s degree in health psychology. I hope to gain a better understanding of the mind-body connection in order to better serve our clients. My faith, my mentors and a supportive community all continue to fuel my personal and professional journey.  

         *    What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about finances?

    Figure out what your goals are and what your values are. This is where the idea of “owning it” comes into play. What’s important to me is probably different than what is important to someone else. If you have an understanding of who you are and what matters to you, you can create a financial plan to help achieve your goals and stay financial “fit.” Another important lesson about finances for me is the idea that whatever I have is not coming with me when I die. I make it a priority to donate and tithe and that always helps put my monetary situation into perspective.

         *    What resources/strategies help you manage your money?

    Working with a financial planner has helped me understand my short-term and long-term goals and what I need to do to achieve them. One strategy I was told is to keep an envelope with cash that is your “fun” money for the month. Then, when the cash is gone, it’s gone. It really makes you think about where you spend your money, and what is really worth spending money on.

         *    If you could have dinner with one person (past or present), who would you choose and why?  

    Bob Goff. Bob is an author, speaker, former lawyer and social justice advocate who inspires me daily. His book “Love Does” made me evaluate how I live and how I serve others. He encourages others to dream bigger and love greater. I would love to sit down and have a conversation with him and hear more about some of his inspiring stories like how he became an honorary consul for the Republic of Uganda. Bob lives in grace and walks in love.