If you go
Motorcycle Mary's financial seminar, sponsored by the United Way of Douglas County as part of its Day of Action outreach, will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday at Crown Automotive, 33rd and Iowa streets.
About this story
Micki Chestnut is communications director for the United Way of Douglas County, which provides occasional features spotlighting local volunteers and charities supported by the United Way.
Reeling as her fourth marriage ended in divorce, her 16-year-old daughter fought to be legally emancipated, and her finances were such a mess she was struggling to pay rent, 42-year old Mary McCune slouched onto the bar stool she visited so often that she knew all the bartenders’ names. She grabbed a cocktail napkin and scratched out a list of the five things she needed to change if she wanted to turn around the downward spiral of her life.
“I realized that if I died tonight, I’m going to be known as a drug-ridden, alcoholic sun-of-a-gun, and I’m a better person than that,” McCune said as she looked back on that fateful night several decades ago, when she hit rock bottom and started a brilliant bounce back.
One of the goals inked on that cocktail napkin was: “Your finances are a mess, and you need somebody to help you.”
Now McCune, aka Motorcycle Mary, is that “somebody” for the hundreds of people each year who attend her Motorcycle Mary financial seminars. On Saturday, she will roar into Lawrence and present a free workshop that is part stand-up comedy routine, part cautionary tale, part nuts-and-bolts training on how to manage your money to get what you want out of life. The seminar, sponsored by the United Way of Douglas County as part of its Day of Action outreach, will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday at Crown Automotive, 33rd and Iowa streets.
The United Way Day of Action will also include a citywide healthy food drive to benefit Food Pantry Partners Just Food, Salvation Army and Ballard Community Services, and a United Way BrainFood children’s book drive to collect books for low-income elementary students.
McCune knows how hard it is for people who are struggling to make ends meet to get practical financial advice. On her quest to tackle her own debt, she met with financial planners who launched in to lofty discussions about stocks and bonds and retirement plans. “I just wanted to be able to buy groceries without writing a stinking, hot check,” McCune recounted. “People make money discussions so scary. The way I teach it hits people in the heart, in a way they understand it.”
The audiences for McCune’s one-on-one counseling services and workshops range from banking executives and law firms to folks working the line in manufacturing plants. “I can help anybody who is trying to keep a little more of their hard-earned money in their pocket, and what I teach affects people at every income level. It doesn’t matter how much money you make: If you can’t control it, you haven’t got squat.”
McCune’s edgy and provocative production is laced with laugh-out-loud humor and piercing stories about her own journey from financial failure to freedom.
“When I first get on the stage, I look like a middle-aged, middle-spread woman to people. But by the end of the seminar, I look like the goddess of financial hope,” quipped this self-described Kindergarten Teacher of Personal Finance.
One story is about how she earned the moniker Motorcycle Mary, a yarn about the very first of many bad financial decisions she made. As a 19-year-old, she co-signed a loan on a motorcycle for a friend who had bad credit. He never made a payment on the chopper. So McCune and her band of big brothers repossessed it. That bike took her on many a crazy journey.
One night, when she was working as a bartender, a guy shouted out, “Hey Motorcycle Mary, get me a brew!”
“The name stuck like glue, and that’s how everyone knew me, so I figured, I might as well go with it,” she shared.
Doors open at 2:00, and hot popcorn and cold lemonade will be served before McCune takes the state at 2:30. The seminar is free and everyone is invited. Drop-ins are welcomed, but if possible, please register ahead at www.unitedwaydgco.org.