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Working To Clarify Your Concerns &

Empower Your Financial Future

Learn How

Welcome to Empowered Financial Strategies

Serving the Emerald Coast of Florida & Virtually Nationwide

Our guess is you are here because you have financial questions!

If you are anything like us, you also missed the class in school that taught financial literacy.

Maybe a friend referred you to us because they had a great experience.

No matter how you got here, we’re glad you are and hope we can add value to your life.

We Believe You Deserve the Right

To Have Someone Help Guide You Financially

The financial world can be intimidating and scary. There is a lot of information and so much of it only benefits the delivering entity, not necessarily you. It is often not personal or tailored to the needs of your family and your desires for the future. There must be something better and we hope you will think you have found it here.

Twenty-three years ago, our President and Lead Planner, Melissa Hines, went through a version of the planning process herself. Melissa benefitted from the experience so much, she decided to make a major career change a few years later.

She evolved from a client to a credentialed financial strategist, then to the founder of her own firm, Empowered Financial Strategies. 

We know you would never choose a financial planner from a website. So take your time, browse around, and if you like what you see click, below to set up a 30-minute call with Melissa.

If at the end of that 30 minutes you have a better understanding of the value we could bring to your world, you may want to start the process of financial empowerment for your own family.  

Schedule a Complimentary 30-MINUTE Call

Not Quite Ready To Schedule a Call?

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What’s the Process?

Let's talk about how this works

Getting Started

At Empowered Financial Strategies, we believe that no one’s plan should be like their neighbor's or co-worker's. Everyone is unique and their plan should be as well.

Our Process Is Custom-Built for Each Client.

Here’s an Outline of What You Can Expect:

Step 1

We call this the Ask the Advisor Anything Call!

We will use this time to answer your questions and to get to know each other a bit. We call ourselves the “abnormal financial strategists” and we want you to know why! It is important to remember that every plan is different and never should be cookie cutter. We ask you to tell us about your life, family, and what is important financially to you.  Of course, we want to know all your questions.!  In turn, you will learn about us, our philosophy, and the real nuts and bolts of the process. 

Step 2

Establish Your Benchmark 

The next critical step is to first understand where you currently stand financially. We call this Your Benchmark.  This requires gathering information and data.  You can begin to organize this data if you want to speed up the process, but we will talk about it more during our opening meeting. 

Step 3

Protection First

Confirming proper lawsuit protection with your car and home insurance is something you would not expect to cover in a financial strategy session but that is where we start - ALWAYS.  Why do we start there?  Without addressing this first, assets could be taken in a lawsuit from a car accident and future wages could be garnished.  Focusing on wealth before proper protection is in place would be like putting on your shoes before your socks.  We must do things in the proper order.

Step 4

Analysis of Assets & Debt Structure

Now we start looking under the hood to see if your financial engine is functioning at optimum efficiency, If not, it is our job to make recommendations of the best financial strategies designed specifically for you. From those recommendations, you will be empowered to choose the options that best suits your needs. Remember, this is your plan, not ours!  Working together, we hope to make your dreams become a reality. 

Step 5

Long-Term Guidance

Over time, we will monitor your progress and check in regularly to review and adjust your plan based on any life events or changes that occur. This will be done at least yearly and will include: 

  • Review of your progress via our BenchMark Form. 
  • Recommitment or adjustment to your financial strategy if there have been bumps or detours in the road. 
  • Explore new options for financial growth.
  • Readdress any existing debts that you are eliminating and continue to do so in the most efficient way possible.  
  • Learn how you have reset “Your Number”.
  • Regain clarity on all things financial and move forward in a positive way.


We are so glad you’re here and are continuing to review our website. You dipped your toe in the water and we think that is great! The first step to financial empowerment is finding the right team for you.

If We Decide To Work Together,

We Will Make the Following Commitments to You:

Protection First

First things first!! Before we set the course for financial wealth, we MUST ensure that all assets are properly lawsuit protected.   


We commit to initially meeting with you three to four times depending on the complexity of your financial life and provide you with the vision of a strong financial future.  After the initial process is completed, we will meet at least yearly for review.  

Brighter Future

We will challenge traditional financial thinking and offer a refreshingly new approach to financial decision-making. Within 30 to 60 days, you should feel empowered about your financial future.  In addition, our clients tell us they appreciate breathing that sigh of relief that things are organized and in good order.  


This is critical in today's day and time.  We provide full confidentiality of both our conversations and your personal data. No one will even know you are our client unless you tell them!


Did you have the class in school that taught you how to properly plan your finances? No?  Well, you are not alone! We provide that information that will enable you to make empowered decisions.  The result is peace of mind for the future and less worry.     

Fun Environment!!

Yes, we strive to make financial planning fun! Our clients can attest to this really happening throughout their partnership with us.  It doesn't have to be dull and boring!

If We Decide To Work Together,

We Ask That You Make the Following Commitments to Us:


Full disclosure of your current financial situation is critical for us to do our best work. A list of data needed can be found here.


Financial planning may be handled by one member of the family, but the best financial plans should be understood and implemented by you as a couple, so we ask that you both attend all meetings. We will do everything in our power to keep these meetings concise, fun, and informative.

Meeting Time Commitment

We believe that agreeing to the initial 2 to 3 meetings is very important to the success of your future financial life. We also believe that timing is everything. You will never sign a contract with us and you never make a check out to us. You have total control of this process,  This is your plan.  You are in the driver's seat.  If now isn’t the right time for you, we look forward to working with you when the timing is better.

Data Gathering

Before we can help you build a greater future, we must first establish where you are today financially. We call that your BenchMark. To establish your BenchMark, we will need some data. You will find the list below.

Once you have it ready, let us know and we will provide you with a secure portal via email.

Also, please be assured that your documents will be professionally safeguarded under strict confidentiality.

To Begin This Process, Please Provide the Following:

  • Automobile Insurance Policies
  • Homeowner/Renters Insurance Policies
  • Umbrella Liability Policy
  • Social Security Yearly Statement
  • Two Most Recent Pay Stubs From Current Employer(s) for You and Your Spouse
  • Estimation of Monthly Living Expenses
  • All Estate Documents: Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, Living Will, Health Directive
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Disability Income Policies
  • Company Provided Benefit Plan Documents for You and Your Spouse (Medical, 401(k), etc.)
  • Account Statements for Any Investments: Savings, IRAs, TSPs, 401(k), Annuities, Brokerage Accounts, Mutual Funds, Stocks, etc.
  • Last Two Years of Tax Returns
  • Statements of Debt: Home, Second Home, Rental Property, Autos, Credit Cards, School Loans, etc.

Have Any Questions?

Contact Us

Get To Know

Empowered Financial Strategies

About Our Team

A financial plan should NOT be cookie-cutter. Are you are looking for a team who will take the time to really listen, answer your questions and empower you to achieve YOUR goals and dreams in ways you never imagined? If so, you have come to the right place.

Schedule Time With Us

Meet Our Founder Photo Meet Our Founder Hover Photo

Meet Our Founder

Lead Financial Planner
Read Bio
Melissa Hines

Meet Our Founder & Lead Financial Planner

Melissa Hines has over 19 years of experience helping clients understand that there should be a specific order of decisions to reach their full financial potential and then set in place a plan to make their wishes come true. As a client first, she had so much to learn. She was fortunate to have many great mentors during her first 5 years in the business. Even with a true love for this business, her study of her craft does not stop. There are ongoing seminars and study groups all over the country that help her hone her craft. This financial world changes so quickly. It is imperative that Melissa and your support team at EFS keep up with current trends, laws, rules and product options.

Previously, Melissa owned her own very successful business for 17 years and spent 7 years prior in the corporate world. This gives her quite an insight when helping business owners, corporate executives and individuals all over the United States.

Also 19 years ago, she was introduced to a man named Jay Wachsmuth. Jay had lived in Chicago all his life. Melissa teasingly said to him, “Well, now that I’m in Florida I’m not moving to cold Chicago! If you want to date me you will have to move to Florida!” That next year, Jay moved to Florida, and they married in 2006. They now live happily ever after in Niceville, Fl.

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Meet Our Client Relations Specialist

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Cheri Johnson

Meet Our Client Relations Specialist

Cheri Johnson began working with Melissa in 2005. Yes, that’s right she was just a baby with no babies of her own. When Cheri and Melissa first talked, she and her husband, Larry, were driving back home to Niceville, where Larry would be taking a new job. Melissa had known her parents for several years and was happy to have Cheri join our team. Cheri jumped right in with both feet and the clients immediately fell in love with her. Her effervescent spirit and her desire to help others made her a perfect fit in the firm.

Now 16 years later, she and Larry have two beautiful children and although Larry took a wonderful job in Jacksonville several years ago, we didn’t let Cheri go. With secure, remote access, our IT department was able to set her up with remote access so she can be with Larry and the kids but also with us and all our clients. We are honored to have Cheri on our team and know you will enjoy working with her as well.

Meet Our Chief of Staff Photo Meet Our Chief of Staff Hover Photo

Meet Our Chief of Staff

Operations & Technology Officer
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Jay Wachmuth

Meet Our Chief of Staff – Operations & Technology Officer

Jay Wachmuth joined the firm in 2020. He had owned several businesses since moving to Florida from Chicago (yes, he misses the pizza and the Italian beef but remember, Melissa wouldn’t move to Chicago!) but has always been interested in the planning business. Melissa always wanted him to join the firm but you know that thing about husband and wife working together. Well, in 2020 he decided he wanted to sit for his license to become a team member at EFS. And what an asset he is.

Having owned an IT business for the last 10 years, he is the head guru to keep your data safe and secure. In addition, he also takes care of so many behind-the-scenes details from maintaining the Benchmark Form process to making sure your process runs smoothly. His presence will allow our firm to grow this year while still giving our exemplary service to our clients. Welcome aboard, Jay.  

Mission Statement

At Empowered Financial Strategies, we aim to guide our clients to feel more financially organized and live their lives without worry. With a strategic, personalized plan we’ll show you how to reach your goals plus be there to answer questions along the way. Knowledge will provide understanding in how to achieve greater confidence in your financial decisions - both today and in the future.

Our Mission Is You

We were founded as a fiduciary to help clients and business owners take control of their finances. To that end, we create holistic and customized solutions to help our clients feel empowered to achieve their financial goals.

Does This Resonate With You?

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Giving Back

We feel that giving back to our community is so vital in today's world. Just as we strive to help our clients feel secure, we also wish to help those less fortunate know that they are loved. Please share with us an organization that needs our help.

A Bed 4 Me Foundation
Bike MS
Impact100 Northwest Florida

Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation
Hope Squad
The Children's Neighborhood


We Are Here To Give

You Answers

Through questions and conversations, we all learn and become empowered. That's why we encourage you to bring all your questions when we meet.  These are examples of some of the questions clients bring to that first meeting.  

Note: You'll notice there are no answers listed for these questions here.  It is because the answers can from person to person as well as they should. This is not a cookie-cutter financial services firm. Together let's explore the answers that best meet your situation when we meet.

  • Life is just so busy. How do we even start on a financial plan and get organized?
  • How much should we be saving and where is the best place to store it?
  • Everyone says we should max out our 401k, IRA, or Roth. Is that true?
  • Can a lawsuit from a car accident really take our assets away?
  • Should we pay off all our debt before starting to save?
  • How can we legally reduce our tax bill?
  • Should we have a 15-year or 30-year mortgage and is now a good time for re-fi?
  • Should I always pay cash for a car?
  • How do I save for my children’s college education?
  • Should I be worried about inflation?
  • How can I protect my family but not pay too much for all my insurance products?
  • Should I pay off my house?
  • How about a budget? It’s so hard. Can you make it easier?
  • The market seems scary right now. What options do we have?
  • I’m in my 60’s. When should I start Social Security?
  • For heaven’s sake, when can I retire!?

This Is Just the Beginning

Continue the Conversation

Finding Your Number

Instead of Budgets,

We Focus on Finding Your Number

The word “budget” can invoke a negative, almost “less than” feeling. That’s why at EFS, we talk about a spending plan, cash flow plan or, better yet, finding your family’s “number”!

Many of our clients want to hone their skills when it comes to knowing how their money is being used on a monthly basis. We have developed a system called "Finding your Number." This has been a game-changer for many of our clients. We look forward to delving into that subject if you are interested.

Let’s Connect

Have More Questions? Let's Set Up a Call.

We are located in Destin, Florida, we’re able to work with you remotely, anywhere in the U.S. If you would like to learn more about us and the opportunity to work together, give us a call or fill out the form below or schedule an introductory meeting.

Refer Us

Does someone you know

need to be introduced to

Empowered Financial Strategies?

We strive every day to provide you with an exemplary experience, and we hope you sharing our name with someone you care about means that you feel empowered by this process.  

We Thank You In Advance For Sharing Our Name

NOTE:  Please don't refer us until we have met your expectations.  After that...yes, please!

You May Be Asking,

How Should I Refer You? Here Are Some Tips:

  • We suggest you don't mention the specifics of the plan we designed for you. Their needs could be very different from yours.
  • Instead, encourage them to connect with us for 15-30 minutes! We feel confident that even a short chat will have them wanting to learn more about how we can truly help them.
  • To follow up on your conversation, you may want to send them an email or a text.
It might sound something like this:

Hi friend, remember the financial advisor I was telling you about? I suggest you set up a 30-minute complimentary call with her.  I think after that chat you will want to hear more, but if not, you have only lost 30 minutes!!

Her name is Melissa Hines
 Number: 850. 585.7123
Email: melissahines@efsplan.com

Have questions??

Contact Us