Hello! I’m Traci Bakenhaster, founder & CEO of Design & Renew Career and Finance. I am a Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach, and career coach with a strong faith and passion for helping others succeed. Believe it or not, I understand what you may be going through. You’re at a loss, your finances are a mess and you feel like you’re drowning. Life has been turned upside down for you, you are stuck in a dead-end job, or one you are miserable in. Or maybe you just don’t know what career to even choose? So, why do I know what this is like? Because I have been there.

I went to a small-town school out in the country and had so many likes and interests that I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. After graduation I didn’t go to college right away. Instead I started living carelessly and making poor choices. At 20 I got pregnant, and nine months later I had a beautiful baby boy. Now with this small helpless baby depending on me, I knew I had to get my life together. So, I enrolled into Columbus State Community college (still not having a clue what I wanted to do). I ended up changing majors several times, and finally I met with a career coach who provided me with a career assessment and a plan. I finally finished my associate’s and transferred to The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business to pursue a bachelor’s in Business Administration. However, the hardship only started there.


I was getting government assistance since I was only working part-time and was in school full-time. However, when I changed jobs during my first semester at Ohio State, I lost my childcare assistance and my food stamps. I was told it was because I made $50 too much, which disqualified me. Now I was stuck with a $750/month daycare bill and $300/month grocery bill making only $23,000/year. Oh, and did I mention that I had just bought my first home a month before this happened due to the fact it was cheaper than my rent was. And buying a house is a good thing, it's an investment, an asset, much better than throwing away money at rent, right? I soon found out that was wrong, because I wasn't financially prepared for a home.

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It wasn't long before my credit cards were maxed out, and my student loan money was gone. I ended up refinancing my car to make ends meet. Then I had a $3,500 plumbing issue happen. I had no emergency savings, credit cards were maxed out, and my car money was gone. I went back to the bank and took out a home equity loan. I knew I couldn't go on like this and just had to push through until I was done with school. So, I picked up two more jobs that would work around my school schedule, still struggling to get by.


Then I discovered Dave Ramsey, it was a game changer for my finances. I learned how to budget, how to get out of debt, how to build up a savings and how to help others with their finances. All my debt has since been paid off except the student loans which my husband and I are working through together, along with his. I tell you all this because I want you to know, I get it. I know God let me go through this struggle so that I can now help those in the midst of their stress and frustration or help before this ever happens.


I know life can be tough, money is hard, and most of the country doesn’t wake up every day excited to go to their job. But I want to change that.​​ I founded Design & Renew to positively impact your future. To help you achieve your goals, to help you get out of debt and take control of your money, and for you to realize your potential, in life and career. I want you to wake up each day loving life and loving what you do.


But why the name Design & Renew? DESIGN because if you are just starting out in life, or you are in high school, or just graduating college we are going to design you a future of success, financial freedom, and happiness. If you are a little further in life, perhaps in a financial or career rut, we are going to RENEW your future through a renewing of your finances, career or maybe even just life itself. We are here to empower you to find your purpose and to live in financial freedom.

My Story

Awards & Recognition

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2020 ATHENA Emerging Leader Recipient

The ATHENA Leadership Award is presented by chambers of commerce, women's organizations and universities to a woman, or man, who demonstrates the qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model and who actively assists others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential.

Learn More at: https://www.athenainternational.org/page/athena_leadership_award

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