In 2010, she held her company's 10th annual conference in Eureka Springs.
"I wanted everybody to see my new home town," Garrett said.
Garrett is the founder of the Garrett Planning Network, and one of three financial advisory pioneers featured in the August 2012 issue of "SmartMoney" magazine. Last week, she talked about why she moved to Eureka Springs, and the new direction her life is taking here.
"I wanted to live in a place where I could really plant roots," she said.
Garrett, who grew up in Emporia, Kansas, moved to Eureka Springs from Shawnee Mission in the Kansas City metro area, where she started out in the financial planning business in the mid-1980s. She was 24 and had a degree from Friends University in Wichita but little experience in the field, which was male-dominated. She also worked for a pension consulting firm, then bought into a wealth-management partnership that dealt with high net-worth clients.
"I grew up a regular, middle American," she said. "I really like working with regular people. In my prior practice, we didn't do that. I decided I wanted to become that outlet."
What she created: a network of financial advisors who offer practical financial advice to people from all walks of life. The Garrett Planning Network now has 325 members across the country and a few overseas, Garrett said. Some are semi-retired people who work part-time. All work on an hourly fee basis, not sales commission, as independent affiliates, with Garrett acting as mentor and spokesperson. She has also written six books, including "Personal Finance Workbook for Dummies," and co-authored "Money Without Matrimony: An Unmarried Couple's Guide to Financial Security."
Her goal: To show people how to be savvy about their money and avoid stupid decisions.
"You have to separate emotions from decision-making," she said.
Being financially independent has been an interest since Garrett was eight years old and got her first paying job at a neighbor's flower shop and nursery. Garrett followed Mr. Brown, the owner, around until he said, "Honey, do you want a job?" and hired her to weed, water and fill peat pots. As she grew up, Garrett took on every odd job and household chore that came her way, and at one time, had four different jobs.
"I learned early that if you work, you will be rewarded," Garrett said. "I like to be rewarded."
She also played basketball in high school, which is how she first came to Eureka Springs -- the coach had a cabin in Cassville and brought the team down to Eureka Springs to see the sights.
"I fell in love with it back then," Garrett said.
When she made her move to the area in 2008, she lived on Beaver Lake, where she joined the Grassy Knob volunteer fire department as a traffic director. In 2010, she moved into town because she needed more internet band width. Garrett likes the fact that she can walk two blocks to the center of town, and enjoys the food, the festivals and free outdoor concerts.
"I tell people, 'In Eureka, it's not 'What would you like for dinner?' it's 'What kind of music would you like to go with your dinner?'" she said.
Garrett said that even before she moved here, she promoted Eureka Springs as a travel destination, and recommended the area as a reasonably-priced retirement haven -- it has a a temperate climate, and an airport, hospital and university are close by. She also likes the fact that Eureka Springs is surrounded by lakes, forests and mountains.
"It's a breath of fresh air for a kid from Kansas," Garrett said.
She does have to travel -- in addition to mentoring affiliates and doing media tours, she worked with the House Subcommittee on Financial Security to curb predatory lending practices and testified before Congress on Social Security reform. But she enjoys the drive back from the airport in Rogers because it gives her a chance to unwind.
"I hit the ground in Northwest Arkansas, walk 100 yards to the parking lot, hop in the car and start driving," Garrett said. "The first half of the way, there's some traffic, then I get into Carroll County. All of a sudden it's beautiful, it's hills.
"It's truly an amazing transition, going from the hectic hubub back to the natural world."
Now that she's found her way to Eureka Springs, Garrett is looking forward to another lifestyle change: slowing down her work load so she can focus on being a parent. Six years ago, when she still lived in the Kansas City area, Garrett started the process of applying to adopt a child.
Last week, she found out that she is at the top of the list of prospective parents.
"I'm waiting for a phone call that says, 'Sheryl, you're going to China to pick up your daughter,'" Garrett said.
Raising a family in a front-porch community where you know your neighbors and the children graduate from high school with the same kids they went to kindergarten with -- that's her idea of a hometown.
"I like to call it 'Funky Mayberry,'" she said.
For more information about the Garrett Planning Network, go to www.garrettplanningnetwork.com.