My Adventures

Why Our Relationship with Money is Important?

Money is complicated issue. In a culture where success is measured by wealth, it’s easy to transpose our self-worth with our net worth.  This confusion can fuel low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence if you’re not a ‘bajillionaire.’

Money is also the number one stressor in people’s lives– studies show that 3 out of 4 Americans include  money at the top of the stress list.  Interestingly enough, in my work as a financial coach I have found that financial problems and issues have less to do with how much money you have and more to do with how you feel about money. Negative feelings can lead to negative outcomes.

Some people may even view money as the enemy if they feel undeserving or feel they will never have enough. The resulting stress makes it easy to blame life’s problems on money and choose to avoid it or think that all your  problems can be solved by money.  This perspective reflects money disorders that create more challenges than anything.

RESTRUCTURING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY.

Our relationship with money evolves over our lifetime. From a very young age our influences can come from our parents, family, and community, regardless of whether money was discussed or avoided, or whether felt safe and protected.

As we grow older, our friends, colleagues and partners start to become major influencers in our relationship with money. At this point, social influences through television and other media become a major contributor in our relationship with money, fueling consumerism and feelings of ‘not enoughness.’.

The more we understand our relationship with money through better understanding where and why our thoughts, feelings and beliefs around money come from, the more likely we are to become aware of our  core beliefs and implement healthier financial habits

DEVELOPING HEALTHIER FINANCIAL HABITS

Our financial behavior is an outcome of our relationship with money. Your financial behavior determines your circumstances which in turn determine your financial health.

As we begin to unravel your relationship with money, discover your money stories and evaluate your core values and shift the perspective of exclusively budgets and spending plans, we can begin to focus on healthy financial habits that help you focus on what’s important to you.

What Financial Tools Do I Use?

For the past 50+ years, I believed myself to be a logical person. Numbers always came easy to me (fitting the Asian stereotype, but it wasn’t until I discovered Microsoft Excel that my world changed I thought I could live my life looking through the algorithms I created in each and every cell. While this skill set is invaluable and has provided me with a tremendous amount of benefit over the years, I’ve recently come to realize that there are other areas of my life that could benefit from deeper awareness.

I have since come to learn that we are truly emotional beings, and while we often think we can make logical decisions based on spreadsheets and formulas, in reality, most of our decisions are emotional. Some of the key works that inspired this understanding was Antonio Damsio, Carl Jung on Emotion, and Gerald Zaltman Harvard Business School.

This understanding exploded my worldview and led me down this current path to help others better understand their relationship around money. While some of this work does happen on a spreadsheet, the deeper work is about finding how we can move towards a healthy relationship with the key element that cuts across our daily lives – money.

We Start with Personal Values

My initial focus will be around these emotions and our “money stories” – those first stories we heard about money (See/read: Bari Tessler). Which of these sounds familiar: ‘money doesn’t grow on trees;’ ‘I’ve never been good with money;’ or ‘my spouse takes care of that.’ Whatever your personal money story is, these money stories have created the foundation to how we interact with money, and before we can even begin looking over the details of your expenses, we want to better understand our values around money and if there are any areas that we can improve upon and lay a new foundation to how you deal with money.

Going Deep into Income and Expenses

Once we establish your core values, we will look at and review your income and expenses in detail. This is the work of learning where your money goes. You have to touch and track EVERY EXPENSE and become intimate with this process. There really is no way around this and you have to be ready to get your hands dirty and sometimes deal with less than pleasant things, but this is the process to a better and more conscious consumer. But you will also learn to conceptualize your income in terms of the value you provide to the community, your company, and beyond.

Learning to Love your Balance Sheet

The last tool I use is the Balance Sheet. It’s simple Assets minus Liabilities statement, but we track it with an eye towards improvement – and this looks different for everyone. You may be going from -$10,000 to -$3,000, or it may be creating efficiencies and evaluating risk tolerances in a million-dollar investment portfolio. Improving your balance sheet is the long-term goal of any financial plan. But this goes beyond finances too, and I will often discuss non-money items that may be a part of the balance sheet, like [example] and [example].

Bringing it Together: Lifestyle Design

The last piece of the financial puzzle, and one that is especially important to me, is Lifestyle Design. My hope is that at the end of the process we understand the importance of money as a tool in life to get us where we want to go. Furthermore, we’ll look at other goals that are not necessarily money based. I’m a firm believer in life balance and focusing on the things you were born to do.

By aligning your environment and your income priorities with your core values, you may find a congruency in your life that will leave you happier, more fulfilled, and hopefully with an exponentially larger number of opportunities and ideas to pursue in your life.

Financial Coaching Topics Covered

In my Personal finance coaching practice, we’ll cover a lot of ground on both financial and personal topics. Here I will share some of the key topics that we’ll focus on to improve your financial well-being.  

Emergency Funding

More than 60% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings, and 8 out of 10 people live paycheck-to-paycheck. As a financial coach I can help clarify the risks, recommend a level of emergency fund savings and create a plan to help you reach your needs and savings goals – achieving the first step toward removing stress from your financial situation.

Budgeting and Cashflow

Budgeting is a simple process, but not necessarily easy to implement! Just putting a budget together can be a challenge, especially without any guidance or tools. As a financial coach I have the resources and experience to help you develop a budget so that you can tell your money where to go and make sure that expenses line up with your priorities and values.

Debt Management and Elimination

Debt and debt-related payments are often one of the largest expenses in someone’s cash flow planning and the biggest obstacle preventing people from becoming financially secure. Having a plan to pay down the debt, and ultimately eliminate it from your life, is the key to not only being financially secure, but achieving your preferred work life balance.

Saving for your Dreams

Too many people have not yet taken the time to map out their goals and intentions, and even fewer have worked with a financial professional to help make the plan. As a financial coach I can help clarify these goals, align them with your priorities and values, and create the foundation to achieve your dreams.

Investment Topics Education

As a financial coach I cannot recommend specific investments, but I can help educate you on different types of investment plans based on your needs and income level, whether you choose a 401k, Roth-IRA, 529, etc. I can also cover historical performance of different asset classes – small cap stocks, international, bonds, real estate, and other asset classes. I can explain diversification, risk, dollar-cost-averaging, and all the common investment topics that investors should know. I can also help you understand your specific investment options in your 401k plan and help you easily find information to make the best choices for your situation.

Understanding Insurance

Some people are underinsured and some even over insured, which could be a financial risk or a burden.  As a financial coach I can walk you through the different types of insurance whether it be whole life, term, disability and even long-term care insurance. I can help you understand your options so that you can make smart decisions to mitigate risk and help you gain the skills so that insurance sales people don’t take advantage of you.

Real Estate         

How does real estate work? What are the advantages or disadvantages to owning real estate? Should I buy, or should I rent?  As basic as homeownership is, there are a lot of details surrounding real estate. Whether a real estate purchase is a primary residence or an investment property, I can walk you through the details to make sure you understand both the benefits of owning real estate… and the challenges.

And if you are already a homeowner, it’s important to look at mortgages as part of your planning. Should I pay off my mortgage early, or take out a home equity line of credit?  Mortgages can be a great tool for growing your wealth if used correctly. I will be able to walk you through the details so that you can make the decision that is best for you.

Understanding how money works is crucial to determining what is best for you, and a financial coach can help you gain better understanding of the financial world, get clarity on what works best for your specific life situation, and help you move forward with confidence.

Is Financial Coaching For You?

Financial coaching is ideal for people who have realized that their financial situation isn’t quite in the place where they know it should be, and they want someone to help walk alongside them to guide them to becoming financially secure and a conscious consumer.

Understand that engaging with me as your financial coach is going to take work. Gathering and tracking your personal information and understanding your relationship with money will take time and effort.

What financial coaching is NOT

Financial coaching is NOT managing your investment portfolio. If you want someone to manage your investments and your money for you, then you need an investment advisor and not a financial coach. I have been an investment advisor in the past, but to receive compensation and make investment recommendations requires that you be licensed by the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission).
Managing investments doesn’t need to be overly complex (in fact, complexity often lowers returns), so the average person can handle their own investments, but if you have a large enough investment portfolio and the money to pay for full-time investment management, there are professionals who can do that for you.

A financial coach and investment advisor are quite complimentary to each other because a coach can help give an unbiased perspective and teach you what you need to know to be a good investment client.
My objective as your financial coach is to: 1) help you understand and navigate all the options available so that you can make the best educated decision for your finances and situation.

A financial coach doesn’t do all the work for you

If you want to hand all of your documents and paperwork to someone and have them create a plan for you, then you might want a financial planner. Just like athletes who need to do the work to be successful, I can’t do the work for you, YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK.

A financial coach cannot perform miracles

If you want a quick and easy fix or a get-rich quick scheme, this isn’t for you. There maybe some suggestions that will have an immediate positive impact on your financial situation, but achieving true financial freedom takes time. Getting out of debt and building wealth is not a sprint activity but more of a marathon.

Is Financial Coaching Right for Me?

Financial coaching isn’t for everyone but may benefit most people.
If you are a true do-it-yourself person who is financially savvy and has been managing your own budget and investments for years and have struck a balance between finances and your core values, then financial coaching might not be necessary for you.

If you are like most people who don’t have the time or interest to research financial topics and integrate those topics on your own, and you would like to accelerate your financial success, having a financial coach expand your understanding while supporting and encouraging your success, can be very beneficial.

What is a Personal Finance Coach?

Financial coaching is a confidential, judgment-free relationship with a personal finance expert to help you address current and immediate issues and then map out actions needed to accomplish your financial goals. As a personal finance coach, I will help you clarify your goals and values and help you align your priorities to achieve those goals. While my main focus surrounds your financial condition, I can also support you on career, real estate, estate planning, insurance, and other topics.

Just as athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs often utilize coaches to improve themselves and their ventures, a financial coach will help individuals and families improve their personal financial situation through education, guidance, and accountability.

What is the difference between a financial coach and a financial advisor?

For a traditional financial advisor and its commission-based roots, to the Assets Under Management model, and more recently the hourly/retainer models, the challenge is that the focus is on the FINANCIAL ADVISOR EITHER SELLING YOU A PRODUCT OR REAPING A COMMISSION from managing your assets.

The reality is that for most people, their needs for financial advice are focused on issues like credit card debt, building an emergency fund, or just understanding their income and expense for the first time. The challenges are divided between financial literacy and forming good financial habits around spending. Neither of these subjects are part of the typical engagement with a financial advisor.

Another important difference is that financial coaches are not licensed to provide financial advice like financial advisors (I gave up my series 7 and 66 when I left Merrill Lynch), and therefore cannot provide specific product recommendations. Financial coaches can provide conceptual advice on investing, but they cannot recommend how to allocate your assets. They can suggest saving money in a high-interest savings account, but they can’t recommend a particular account.

Financial coaching also differs from advising in that financial coaching tends to be a limited time arrangement, with the goal of helping the client to achieve financial literacy and learn to manage their own finances. A financial advisor is incentivised in keeping the relationship and continually selling financial products or managing your assets.

Ultimately, the key point is to recognize that financial coaching is emerging as a distinct service from traditional financial advisors, and one that reaches a distinct clientele who have been grossly underserved by the financial advisor marketplace.

What makes a good financial coach?

A financial coach has the best interests of the client at the center of the engagement.

A financial coach takes the time to understand the clients’ specific situation, works with them to clarify concerns, goals, and dreams, and then makes sure all discussions are in the context of the client’s personal priorities and values.

A financial coach should not sell any third-party products like investments or insurance. There is nothing wrong with those products, but your financial coach should have no financial incentive to recommend any specific financial and provide unbiased guidance.

A financial coach has life experiences that he/she has specifically learned from, and corrected, past mistakes. No one is perfect and challenges in the past can make a financial coach more understanding and compassionate. A financial coach should be a model for clients and have their own financial house in order.

You don’t need to $250,000 in investable assets to work with a financial coach. In fact, most clients are in debt, have little in savings and have poor spending habits.

Perhaps you’ve tried to make a budget, but just can’t stick to it…. maybe you make enough money, but can’t figure out how to build an emergency savings fund…. or maybe you have so much debt between credit cards and loans that you don’t know the best way to pay it off.

A financial coach can help you structure your budget, build a financial plan and hold you accountable throughout the process. Often, clients have deep-seated emotions around money. Financial coaches help their clients to identify, understand and work through those emotions and ultimately create a plan around your success.

If you feel that some or any of these challenges may be a part of your relationship with money, then it may be beneficial for you to engage with a financial coach so that you can more effectively move forward.