Helping people manage their personal finances is a rewarding career. My passion and desire to find out more on the subject led me to pursue and education in finance. Of course, education and passion only get you so far. The experience working one-on-one with clients is where all the training starts to get applied. Here are six things I’ve learned from being a financial coach.
1. It’s Difficult To Tell All Your Money Secrets
Talking to a total stranger about your entire financial life is like going to the doctor, you’re putting it all out there. One can feel exposed discussing how they spend money on a Friday night or the fights they have with their spouse about money. Even though I do my best to be upfront about how serious I take confidentiality and being non-judgmental, many clients still worry I’m passing judgment on their life. I’ve learned it takes time to earn a client’s trust.
2. There’s No Drive-thru Service
It’s probably obvious from my line of work, but I’m all about saving people some money. I’d love to be able to assess a person’s financial life and give them advice in the span of an hour but most of the time, that’s not possible. Often, it takes a couple of appointments to get a clear picture of what’s going on, to be able to give good counsel. I’ve learned not all financial coaching is accomplished in one appointment.
3. Can’t Save Them All
For me, by far the most difficult part of helping people with their money is when I need to walk away from people who I know need help. Unfortunately, some people seek me out only to tell me a million reasons why my advice won’t work for them. They shoot down every possible solution and don’t have any plans to make a change. When I want to help them more than they want to help themselves, then I have to let go. It’s a waste of my time and their money. I’ve learned I can’t want a person’s financial life to be better more than they do.
4. Positivity Goes A Long Way
Attitude is everything. It’s the foundation of how you look at a situation. Some of my clients are in financial crisis, but not all. Many are doing the right things, living on less than they make, budgeting, and saving. No matter the state of their personal finances, hands down the clients that have the best results are the ones that want to change. They’re positive, proactive and willing to do the work to meet their financial goals. I’ve learned people who want more will make more happen.
5. Marriage Counseling Vs Financial Counseling
As much as I’d love to help everyone solve their problems, some of them are out of my area of expertise. Money causes a lot of marital strife, but there are also marital problems that cause money troubles. Getting to the root of money issues is sometimes impeded by what’s actually causing the problem. I’ve learned some clients need to work on marital problems before I can help them.
6. Making Money
I’m in the business of helping people, and clearly, people without money need financial help. Then there are those who have enormous debt or those who’ve lost their jobs. I could go on and on with examples of how working for free would help people out, but you get the point The thing is at some time, I have to make money. It pains me to say, but I can’t help everyone for free. I’ve learned to put limits on my pro bono work.