C is for Coaching. It probably seems a little self-serving, since I’m a financial coach. While I do think that more should seek out services like mine, the truth is we each should have somebody in our life that we trust to guide and urge us on to be better, especially in the area of money. Sadly, too few of us do.
For some reason, our money – more than almost any other issue in our lives – is not to be discussed with other people. It’s taboo. We talk about personal relationship issues, health issues, spiritual issues, addictions to pornography and drugs, but we don’t talk about money.
– Russ Crosson, The Truth About Money Lies.
So, how do you find a money coach?
- Think about your money. How are you struggling? What do you want to change? Coaches can only help you make progress if you’ve thought about the direction you’re trying to go.
- Speak up about it. Being open about your need gives others the opportunity to bless you with options you might not have been aware of.
- Learn more. We’re living in an age of information. Take advantage of books, videos, and podcasts. Find out what kinds of money management classes and seminars are being offered in your area. Also, read the Bible. The books of Proverbs and the teachings of Jesus are full of valuable lessons about money.
- Act. The more you expose yourself to sound money principles, and the more you surround yourself with like-minded people, the sooner you’ll find a coach. Maybe it’s that millionaire that looks nothing like a millionaire – or the teacher of the money management class you’re taking – or a pastor. Buy them lunch, and ask for help.
You might decide that hiring a financial coach is your best answer. It’s worth paying to get results because your heart follows your money. If you spend it on knowledge and accountability, then you’ll put your heart into it.
Where do you go for great money advice? And who’s holding you accountable with your saving and spending? Anyone have a good word for Z? Let me know in the comments below!
I’m starting a new series of posts today. I’m calling it the “ABCs of Personal Finance.” The word for the letter A is Action, because succeeding with money in your home requires action. Your financial situation isn’t going to get any better while you sit idly by and ignore it. So, it’s time to get moving and make some changes. Ready?
- INCOME – GET TO WORK. Everything worth doing is going to be hard and take a lot of effort. If you want a career that gives you a sense of purpose and pays you well, you’re going to have to take action.
- Truth: Any job that you can get with a 10 minute interview in a booth at a fast food restaurant is unlikely to pay a lot, and will never be a great career. If you want a bigger paycheck, you have to make yourself more appealing to better employers, and that takes work.
- First Step: Start Reading. Read books written by the best in the business you want to be in. Read classic business books. Read books about how to get a better job.
- BUDGET – MAKE A PLAN. Having any income is great, but paychecks have a nasty tendency of looking bigger than they actually are, and spending more than we make has become a national crisis. Planning is an essential part of winning. Even if this month’s budget fails, you learn and fix what failed next month. If you’re not budgeting, you’ve robbed yourself of that opportunity to improve. Take action and give every dollar you make a purpose.
- First Step: Write out your necessities. Know the difference between “need to pay” and “nice to have.”
- GROW – SET GOALS. Once the income is coming in and the bills are all covered, it’s tempting to breathe easy and relax. That might work, if all you ever want to do is just cover the bills. If you have bigger dreams, if you ever want something more than what you have right now, you have to make conscious decisions about how to get there and set some goals. You have to take action.
- First Step: Answer this question: What would you do if someone handed you a million dollars?
- FIGHT – DON’T GIVE UP. Remember, everything worth doing will be hard and take a lot of effort. It’s going to be tough, but as long as you’re breathing, there is always hope.
- That job may be all you can get right now, but it’s not forever.
- That budget may be so tight it scares you, but it’s a start.
- That goal may seem so out of reach, but you’re still growing.
What do you think? What parts of your finances could use a little less conversation and a little more action? Did I cover it all or miss something important? And what should be my word for X? Let me know in the comments below!
When you’re first beginning the process of trying to take control of your finances, it can be totally overwhelming. In a world as complicated as ours, you find yourself having to juggle so many payments and fees and bills that it’s hard to know where to start.
But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
1 Timothy 5:8
The right way to start is by building your financial household first. Get to know what your core basic needs are and take care of them before you worry about anything else. Unfortunately, our complicated world has begun to confuse what a need is, so let me elaborate. Basic needs can be limited to three categories, which make up our roof in the picture below.
Healthy: The stuff that keeps your family alive and in reasonably good condition. This will include groceries and any medicine your family must take. (i.e. medicines for high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic depression, and the like. My acid-reflux medication wouldn’t make this list.) It might also include health insurance and/or co-pays.
Safe: The stuff that keeps you out of the elements and a reasonable amount of security. This will include your basic utility services (such as electricity and water) and your mortgage or rent. You might want to include the cost of necessary home repairs here as well. Don’t include every possible security measure, though. No amount of money can make you 100% secure.
Productive: The stuff that keeps you generating an income and ready to work. This will include transportation, which could be a car, a bus pass, or a good pair of shoes. It will probably also include a phone of some kind. It might include Internet access and an email account, a reliable cellular phone, and a reasonable clothing budget.
In all cases, the goal is to determine a reasonable number for your basic needs. Keep your numbers realistic, and don’t overload any of the categories with fluff you really can do without. For example, a young couple, just married, probably shouldn’t be spending $800 each month for groceries. A $200 per month cell phone contract with all the bells and whistles doesn’t qualify, either. And an Xbox will never be a necessary component to maintain productivity, no matter what anyone says.
Also, you’ll have to plan for different types of expenses.
A good example of a fixed cost expense would be your mortgage or rent. It’s a bill that’s due every month, and the amount owed doesn’t change very often, if at all. They’re predictable costs, and we wish that every core item was a fixed cost expense. Unfortunately, they’re not.
A variable cost expense would be things like gasoline for your car, or your electricity bill. Each month the amount spent on this item is going to change, either because the price of the good is constantly under change (gasoline), or your use varies (electricity). The is the simplest thing to do is put down a number that represents a high average for that item that month. It’s rare that you’ll find yourself at risk of going over.
Items like car maintenance or clothing would be a non-monthly expense. It’s a cost you know will be coming eventually, and you’re socking money away for it now so it won’t break the bank later. Use a savings account and put a little aside every month for each of these types of expenses.
Making sure that you’re covering your basic needs gives your budget a foundation to build on. It shows you that, no matter what else happens, you can keep the lights on, put food on the table, and stay employed. And if you’re not covering your needs, then it’s clearly time to improve your income. Without any margin, you’ll never be able to move beyond the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck. Every dollar earned above that core is the fuel to be used for reaching financial goals, but you have to build your financial house first.
This is the form I built based around the information in this post. I’m using it to help people start getting their finances in order when they’re struggling. Feel free to share it, or this post, with others.
The total you figure from your core needs can be used as a base number for your emergency fund. How many months can you live off of your savings when you’re just taking care of your basic needs? How many months do you want it to be?