Update: March, 2020 - Well, it looks like the recession has arrived suddenly! With the Coronavirus/COVID19 pandemic currently sweeping the world, I put together a FREE Financial Crisis Survival Guide (blog post with available printable PDF) to help those of you either preparing for or responding to a cut in hours, layoff or termination.
Here's the blog post for the guide: Financial Crisis Survival Guide (Version: COVID19) Blog Post Version
Here's the free downloadable PDF version of the guide: Financial Crisis Survival Guide (Version: COVID19) Downloadable PDF version
When you are in the process of eliminating debt, you just might be in that in-between stage of 'self-coaching' and wondering if a 'little help' might just get you to where you want to be.
Or, maybe you're stuck on a certain debt elimination step and have some questions about how to navigate through it.
My intent here is not to try and convince you that you need coaching. Ultimately, only you know that.
Rather, the contents of this post are intended to give you an idea of our initial interactions with clients to help you gauge where you are and if it might be a good time to enlist the help of a financial coach.
Chances are, you may be able to continue down the DIY (Do It Yourself) path and that's great, please indulge in all the free resources this blog provides.
But just in case you think you might need some coaching, here's what that typically looks like.
When someone reaches out for financial coaching, it can be for a variety of reasons, but it's usually because they need help on one or all of these four main areas:
1) A Plan - They need help putting plan together to get out of debt (we use the "8 Steps To Erase Debt" guide).
2) A Budget - They need help putting together a workable/realistic budget.
3) They're Stuck - They have questions and/or need accountability to help them stay on their plan and
4) They Need Encouragement - They need hope that they can work through their mess and encouragement to keep going.
Budgeting is usually the very first step we take with a new student. In order to help them put a plan together, we need to assess where they are.
Writing down an initial budget is a great way to produce a "snapshot" of where they are at this moment in time. It's also a great benchmark for progress as they move through the steps.
As you may have experienced by now, budgeting can be a little overwhelming when first starting out, so it can typically require a little bit of hand holding and maybe some external accountability in the first 90 days.
Consider that budgeting is a 'skill' that has to be developed and not a natural 'talent' that most of us have.
This is why that first attempt can be so painful.
After the initial "getting started" phase, clients are typically looking for how to handle specific situations and exceptions (i.e. how do I budget for quarterly or annual expenses or how do I budget when I have an irregular income?).
A coach can help remove the gray areas and keep you moving forward.
The third reason people reach out to a coach (injecting hope) is present on some level in every situation.
We love the fact that we can come alongside our students and inject enormous amounts of hope just by educating, encouraging and providing accountability.
When someone initially reaches out to me, we schedule a 30 minute Zoom call to learn more details about their situation.
I also want to see if coaching is even really a valid option for them at this point.
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Either scenario is okay.
During that call, we’ll talk through their current household income, debts, family make up, job situations, side hustles and overall goals they’re trying to accomplish.
At the end of the call, if we both (meaning the client and the coach) agree that coaching is the next step, we'll go ahead and schedule a meeting to go more in depth.
Maybe just a nudge in the right direction. Maybe a complete course correction.
Many times, the initial call is just with one of the spouses. That could mean that one person is much more eager to get help in eliminating debt and wants to get some help.
And, if the opposing spouse is not yet on board with this idea, it can potentially cause some conflict.
If there is already high stress and relational conflict, the other spouse may feel like they're being "ganged up" on by their spouse and potential coach.
As such, we always offer a follow up 10-15 minute consultation with both spouses so that the other person can:
1) be introduced to the coach,
2) understand the process and
3) be assured that the coach's role (Biblically) is to facilitate a plan that will better their financial health while simultaneously promoting marital unity.
In other words, we're here to help both of you together and not to take sides or "gang up" on anyone.
The only effective way for couples to climb out of a financial mess is to join forces and become an impenetrable unit.
So, while we don’t necessarily perform “marriage counseling” there is certainly an element of marital counseling involved in our coaching as money and finances can tend to be outward indicators of deeper issues.
Once the individual or couple has decided that coaching is the next step, we schedule an initial coaching session.
The initial meeting is really a time for us to:
1) get to know one another
2) dive into the details of the current situation
3) talk about where they want to end up and
4) put together a 5-10 step action item list for them to walk away from the meeting with.
5) Schedule a follow-up "check-in" interaction/call/meeting.
Sometimes the client feels that a follow up meeting or meetings is in order for the purposes of continuing ed or accountability.
In those cases we can put together a plan for that with reasonable recurrences in alignment with their goals.
The key is to cover as much ground as is reasonable in each session. We want to infuse both knowledge and hope into the current situation and to give the client as much accountability as they need.
So, that’s a brief overview of how we engage in coaching. If you have questions, we begin the process with a 10-15 minute assessment. This is to see if coaching is really what you need.
If so, we schedule a session. If not, we point you to some additional resources to help you get to where you want to be.
Either way, we’re here to help you get out of debt.
Back in 2004, I went through Dave Ramsey's, Financial Peace University (FPU) and read his book, Total Money Makeover after the fortunate intersection of 1) hearing him on the radio and then 2) someone giving me a CD of one of his talks.
These were game changing resources for me.
In 2004, my horrid money habits and a recent career change found me in $43,000 of debt. This consisted of both consumer and second mortgage debt.
To say that there was more month left at the end of the money would be a gross understatement.
I was broke and utterly hopeless, when I discovered this material and subsequently immersed myself in it.
As a result, I was able to eliminate all of my debt in just two and half years. I go into more detail of that part of my story here.
Once my debt was gone, I found myself fostering this growing passion to help other people do what I did.
I immediately became an informal coach for friends and family. I started helping them navigate the process of budgeting and debt elimination using the same tools I did.
Man, I was immediately hooked on coaching! There really is nothing like the thrill of helping people get their arms around this stuff.
In January of 2017, after coaching for about a decade, I went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Coach training. My intent was to train as well as to become more "official" AND effective.
Years of helping people get out of debt continued to infuse a passion for coaching. I had basically turned it into a side hustle/ministry. So, the training really helped me formalize my own coaching process and interactions with clients.
Dave Ramsey Master Certified Financial Coach Certificate
At this point, my wife (Angelica) and I have helped over 500 individuals, families and businesses eliminate debt. And we're thrilled to reach many many more with the help of this platform.
So, the question is, how can we help you? There are lots of free resources intended to be mini-coaching sessions for you. Please binge and self-coach all you like and let us know what's working.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!