We are taught from an early age that money doesn’t equal happiness, and that’s generally true.
But when we think about money, we generally want to know a few things: How can I make more? How can I keep from losing it? How can I be a better investor? How can I best manage my life, financial and otherwise, so that my family and I can live a healthy, worry-free life?
These are big questions, often uncomfortable questions, but they must be asked. And answered.
We’re fortunate to be a highly educated and informed society, but regardless of what we know, or what your education prepares you to do, most Americans need help with money. Why? Because our educational system has failed to realize that “money skills” are something every student from K to 12, and the graduates of higher education, should possess.
Whether it’s your inability to balance your checking account, your feeling of helplessness when your credit score is plunging, the terror you experience as you watch your 401(k) balance plummet, or on the flip side, you believe you’re smarter than the market, even when your returns are regularly in the tank, these are signs that you may need a money coach.
Many people don’t recognize the warning signs that they should seek help organizing and optimizing their financial life. Others may be so embarrassed by their financial situation that they avoid seeking the help that can get their life turned around.
If any of this strikes a chord with you, you may be a candidate for money coaching, so to get the juices flowing, here’s a short and incomplete list of warning signs that professional money coaching may be a solution for you.
- You’ve not set clearly defined and articulated goals. “I want to be rich,” is not a goal, it’s a wish. “I want to accumulate $1 million before I retire in 28 years. I make $80,000 a year, so I will need to save $10,000 a year at a 7.5% desired rate of return.” Now, that’s a goal.
- You don’t know what you own, you don’t know what you spend. This is big. You need to know where you are so you can get where you want to go, right? A Personal Income Statement (how much you earn minus how much you spend) and a Personal Balance Sheet (assets you own minus how much debt you have equals your net worth).
You don’t know what you own, you don’t know what you spend.
These two statements will give you an accurate snapshot of your current condition.
- You’re saving less than 10% of your earned income.
- You don’t follow a financial plan because you don’t have one. Savings, investing, emergency funds, insurance, reducing debt, raising your credit score, tax minimization, retirement preparedness, having a will…all part of a cohesive plan. Be honest: did you wince after reading one or more of these? Don’t worry, most people do. Time to get help.
- You skipped the free money window! In other words, you are not participating in your employer sponsored 401(k) that matches your contributions. This is a huge mistake, and one that can be rectified easily.
- You don’t know the best ways to have your money make you money for you. It’s not about the “best investments,” it’s about the “best investments for you.” Big difference.
- Once you’ve made money, you don’t know how to keep it. Making money is half the battle. Keeping it is key to your future financial health.
- You lose invested money. You continue to do the same things, and you lose money again. A qualified, credentialed coach can help you break this destructive cycle.
- Handling money can be scary and overwhelming. We all have biases and behaviors that determine how well we handle money. These inherent biases often allow us to succeed with money, but too often they manifest in potentially damaging behaviors.
Handling money can be scary and overwhelming.
An experienced, credentialed coach can plug that drain so you can make smarter, informed decisions about your overall financial wellness. When it comes to money, we all have the potential to be our own worst enemy. Low financial literacy, bad habits and wonky behavior will kill even the best laid plans.
- Your IQ is higher than your credit score. There are steps you can take to improve your credit score that will pay dividends in your overall financial health.
- You think CDs are a safe investment. If you are reading this the day of publication, CDs are paying less than 1%, but inflation is running at 7% (or more). This makes every dollar in your CD worth about 94 cents. CDs may be “secure,” but they’re not inherently “safe.”
- You keep making the same mistakes. You want a coach to help you avoid costly mistakes, and most experienced money coaches have made those same mistakes. It’s called “earning your stripes the hard way,” and hard knocks are the best teachers of all. If you work with an adviser, coach or planner that hasn’t made mistakes, fire them!
- You have a difficult time visualizing and understanding the four necessary elements to a beneficial money coaching relationship, namely: Historical Context (the past), Daily Events (the present), Forecasts (the future), and most importantly, Your Personal Info (critical, first-hand life experiences, behaviors and biases).
To enjoy a productive and collaborative coaching relationship, these four elements each require examination in the context of two worlds: the world at large and your world.
The signs that you may need a money coach are virtually unlimited, and the signs from your own life may surprise you, and this list of 13 (a really ominous number, I admit!), is simply a starter list; broad, general strokes to get you thinking.