November 09, 2010 | By: Laurie Campbell

A question of balance. Financial coaching revisited.

Today I’d like to return to the subject of Credit Canada’s Financial Coaching Series. I wrote about it here last spring, focusing largely on the program components. Now I’d like to come at it from the personal and psychological standpoint of those who stand to benefit from it.

First, a little imagery.

Most of us have experienced that first wonderful moment as kids when with the guiding hands of a relative or friend we at last learn how to balance ourselves on a bicycle. A miracle, it seems. And soon we’re off wheeling about with a new found freedom that makes our world bigger, more fun and more promising.

Without those guiding hands, the task would have been daunting, perhaps even threatening to life and limb.

Now to me that’s as good a metaphor as any for the help many individuals later need in life to get a grip on their money and find the financial balance that’s necessary to experiencing a world free of debt worries.

And so I give you our Financial Coaching Series, which offers face-to-face money management training and ongoing personalized guidance through our stable of qualified staff.

The program’s aim is to go beyond the standard debt counselling services we provide to people in dire straits. In anywhere from six months to a year, our coaches help to improve anyone’s quality of life by making him or her a money whiz in personal and household finance.

Now, it’s important to distinguish between a “financial coach” and the term we so often hear in public discourse, a “financial advisor”. Strictly speaking, a financial advisor is concerned with how you invest your money through various financial products, not how you feel about money, create spending habits around it, and manage it on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis.

To draw a simple analogy from the field of medicine, the financial advisor is more of a surgeon, while the financial coach is more of a psychologist, though the latter also comes equipped with a lot of practical financial wisdom.

Believe me, in the world of personal money management, psychology plays a huge role. Imprints and learning from earliest youth determine the conscious and often unconscious attitudes we bring to money as adults. If the imprints and learning are flawed, trouble usually follows in varying degrees - everything from constant struggles to stay financially afloat, to out and out debt disasters.

Our financial coaches get to the root of the attitudes and practices that make for money problems, with the result that people come away from the coaching feeling liberated, for now they understand their true relationship with money and are supplied the the tools to make it an ally rather than a foe for the rest of their lives. 

I’m struck by how the program motivates people, thanks to our coaches being physically on hand and in constant communication with clients by email. The coaches work with people every step of the way providing guidance and emotional support.

It’s kind of like making a new, very smart friend, always with you in times of need – and in moments of triumph as you explore your thoughts and feelings about money, your spending habits and all the ins and outs of budgeting, saving, planning and more.

The beauty part is that people who sign up for the coaching don’t need to be good at math. All that’s needed is a willingness to partner up with someone who knows their stuff. And, yes, we do charge for the program, which provides options for individual sessions or a full year of sessions. The cost for most is affordable.

Now, people sometimes say to me, well, I’ve got money problems to begin with; I can’t afford to start spending more on a money coach. To that I simply respond with the question, “How long have you experienced money problems and how much longer do you expect them to continue?”

Truth is, and if you’ll excuse my use of the double negative, just about everyone with chronic money problems can’t afford not to learn the ropes about personal finance and change their ways, because the world isn’t going to change until you do.

When that change comes, it feels fantastic – something like freewheeling down a road as a kid on a brand new bicycle.


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