For a fee, money coaches help their clients get on top of their finances, whether they're struggling to pay off lingering student loan debt or resisting the urge to splurge on every new Apple product. They're generally not trained as investor advisors or financial planners, but they take a holistic approach to better money management. We tracked down some of the most in-demand money coaches from around the country and asked them to share their strategies that help them cultivate a thriving financial life. Here are six of their best-kept secrets:
Think big. Todd Tresidder, a financial coach in Reno, Nevada, and creator of financialmentor.com, says he would far prefer to spend his money on experiences, like camping with his kids, than new gizmos and gadgets. That's why he takes three months off every summer to travel, hike and camp with his children. "You have to align your spending with your values," he says, and that's largely about structuring your life in a way that reflects your long-term goals. It might be hard to give up your daily $4 coffee through self-discipline alone, but focusing instead on reaching a long-term goal of building a healthy nest egg, for example, can make it easier to give up the gourmet caffeine.
"The wealth game is 80 percent habit and routine and only 20 percent technical expertise. Most people think it's about getting a hot stock tip, but it's not," Tresidder says. Changing money habits are similar to adopting better eating habits, he adds. "If you shift your awareness of consciousness around food and nutrition, then you naturally shift your diet because you want different food," he says. Likewise, becoming more aware of your goals and values helps you naturally change your everyday spending patterns.
Have a spend-free day. Dominique Broadway, a personal finance coach and former stock broker now based in Washington, D.C., says she schedules two days a week when she doesn't spend any money at all. "The small spending that we do throughout the day, like picking up coffee, paying for parking or going to happy hour can really add up," she says, so for her, skipping it for two days can translate into $40 savings a week or more.
Conduct a morning review. Every morning before starting her day, Broadway pulls up her bank account online and reviews it so she can get a sense of her progress. Regular reviews also help relieve any anxiety from the routine, she says, which is one reason she encourages her clients to adopt this habit, and she often does it with them by phone.
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Take a latte break. Mikelann Valterra, a Seattle-based financial recovery coach, says she never lets herself shop for more than 90 minutes before she breaks for a latte. Yes, a latte -- it turns out that sometimes, spending the $4 on an upscale cup of joe can end up saving you even more cash. "It allows me to take a breather and see what I've purchased," she says, adding that she takes the time to review her spending plan for the month, too, which is a strategy that helps her stay within her budget. The break stops her from getting swept into the danger zone of mindless spending that can come at the end of a long shopping trip. "I get grounded, regroup and then finish shopping," Valterra says. "It really curbs that mindless spending and I enjoy my day more."
Listen to your body. Your body might know more about your money than you do. Bari Tessler Linden, a money coach based in Boulder, Colorado, often starts her money classes and sessions with a physical check-in. She encourages her clients to close their eyes and observe their body. Knowing they're about to talk finances, are certain muscles tensing up already? Is their body already resisting part of the conversation? That can be the first sign that the client needs to zero in on an issue he or she has been putting off, such as a large piece of debt or a difficult conversation about spending with their partner.
Tessler Linden frequently gives herself these kind of check-ins, too. On a recent trip to a car dealership where she and her family were deciding whether or not to buy a new car, she found herself feeling overwhelmed with the decision. So she escaped to the dealership's bathroom to be by herself and conduct a body check-in, which helped her come to the conclusion that purchasing the car was actually the best financial choice for her family.
[Read: Do You Need to Heal a 'Money Shame?']Choose your words well.
Money coach Kate Northrup gets her clients to replace traditional words for money tasks like "bill paying" or "life insurance" with more appealing ones, such as "payment for blessings already received" or "floating parachute," to help them overcome resistance to dealing with them. To make difficult tasks even more appealing, she also recommends drinking out of fine stemware and donning a favorite outfit to help turn financial planning into a self-care night. She refers to her own weekly financial routine as "financial freedom Fridays."
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