It’s no secret that financial education in this country is lacking. (I think I angrily rant about it at least once a week.) If you had any formalized teaching with respect to personal finance you’re well ahead of the majority of Americans. Most of us picked up what little we know from our parents if they were forthcoming enough to talk about the often taboo subject of money. For the rest of us, we may have felt a push to find a financial advisor to invest our assets for us, but that system has its own shortcomings. Today, however, there is a real focus on educating the consumer and helping you to understand exactly how you can take control of your finances, and this is where a money coach can really come in handy.
What Is a Money Coach?
A money coach is essentially a finance professional who can help lead and counsel you to achieve your financial goals. They best thing about a money coach is that they fill a space that traditional financial advisors often cannot. Your traditional financial advisor works for a bank or an investment company and is often paid based on the investments you make. They are licensed to manage your funds and take a percentage of your investment as their fee so it’s often hard to understand exactly how much they cost. Money coaches are often independent from such institutions and are unable to manage your funds for you. Instead, they are able to help you develop a roadmap to financial security, but it is up to you to physically move your funds to wherever they need to go.
Is a Money Coach Right for You?
A money coach is right for you if you are still in the budgeting phase of your financial journey or if you have debt you’re still trying to pay off. They can help you to form a plan and function as an accountability partner to motivate you to achieve your financial goals. In my practice as a money coach, my goal is often to get my clients to a point where they can have a productive conversation with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). That means explaining everything in an understandable way so that when my clients have their budget, debt, and an emergency savings fund in place, they can work with a CFP to diversify their additional investments should they choose to do so. By the time they walk into that meeting they should already know what investment vehicles to ask about and what to consider with each one. I want all of my clients to leave feeling that they know more about personal finance then when they started.
I also want my clients to know what they are working with and that typically starts with budgeting. If you don’t know how much you are spending, there’s no way to know how much you have left to invest.
What to Look for in a Money Coach?
There are a few important things to look for when you’re considering hiring a money coach. First, you want an independent money coach. This is someone that is unaffiliated from all banks and investment companies so that you know that you are getting unbiased advice. You also want to be sure that you know how much you are paying your money coach. A good money coach will charge a flat fee and nothing else. There should not be any hidden referral fees or commissions. You also may look for certifications such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), or a CFP. All of these professionals are required to pass certain professional exams and take regular classes to maintain their certification. As a result they tend to be held to a higher standard of knowledge and practice. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the right money coach for you should be someone you feel comfortable talking to and who does a good job explaining topics that you otherwise struggled to understand. Without the latter, you will be limiting the amount of good that can typically come from working with a money coach.
How Can You Find a Money Coach?
So if all of this is brand new to you, you may be wondering where you can even find a money coach. First, let me shamelessly admit that I offer money coaching services through Budget Babble and always love working with new clients to help educate and enhance their financial situations. Additionally, Rockstar Finance has put together a directory of money coaches that you can find here. If you think a money coach might be the right move for you, reach out. You will never regret gathering information!
Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook
Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.