A Money Coach in Canada

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She was young and gorgeous, earns crazy-crazy money and has nothing to show for it. She knows there are definitely ‘issues’ about money. She approached me in my role as money coach, and asked the searching question, “I’ve tried a lot of things, to gain control. What if, after my time with you, nothing really changes?”

What a penetrating question. And I could offer no real guarantees, because although as a coach I lead people through a distinct process – some of it dealing with technical issues (eg. creating a sane strategy to handle debt), some of it dealing with the softer side of emotions and money – the fact is, I simply offer the tools and resources. I cannot promise that the combination of my offerings, and the person’s desire and ability to change, will necessarily ‘take’. It usually does, and I have oodles of testimonials to that effect. But not always.

It’s hard, as a money coach, when you feel you’ve put your best out there, but the client for whatever reason isn’t able to move forward.

My question is: what do you think has been the key to real changes you’ve personally experienced in your habits/way of handling a particular issue?

and coaches/counsellors: how do you measure your effectiveness, and gauge when you need to sharpen your skills versus leaving responsibility for change with the client?

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About the Author


Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

11 Comments

  1. how does real change occur?

    of course, whole books have been written about this.

    and this is such an interesting question that i think i’ll dedicate a blog post to it next week. thanks for the inspiration!

    in the meantime, i’d like to offer the idea that the “change agent” is the person themselves. the counsellor/coach/teacher/mentor can only be a catalyst.

    perhaps something like this is behind your client’s question:

    “i’ve tried so much, and it never works. i don’t want to get up my hopes anymore.”
    “i know it’ll take a huge amount of energy to change. i’m really not sure i have it.”
    “i want to have more savings (or investments, or whatever) but i really can’t see myself giving up the things i’m buying with the money right now.”
    “yes, change would be a good idea. but i have no idea how to start.”
    “change frightens me.”
    “to be honest, i think i know what’s behind how i deal with money right now. and it’s not pretty. thinking or talking about it would – crush me.”

    [Reply]

    Sep 08, 2007
  2. Hmm. I really don’t think there is a key change. I think it just has to do with whether or not you’re in that head space. I come from a family of financially savvy people and I struggle with their financial advice and I keep on telling them, you’re too advanced for me for what I am mentally and emotionally capable of right now. One day it just clicked that I should learn for myself and I did. You just have to be in the right frame of mind to accept the information and to emotionally accept the change as well. Perhaps it can be summed up with maturity?

    [Reply]

    Sep 08, 2007
  3. On making change and breaking habits:
    I was remembering what happened when I quit smoking years ago; moving from “reform” to “transform”.

    First there were the “shoulds” – all those external messages about health, cost, etc.. I tried a few times and the resolve would always disappear, followed by a rationalization that just one cigarette wouldn’t really make any difference.

    Then there came a day when I experienced something very negative about smoking. I hated the taste, I hated how it made me feel – both physically and emotionally. then came the resolve, almost an internal snap. “I’m not doing this anymore!” And I never did.

    As coaches, our clients often approach us when they want to reform something, and chances are they will eventually lose their resolve, unless we are able to help them shift. It is they who must transform, it is we who ask the right questions to move them from the external to the internal. In the end, it’s a question of wanting versus choosing.

    [Reply]

    Sep 10, 2007
  4. What great questions Nancy!!

    In my own experience real change comes from a deep internal commitment to make it. Outside influences can certainly be a factor, providing inspiration or motivation, but the conscious choice required to make change and make it stick can only come from within.

    As a coach the dance between improving my skill and leaving responsibility with a client is constant. I often ask myself if there is a better way to have my clients recognise how their beliefs are affecting their current reality. With each person it is different. Some have embraced the awareness that the the way they see things and the actions they take shape their world, others still need to wake up to this. I guess that’s why we call it a coaching practice.

    [Reply]

    Sep 10, 2007
  5. what insightful comments. Thanks!
    Isabella – some of your questions may turn into part of my initial interview process! As I read them, I can specifically think of a couple clients who, I bet, were inwardly saying exactly one or more of those thoughts.

    Mariam – I sure know what you mean. When I initially started my own process with money, I could only find financial planners. I needed the basics! Like how to simply track my spending etc. Financial planners were so far beyond me, and I didn’t even understand half the lingo (I do now, lol!) It was intimidating.

    LA – tx for joining the discussion! I know exactly what you mean about ‘internal snap’. I wonder if there is a way we could turn on that snap at will. I’m being serious — you know how we can induce bio changes in our body (slowing heart etc) — I wonder if there is a way we could tap into that snap-connected-to-resolve.

    Lynn – I love your phrase “others still need to wake up to this”. It helps me to think of gentleness and process – I hope that with the clients I’ve had who would not say, ‘yes, I spent X amount of time with nancy, and just look at the results!’ — maybe in 2, 10, 18 years, they’ll have their ‘snap’ and look back at their time with me as nudges in a good direction.

    [Reply]

    Sep 10, 2007
  6. LA, your words about reforming versus transforming ring so true. ideally, we/our clients would want to not just “fix” a problem but transform a whole set of beliefs and habits. elizabeth kasl, one of the leading experts on transformational learning, calls it a change in “habits of being.”

    another interesting idea in this connection is the concept of moving from problem solving to creating solutions.

    [Reply]

    Sep 11, 2007
  7. A few years back I presented material on “making change” to a group of unemployed persons. Basics of change include: a natural process (aging); experienced differently by people – some love change, others very resistant to it; change is gradual – happens without paying much notice; for some it is self-initiated – a person has control over the change; others it is externally imposed – somebody else or circumstance has control over and makes the change.

    There has been extensive research done on stages of change: (1) Precontemplative: have little if any desire to change; (2) Contemplative: phase of ambivalence, thinking consciously about change but concerned how change might threaten things you’re use to; (3) Preparation: ambivalence is dissolving, or dissolved, but action is still not happening – making plans to change behavior, perhaps trying it out, but on an inconsistent basis; (4) Action: you’re actively attempting to and practicing change but you need tools, know-how, support and trust, (5) Maintenance: you’ve reached this level when successful changes are maintained and slips or relapses into old patterns are handled responsibly and constructively. Keeping at the change, so that it is becoming a habit and requires less work. Perhaps all of the above is commonly known.

    [Reply]

    Sep 17, 2007
  8. Charles – thanks for your comment! I actually go over this exact process – stages of change – with my clients. I consulted in-depth with both a PhD pyschologist and also a dietition about the process. State 3 is particularly crucial — this can be a stage where we set unrealistic expectations, and in our gung-ho-ness set ourselves up for problems by being overly ambitious. For example: I’m going to really cut down on my spending, and get rid of my debt in 1 year! ..and the first 4 months are great. the 5th month? not so much. And then by month 7, things are just as bad as ever, with the added sense of failure. So – shameless self-promotion – this is a stage when it’s critical to have another person – pro or friend – to help create a sustainable, real-world plan for dealing with the issue at hand. And ultimately, we reach stage 5 – long term, sustained change.

    [Reply]

    Sep 17, 2007
  9. Hello Nancy!! It’s taken me some time to respond to this thread, but I’m ready to jump in NOW. As a Life Coach, I’m aware (sometimes painfully) that it is absolutely necessary to allow answers to come from the client. Trouble is, often people are unaware of their own answers. We all harbour unconscious beliefs and hold on to “unhelpful” emotions. When it comes to money, some of those beliefs might be : ” good people don’t make alot of money”,” people without a degree don’t make money”, etc. The emotions might run from “fear of financial success “to “anger and resentment towards others who are more successful”. And if we’re not even aware of what’s holding us back, it’s pretty hard to make progress.

    In the past year, I’ve discovered a coaching tool that’s making a tremendous difference in my work and my life! By neatly combining accupressure and affirmations, Emotional Freedom Technique can really get to the bottom of the issues that limit us. Not only that, it can also reduce or eliminate their impact , so we’re free to focus on what really serves us (like a healthy bank account and a great income).

    The founder of EFT has a wonderful website http://www.emofree.com with lots of free information. And for the time being, I AM OFFERING FREE SESSIONS ! (anyone who’s interested can contact me by email-I’ve been successfully conducting sessions by phone-and I will call them!) EFT is something that often works “when nothing else has”.

    [Reply]

    Oct 01, 2007

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