Sometimes people ask, “So, what do you usually do with clients?”

That’s tough to answer specifically, since each person has different needs and different ways of absorbing information. I don’t follow an exact program for every person. I don’t personally tend to get maximum growth from templates being applied to me, so I stay away from relying on a particular formula for supporting clients.

There are some elements in common that most people find helpful, and I will describe some of them here.

1) Develop and follow a monthly predictive spending plan

Making a plan before the month starts rocks the house. It’s not about “should”…what should I spend, what should I save, for example, are questions that lead nowhere for me.

What do I intend to spend with the money I have available? Now we’re talking.

2) Determine your net worth

How do I know how to get somewhere on a map if I don’t know where I’m starting? Bam. Net worth is awesome for that.

And it’s also important to distinguish between my inherent net worth as a person (priceless, natch) versus the number that indicates my financial net worth in a given point in time.

3) Identify your money influencers

We all have figured out brilliant ways to get the proverbial devils and angels on our shoulder to speak through those we invite in to our lives. I notice that sometimes people have the hardest time changing spending behaviors when they have established patterns with family or friends that seem too hard to break or adjust.

It can be extremely helpful to inventory your influences with a neutral third party. I enjoy setting up role playing conversations (for people who like doing that kind of work).

4) Get the 11 year-olds to understand

Sometimes people get taken advantage of when money is involved, because there’s this silly taboo around asking questions around financial matters. Especially if we have to ask someone to repeat it 2 or 3 times!

A rule of thumb I encourage people to use, is be able to describe every financial choice so that an 11 year-old would understand it. I’m not saying these are the most thorough definitions, but the practice definitely helps me weed out nonsense from what my money is going through.

i.e. What’s the stock market? It’s a way that people can put some money in towards helping to run a bunch of different companies, and then hopefully getting some money back in return for the reward of putting money in to begin with.

What’s a variable rate loan? Someone is going to let me use some money, in exchange for a certain fee, and the amount of the fee can change depending on what the loan agreement is.

What do people mean by the housing bubble? Well, banks who were loaning money to people who wanted to buy homes treated the home buyers like they had lots and lots of money, when they really didn’t. The “bubble” was when it looked like lots of homes were sold in the usual way-that created an inflated view of reality The bubble “burst” when lots of people could not afford to keep up with their payments, so then usually the banks had to take the houses back since the people didn’t have enough money to pay for them in the long run.

5) Develop time-specific action items.

Financial wellness is an area that operates like a garden…if you want the blooms, you’ve got to water and weed. I help clients prioritize their financial wellness action items, and realistically calendar those items. It can be so overwhelming to look at the financial nuts and bolts, as well as feel the emotions associated with this area of life. Many people derive great benefit from leaving their sessions with a SMART plan (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). ​

I love having refreshing, open conversations with singles and couples who want to become more conscious around their relationship with money. Sometimes it takes really breaking it down to a simple level to then build from there to reach our goals.