The amount of free advice out there is dizzying. From the moment you’re able to comprehend life beyond high school, you’re bombarded with “you should” from every direction.
“You should go to college.”
“You should get a good job.”
“You should get married.”
So you play along. You head off to college because it’s expected, get a job after graduation, and marry that cute guy/girl you met in your Bio class. You two start making a life together and enjoying the pleasures of the “DINK” lifestyle (Dual Income, No Kids).
Life is pretty simple and you’re glad you followed the advice so far. If only you could get those pesky student loans paid off, though, then you could really get somewhere. Instead, the voices start to buzz again.
“You should buy a house.”
“You should save for retirement.”
You and your spouse mean to scrape and save for months to come up with some cash to put the 3% down on a beat-up starter house with some room to grow and have a kid or two. Yet, in reality you just use your tax refund.
The mortgage is less than your previous rent payment, but the taxes, insurance, and upkeep bring the cost up a little more than you had hoped. Pretty soon, things start to get a bit tight financially. Between the mortgage, student loans, utilities, and groceries, your checking account seems to drop before you can squirrel money away for Christmas or next year’s vacation. You put 5% into a 401(k) every pay period, but you’re starting to wonder if that’s enough to retire on.
“You should start a family.”
Your mother-in-law has been asking about children since the day after you got married. You welcome a little tyke into the world, and you’re now down to one income. Add a new “safer car” payment, diapers, and doctor’s visits to your mortgage and student loans, and now, that vacation you dreamed about has turned into a fantasy. How in the world are you supposed to manage all of this without serious financial help?!
“You should start saving for your kid’s college.”
“You should start investing in the stock market and real estate.”
The voices are hardly recommending anymore, they’re nagging you from every facebook ad and billboard. You’re starting to lose sleep trying to keep it all straight.
Finally, you decide to call for help and ask a financial advisor friend from college how to start investing. Unfortunately, his minimum requirement for starting a portfolio is $80,000, and the best advice he can give you is to put more into your 401(k). He does have one awesome piece of advice though …
“You should speak with a financial coach.”
A financial coach will help you set goals based on your personal situation and not society’s expectations. Then, you’ll learn the skills needed to achieve those goals and manage your finances, get the accountability to follow through, and gain the confidence to master your money. You can find plenty of budgets and motivational posters online, but having somebody actually coach you through the process, equip you with healthy habits, and champion you to financial freedom is worth every penny!
After one month of working with your coach, you’ll realize something is different.
You’re sleeping better at night.
You’re not fighting with your spouse about money.
You actually start to feel in control.
Thirty days later, you’ve never felt so excited! This whole “budgeting” thing isn’t the straight jacket you thought it’d be at all! Instead of sticking your head in the sand, you’re starting to dream about the future again, and that future is bright!
Three months after finally committing to fix the problem, you’ve surprised yourself. You actually have an emergency fund set aside, and you’re making real progress towards the goals you and your spouse have agreed on. You stop and think about all the “shoulds” you’ve followed in your life and wonder why nobody advised you to get a coach long ago; it would’ve saved you so much trouble if you had been in control from the beginning.