No, I’m not talking about your weight. I have enough of that kind of fat of my own to deal with! No, what I mean is that there are 3 characteristics of people who are good candidates for financial coaching. In my initial consultations with folks, I am basically trying to assess whether they have these three necessary character traits.
1. F is for Faithful.
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. Luke 16:10
By “faithful”, I basically mean accountable. Do you do what you say you are going to do? I can assess that fairly early on by whether you reply in a timely fashion (or at all) to my email or voicemail, especially when I am replying to your initial request for some help through my website or Dave Ramsey’s website. Or if you ask me to call you at a certain time, do you answer the phone? Someone who is not faithful in these little things will generally also not be faithful in the bigger things (does that sound familiar?) that I will ask them to do, like sticking to a budget and bringing that up-to-date budget to our coaching session. I can teach till I’m blue in the face, but my client has to apply that new knowledge in real life or we are both wasting our time.
2. A is for Available.
We are all so busy any more. Well, not so much for me as in previous years since this is my semi-retirement gig (and that’s fine with me...I don’t wanna work tooooo hard). But I remember! Part of the reason people get into financial trouble is lack of time to pay attention to the details like budgeting and balancing the checkbook. But if I am gonna help you, you have to be available to meet with me and to do the things I ask you to do. The bottom line is this though: we all have 24 hours in a day, and we make time for the things that are most important to us. Please don’t wait until you’re in crisis mode before you make a priority of getting control of your money.
3. T is for Teachable.
This is the most important of the three, and also the most difficult for a lot of people, as it depends on some other personality traits like being open-minded and not egocentric. If what someone has been doing with money was working, they wouldn’t be seeking help. But you’d be amazed how many people practically beg me to help them fix their horrible finances but at the same time list off the things they are NOT willing to change, or even discuss changing. “I won’t drive a used car....”, “I won’t work overtime or look for a part time job”, “I won’t cut back on any of the umpteen expensive activities my kids are involved in”, “I won’t buy clothes that aren’t designer labels”, “I won’t consider selling any of the stuff in my house that is collecting dust”. You name it...sacred cows all. (Go read my blog from a few months ago on the topic of sacred cows.)
But....I don’t have a magic wand. It all boils down to increasing income and decreasing outgo and there are only so many ways to do that. So if you’re not open to considering new ideas, I can’t help you. Luckily though, this is actually the easiest trait to determine in an initial consultation. And yes, I have told a number of people after an initial consultation that I can’t help them.
Thankfully, most of you who are reading this are likely already fully qualified as good and F.A.T.! I really get so much joy out of helping people like you and watching the progress people make after several months working the plan we develop together. I don’t ever wanna just take money from someone and then argue with them constantly, or deal with missed appointments and the like. So I’ll just stick with helping F.A.T. people. It’s been fun so far.