I wanted to write this as an answer to the most obvious question in coaching – what benefit do I get?
Now let’s be real for a moment – let’s turn off the Instagram filters and open the honesty box.
When it comes down to it, lots of people don’t really know what exactly financial coaching is, or whether it would be of use for them. Or sometimes I speak to potential clients who think they already know. They know that it is a “by-word” for financial advice – a “softly softly” approach for making product recommendations. That I am going to sell you an ISA or a pension, but I just want you to feel “at ease”.
I’m sorry to disappoint, but none of that above is true. It is all FALSE.
The truth is financial coaching isn’t actually about money at all.
YEP. READ THAT AGAIN.
IT’S NOT ABOUT FINANCES.
Most of us have heard the statistic that one of the most stressful things you can do in life is have children. In fact in a Which? survey, 53% of people said this was THE most stressful thing in life. The thing is, the stress associated with having a child isn’t just focused on the actual child-rearing, it’s the fact that “child-rearing” affects, and encompasses, everything else. Every single facet of our lives.
It creates a significant transition in our relationships, requires a seismic shift in the way that we view ourselves as individuals and is single-handedly responsible for a complete transformation in our whole “way of being”. It also requires that we adopt, overnight, a new identity – as parents and caregivers, and that we do so seamlessly.
For many of my clients, seeking coaching isn’t just about the money. So often people use “money” as the “catch-all”, as the placeholder or the “vessel” for what they’re feeling and thinking.
When we talk about “money”, we often talk about it in an “emotionally charged” manner. When we are in a positive place, we might talk in a financially “abundant” way. We might say things like “Let’s go out for a meal to celebrate – it’s only £X, and we should treat ourselves”. When we are feeling low by contrast, we might talk from a place of “financial scarcity”, and say things like “we don’t deserve that – it’s so much money – we will have to do without”.
Through those two small examples, can you see how we might treat “money” like a by-line for our feelings, our anxieties and our stress? It shouldn’t then be much of a surprise that when we experience the anxiety, stress and all the feels about being parents and the expectations that come with that, that we pour those feelings into our family finances.
The thing is, humans aren’t naturally very good at dealing with our emotions and our feelings. We aren’t great at “self-soothing” or telling ourselves that we are safe.
So very often, when we feel overwhelmed in an emotional sense, we look for a tangible, real “thing” that needs improvement or fixing. Then, we focus all our energy on fixing or improving the “real thing” so that we can avoid dealing with the messy “emotional stuff” (and so that we can pretend the emotions have “gone away”).
Having a baby is stressful in the extreme – and because it is a “transformational experience” for both partners in a couple, it is easy to re-direct some of that stress, those anxieties and that sense of overwhelm into the family budget, and to laser-focus on questions like “how much to save for a baby”, “how to financially prepare for a baby” or “how much do children cost” – because we think those questions will have tangible, concrete answers. Concrete answers that we can “anchor” ourselves to, so that we stop feeling “adrift” and like the ground is shaking underneath the foundations of our relationship.
Now that isn’t to say that financially speaking, having a family isn’t a huge transition. It is. If it wasn’t, I’d be out of business. It is very, very, important to review your financial arrangements when you have a family in order to ensure that you can afford to provide the life that you want for your family, and to ensure that as a couple, you have a shared financial vision for how you will achieve it.
But because financial coaching isn’t about just the money; financial coaching with me isn’t focused on only the money – it’s focused on you, your relationship and your new family dynamic.
My role as your financial coach is a holistic one. I am here to ensure that you both feel calm, in control and “anchored” to your joint family vision. Whilst that is going to involve discussions about spending, saving, budgeting and future financial plans, I also focus on helping you talk to each other with kindness, empathy, mindfulness, understanding and in the spirit of collaboration; not confrontation.
So when you’re wondering exactly what Financial Coaching with me is all about; it’s about giving you time. Time to make roast potatoes without also worrying about the future. It’s also about giving you space. Space to enjoy life as a family (including the tantrums!) without always having the same conversations with each other with the same unsatisfactory result.
Charlotte Lidstone, Money Communication Coach