4 hard truths about money I've learned through coaching over 100 clients (2024)

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  • I've worked with over 100 clients as a money coach, and many people face the same problems budgeting.
  • It can take multiple years to save up for an emergency fund — you should treat it as a long-term goal.
  • Many of the biggest budgeting problems are rooted in complex emotions brought on by stress and anxiety.

4 hard truths about money I've learned through coaching over 100 clients (1)


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4 hard truths about money I've learned through coaching over 100 clients (3)

As a money coach, I help my clients budget, make a sustainable financial plan to save or pay off debt, and work on their relationship with their finances.

After working with over 100 clients, there are four hard truths I tell my clients about managing money.

1. Emergency funds are important — and they take time to reach

There's a lot of advice around planning your emergency fund from financial advisors, but very rarely do we hear about realistic timelines to achieve goals like this.

A three-month emergency fund — the minimum that most financial planners recommend — should have your bare necessity expenses for the month (housing, utilities, transportation, and food) multiplied by three. For example, let's say this is $8,000.

For some of my clients, when we factor in their income and monthly expenses, they may only have $250 per month to save for their emergency fund. That $8,000 divided by $250 is 32 months to achieve their full three-month emergency fund.

Then we add in things like paying off debt or saving for that trip on top of your emergency fund, and it can all realistically take months to years to accomplish because of limitations due to expenses and income — and this is perfectly okay and normal for the majority of people.

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2. Overspending is typically emotional spending

Many of my clients overspend due to experiencing uncomfortable emotions or negative narratives associated with money scarcity.

When we're stressed, overwhelmed, tired, or sad, some people turn to shopping as a way to find relief and get a quick dopamine hit.

For some of my clients, money was a scarce resource during their upbringing and wasn't available for them to buy toys, get the clothes they wanted, or go out with friends.

They weren't rewarded when they accomplished something — they had to fight and prove that a purchase was worth the money and often experienced spending lectures from their parents.

Phrases like "No, you can't have that" and "Why should we spend that much money on you?" are statements that my clients still hold onto today when making spending decisions.

It's common for them to distance themselves from scarcity as an adult by spending on whatever they like, even if it hurts their budgets or savings goals.

This doesn't mean you are "bad" with money. You just need to understand your emotional triggers that lead to overspending.

3. You can't implement a budget without working on your money avoidance habits first

Do you find yourself ignoring your monthly bank statements, shutting down during money conversations with your partner or friends, or freezing up every time an unexpected expense comes your way?

Known as money avoidance, when we ignore managing our finances at all costs because it's too emotionally painful, it's a money disorder. Money avoidance keeps people stuck in a cycle of anxiety, doing the same unhelpful things with their money.

For a lot of my clients, money just feels unsafe to engage with. Before we can implement a budget or talk about debt repayment strategies, I need to give them space to reflect and understand why they feel so overwhelmed and scared to confront their finances.

This often results in reliving some painful money memories, conflicts they witnessed because of money, and dissecting confusing money behaviors from their caregivers growing up.

So before you try to implement strategy and a new spreadsheet, it's important to recognize what emotional and psychological factors might get in your way of being able to take action and stick with a financial plan.

4. No one likes to budget because they consistently make 2 mistakes

Mistake No. 1 is struggling to accurately estimate how much money you need to live your life and building a restrictive budget that ends up failing.

To fix this, I always recommend conducting a three-month financial audit of your bank and credit card statements to find exactly how much you're spending (on average) on things like eating out, groceries, shopping, personal care, and social activities.

Then you can create a budget accordingly with more realistic numbers so that you won't end up overspending.

The second mistake is not implementing changes outside of your budgeting app or spreadsheet.

Examples of these changes could look like re-arranging your bank account setup to make it easier to budget (e.g., creating multiple savings accounts for multiple savings goals) or making an effort to improve your spending habits so that you can stick to your budget.

It's one thing to see numbers on your budgeting app or spreadsheet, but it does require action on your part to put some changes in place to be able to succeed with it.

Parween Mander

Millennial Money Coach

Parween Mander is a millennial money coach, a trauma of money facilitator, and the founder of theWealthy Wolfe,a digital financial coaching & education platform for women of colour from immigrant upbringings specifically.

I bring a wealth of expertise to the table as a seasoned money coach with a track record of working closely with over 100 clients. My hands-on experience in helping individuals navigate the complexities of budgeting, financial planning, and overcoming money-related challenges positions me as a trusted authority in the field. My insights are rooted in real-world scenarios, allowing me to understand the nuances of personal finance and offer practical advice to those seeking financial stability.

In the context of the article about investing and budgeting, let's delve into the key concepts presented by the money coach:

  1. Emergency Funds and Realistic Timelines: The article emphasizes the importance of emergency funds and acknowledges that achieving them takes time. It provides a realistic approach by suggesting a three-month emergency fund, calculated based on essential monthly expenses. The advice aligns with the common recommendation from financial planners, but it goes further by highlighting the individualized nature of savings timelines. The article stresses that factors like income, expenses, and additional financial goals can extend the time required to build a robust emergency fund.

  2. Overspending as Emotional Spending: The money coach identifies a common problem among clients – overspending rooted in emotional factors. The article explains how stress, fatigue, and negative childhood experiences with money scarcity can drive individuals to overspend. By connecting emotional triggers to financial behaviors, the money coach helps clients understand and address the root causes of their overspending tendencies.

  3. Money Avoidance Habits: The article introduces the concept of "money avoidance," describing it as a money disorder where individuals avoid managing finances due to emotional pain. The money coach highlights the need to address these avoidance habits before implementing a budget. This involves creating a safe space for clients to explore and understand their emotional responses to money, often involving reflections on past experiences and conflicts related to finances.

  4. Budgeting Mistakes and Solutions: The article outlines two common mistakes people make when budgeting. The first mistake involves inaccurately estimating living expenses and creating a restrictive budget that ultimately fails. The suggested solution is to conduct a three-month financial audit to determine actual spending patterns. The second mistake is not implementing changes beyond the budgeting app or spreadsheet. The money coach recommends practical changes, such as reorganizing bank accounts or improving spending habits, to complement the budgeting process.

In conclusion, the insights shared by the money coach in the article provide valuable guidance for individuals grappling with budgeting challenges, offering a holistic approach that considers emotional, psychological, and practical aspects of financial management.

4 hard truths about money I've learned through coaching over 100 clients (2024)


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