In January of 2008, I had just turned 23, been married for five months, and was flat broke. The market had crashed completely. Fresh college graduates like myself and my new husband were competing for job interviews with Ph.D. holders and ex-Executives. The best I could do that he could do was to each secure part-time positions. I worked as a bank teller for $11 an hour between 20 hours a week. My husband snagged a job as a veterinarian technician 25 hours a week for $7.25 an hour.
Living this way, with very little money, felt like drowning. We could not afford health insurance. I remember haggling with a doctor, begged him to see me, and to charge me out of pocket when I became sick with a UTI. We ate extraordinarily cheap, unhealthy foods. Our housing was $725 a month, and it was a dump of a place. It was infested with cockroaches, and the water wasn’t always hot. Then student loan bills came in. And then one of our POS cars broke down. And our credit card debt started mounting.
As an attempt to escape our declining financial state, we did the only thing either of us could think to do- we each applied to graduate school. We spent some precious pennies paying for application fees, driving to interviews with professors that ultimately didn’t receive funding. And our credit card debt went up, again.
My acceptance letter came from the University of Kentucky. The offer was for a part-time scholarship and a 10 hour student work position with a small stipend. It was the best offer either us of got. True to a core I did not know was a part of me, I did the money math.
We already were strapped month to month. It would take a miracle to make it from March to August without another disaster taking the last of our credit card limit. We needed it to rent the moving truck and cover the other moving expenses. We would have to maxed out our credit cards We have to move literally without a dime to our names to take this chance. A chance that was only a partial scholarship and a 10 hour a week job for only one of the two of us.
It was an impossible financial choice. I knew after looking at the numbers we could literal not afford to make this move. And that is when I learned my very first lesson in the laws of money: the first transformation to a wealthier life is in your willingness to pay for the change. On paper... we could not afford to make this choice. In reality, we could not NOT afford to take this chance at creating a different future.
So I accepted.
That one little, right choice was the first step that led down the path to something, at the time, I would have deemed inconceivable. The opportunity didn’t present as perfect, as it only offered half a scholarship, which meant more loans and a smaller stipend. Plus, it cost my little family our last bit of everything we had. We were scared and uncertain as to how it would all shake out. But we took this chance.
And, oh, what a chance it was. My part-time job was as a teaching assistant, and I was paired with a professor who was an expert in personal finance and family economics. And my future began.
He assigned me the task of grading the student projects and handed me my first ever personal finance textbook. I devoured that book like a starving animal. And then I gobbled another. And another. Until I had read all the DIY personal finance gurus out there, in addition to dozens of textbooks. Then I attended his classes. And then, I took his graduate course. And then, I asked for a full-time position with him and joined him researching personal finance and family economics. I traveled all over the state of Kentucky, interviewing people on their finances, asking them probing questions about their money habits, patterns, mindsets, and beliefs.
Then, I started working for a second professor. He assigned me the task of finding and digesting financial research across multiple disciplines. Afterward, I wrote about my findings in state-sponsored extension publications so that ordinary people had access to the valuable information in non-academic language. And then, I wrote a grant to create an upper-level class for undergraduates to teach them basic and advanced personal financial principles. And then I asked to teach it. And then, I stepped outside the academic bubble and started managing people’s money for them, going into their homes, and helping them get organized financially.
All the while, I used my own little family’s finances as an experiment. I tinkered with ways to create or save more money while simultaneously cultivating a less stressed home and marital relationship.
Eleven years later, and I have only devoured countless more books, blogs, talks, seminars, self-directed and college courses on personal finance and family economics. But more than that, I have obtained a full education on financial counseling, financial therapy, marriage and family therapy, learning over the human lifespan, and effective coaching. I earned my Master’s degree in Family Science, becoming an expert in human development and the human being’s capacity for growth and change over a lifetime. Then I actively combined this knowledge to the financial lifestyle to yield higher-level money management practicalities for my clients. I have designed courses for and taught over 250 hours of personal finance literacy courses at both primary and advance college levels. Now, I am back in school, earning a Ph.D. in Personal Finance and Family Economics, and certifications in Financial Counseling and Financial Therapy. Most importantly, I have created an entire profession where I use all of this knowledge, 12 years worth of expertise with more being added every single day, to help individuals like you or families like your to forge their path to a wealthier life. I am a money coach.
I have had the honor of working with 100’s of individuals and families who... on paper... could not afford to hire me. But, like me, they realized the first law of money: the first transformation to a wealthier life is in your willingness to pay for the change. Each of my clients saw how they could not NOT afford to take chance of creating a wealthier life. Luckily for them, I can help them get on and start down that path in 12 weeks. A short cut compared to my 12 years.
Together, my client and I sit down to a deep discuss on who they are and how I can serve them. After comprehending their goals and desires and working with them through their fears, I am able to craft custom money program that helps them identify their money malfunctions, understand their emotional money triggers, face the poor money habits and patterns, and overcome their sabotaging, limiting money mindsets. Next we create a new money management system that replaces that old, limiting one. Then we implement a fresh money problem-solving process, so that triggers and old habits and pattern and sabotaging mindsets cannot creep back into play. I align everything with what is of value to the client without judgement and with the sole purpose of improving their money situation at the end of our time together.
All the while I continue to use my own little family’s finances as an experiment. I tinker with new and exciting ways to build and maintain our wealth with the intention of protecting our home from financial stress and cultivating joy in our family relationships.
I am a money coach because I love money and the freedom that creating it and using it well creates. I am a money coach because I love people and the amazing things that human beings are capable of when money isn’t a constant worry in their lives. And I am a money coach because I love learning, and will forever be a student who turns around to teach.