I believe everybody needs a money coach in some form or another. Your money coach can be your spouse, parent, best friend, sibling, or mentor. He or she just needs to be a little bit more experienced and financially savvier than you. If not, she needs to at least be a good listener so they can reflect back on your blind spots.
Despite giving plenty of 1X1 financial consulting sessions myself, I've never had my own money coaching session. I view the entire Financial Samurai community as a great platform to discuss various issues. Some things I've learned from all of you are:
- All talk, no action doesn't inspire change. Telling people to do something doesn't work as well as showing people through my own actions, e.g. posting 3X a week for eight years in a row, responding to comments at 5:30am, deploying capital based on my investment thesis, working towards my passive income goals, trying and failing all the time, etc.
- Producing quality content without self-promotion actually works. I've often wondered whether it's possible to build a brand without being a public figure. Is valuing my privacy holding me back from maximizing my potential? Probably, but this site has grown every year since its founding in 2009, so I'm pleased with the progress.
- Being a minority does not impede me from getting ahead in America. I came to America as a freshman in high school after spending the previous 13 years living in Asia plus one year in Zambia. Going from being a majority to a minority was sometimes a difficult transition. I highly recommend giving it a try one day. You'll build a lot of grit.
When Capital One reached out to me about their free money coaching sessions at one of their cafés in San Francisco, I jumped at the opportunity. Money coaching an help you better understand your relationship with money so you can pursue what you want in life.
I'm always interested in trying new things and getting feedback about myself in order to improve as a person. As someone who is struggling with money addiction, the timing of this coaching session couldn't be more perfect.
My one hour money coaching session didn't wind up being at their downtown Union Square Café, but at Pier 39 where they were hosting their Banking Reimagined Tour this past weekend. I was there to check out their huge state-of-the-art trailer when my contact at Capital One mentioned their San Francisco / Walnut Creek money coach, Megan CFP, was also there if I wanted to do my session.
It was a glorious day after a week of non-stop rain, so of course I told them “yes!”
Megan was great. She spent 10 years at Morgan Stanley as a financial planner, became a certified life coach, and decided to smartly blend her two skills together to help other people. Life + financial coaching seems like a rewarding career for anyone thinking about doing something new.
I've always talked about money as being a means to achieve greater happiness. I thought my end goal was always just about having absolute freedom, but through my first coaching session, I identified more goals.
The first step for self-improvement was to make my “travel plan.” Essentially, I had to figure out where (and how) I am today, what I have to do to get to point B, and what I think I'll have once I get there. Here's my travel plan snapshot. Pardon my chicken scratch as I hastily jotted things down.
I described my current state of being with the words: satisfied, happy, blessed, wonderment. Having a life partner, tennis network, online network, family, and home really bring me a lot of happiness and satisfaction. I plan to continue waking up early, working hard, and planning for the future so that I may have more happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and vitality! We talked briefly through each of the action steps.
The next step in the money coaching session was to either go through my Values or a Money Plan. Given I've got my money plan mapped out, I went with understanding my values. There was a list of ~50 different values to choose from and I was asked to write out eight that spoke to me the most.
My eight most important values are: Meaning & Purpose, Inner Peace, Belonging, Health, Independence, Equality, Freedom, and Helping Others.
Next to each value is a numerical score between 1-10, indicating where I feel I am with each value.
1) Helping (10): Every day I feel like I'm helping someone with Financial Samurai, even if it's just a little bit. Even those who stop by and leave an angry or insulting comment probably come away feeling better about themselves.
2) Meaning & Purpose (10): As a result of helping others, I feel like I've got a good sense of meaning & purpose. Writing about personal finance just feels like a great fit due to my background. Mentoring kids also provides extra purpose.
3) Independence (10): Having my health gives me the independence to move freely. I don't ever want to feel like a burden to anybody. I know that day will come, but I'm trying to remain independent for as long as possible.
4) Freedom (10): Freedom to choose based on my values is all I ever want. Due to aggressive saving and investing, my passive income stream provides such freedom.
5) Health (8): So far, all my body parts are working. I feel no chronic pain either. My health score would be higher if I lost 10-15 lbs. Despite practicing portion control and exercising regularly, I'm still losing the battle of the bulge.
6) Equality (8): I strongly believe in equality for all. As a result, I'm constantly writing about issues that don't seem fair to get people to think more broadly. For example, why is there a marriage penalty tax? Why do Asian people have to do better in school to have the same chance of getting into university as other races? Why do people have the ability to vote on legislation that raises taxes on other people without having to pay more taxes themselves? Why is there any poverty within 30 miles of a billionaire? Why do we gorge ourselves when there are over 200 million malnourished people in the world? Why do CEOs make millions killing people by selling sugary drinks and unhealthy food?
7) Inner Peace (8): The older I get, the more often I ask myself whether I'd be OK if I died today. The more I'm OK with passing, the more inner peace I have. I got close to being OK dying young after achieving my life goal of doing something entrepreneurial. Having life insurance and a clear will also helped. But now that I'm thinking about having a kid, I want to at least live long enough before he becomes an adult.
8) Belonging (6): Here's where I feel I'm most lacking. It's interesting I feel this way due to the relatively large Financial Samurai community. Perhaps due to the fact there's such a large online community, it makes my offline community feel very small? I truly enjoy interacting with the millions of Financial Samurais around the world who take ownership of their lives.
I'm a pretty social person who loves to hang out with cool people. I miss the days when I could just meet up with a friend after school and skateboard for hours on end without a care. In a way, retiring early has robbed me of camaraderie because I no longer have a group of colleagues to hang out with during and after work. There are no more power lunches with friendly clients either. Oh how I miss using the company corporate card. Almost everybody I know has to go to work, and it does get lonely at times.
Relationships take effort. Therefore, I plan to do two things:
1) Plan a couples retreat for my 40th birthday. I really enjoyed going with two other couples to Indian Wells last spring for a tennis tournament. We rented a sweet house with a pool and hot tub (pic below), went out to eat every night, and watched world class tennis during the day. So fun! But since then, I've only had three dinner outings with couples. So sad.
2) Identify two things I love and attend weekly meetups. There are endless meetups here in San Francisco across a variety of interests. I'm pretty tapped out on the fintech / startup scene, and I've got the tennis community covered. I'm thinking about joining a co-ed softball team where we play some random opponent on some random field and go for brewskies at a dive bar after. I'm also considering joining a car club after I buy my mid-life crisis vehicle. It's fun to drive in a cavalcade up to wine country with some car fanatics. We can create a mid-life crisis support group!
Finding Direction And A Recommendation
It's interesting to learn my money coaching session wasn't so much about my finances, but more about how to achieve life goals. I plan to meet Megan for one or two more free sessions next time I go downtown for some business meetings. It feels great speaking to someone who is 100% focused on helping you move forward.
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