A money coach, or financial coach, is someone who helps people reach their financial goals. A money coach does not do the work for you but with you. They will encourage, motivate, mentor, hold you accountable, and coach you to financial success.
The best analogy I can think of is a personal trainer. The trainer is not lifting the weights for you but instead is creating the plan and encouraging you to do the work. They show how to correctly do the exercise and are there to answer questions, provide motivation, accountability, and giving feedback.
The same can be said for a financial coach. They create a plan to help you maximize your finances and then provide encouragement and accountability to implement the plan and stay on track.
Money Coach vs Financial Advisor
A money coach is there to help you reach your financial goals. Most often a money coach will dive into the day to day finances and help you towards building the fundamentals of personal finance.
The financial planner or advisor assumes you have already built those fundamentals in your personal finances. They most commonly work towards long term savings goals often associated with stocks, bonds, and insurance.
As a financial coach myself, I work with my clients on the day to day like tracking expenses, creating a spending plan or budget, paying off debt, and saving money for an emergency fund.
Which you need will depend on where you are in your journey. If you need help budgeting and paying off debt then a money coach is your best bet. If you have questions about asset allocation and investing for retirement, then a financial advisor is probably for you.
Note: If you are looking for a financial advisor Vanguard now has a personal advisory service that might be a good fit.
Know What Type of Help You Need
It’s important to know what type of help you need. For example, you wouldn’t go to a foot specialist if your arm was broken. In the same way it’s important to know what part of your finances you need help with.
The clients I work with are primarily looking for help with paying off debt. They make a good hourly rate or salary and are ready to make a change in their financial journey.
Having a plan for them is crucial, but so is someone to guide them and hold them accountable to the plan we create. Ultimately my clients want to focus on what’s important in their lives while still saving money and paying off debt.
Yes, I have a good understanding and general knowledge of investing for retirement, starting your own business, and improving your credit score. However, that’s not my main focus and it’s unlikely we would be the right fit.
In the end you need to know what part of your finances you are looking for help in and what type of client the financial coach works with on a regular basis.
Understand What Services are Offered
Some coaches offer several different services. Anything from saving money for your first home, budget workshops, financial independence, and many others. You will find individual and couples coaching, small business coaching, group coaching, online courses, and a little bit of everything in between.
It’s important to know exactly what service the coach will be providing because while each service is effective in its own right it might not be the service you need or want.
Be Clear on What is Included in the Services
What exactly are you getting with the services? You'll want to understand how the information is being delivered and what actual results you can expect.
For example my initial Financial Roadmap is a two-hour virtual video call via Zoom where we create an Action Plan for your money.
To get the most out of the call I have my clients fill out forms to understand their relationship with money and where they are today. This includes a customized Google sheets workbook that includes a net worth worksheet, a spending plan, along with a debt repayment calculator. I'm there all along the way to help my clients gather this information.
After we complete the two-hour call I provide a written detailed action plan on the steps to take on your financial journey along with any and all material that was provided along with continued email support should you have any questions.
But each money coach will have their own system and you'll want to make sure you are getting the level of service you want. Do you want in-person meetings and unlimited call and text support? Or is meeting once a quarter to review your progress enough? Or maybe something in between?
Related Questions to Ask
- What happens during a coaching session?
- How will we interact?
- How long do you normally work with clients?
Research their Past Successes
For a new coach just starting out, it might be tough to find past client experiences. But it’s important to know that the coach gets results.
Just because they have a pretty website doesn’t mean they are getting results for their clients.
Most financial coaches will have testimonials that talk about a client's success stories, which can be really helpful. Some coaches will provide an actual number of how much the average client has paid off in debt or increased their income for example.
Not all financial coaches provide specific results of success but rather the value they provide which can be helpful but also a reason to seek further information. When in doubt, follow them on social media for a while to get a feel for them. Just because a coach is new doesn't mean they can't help you, but you also don't want to waste your time or money on a coach that isn't a good fit.
Further Information Beyond Past Results
Some other factors I would look for are education and training. While financial coaches don’t require certification or licenses, it could be helpful knowing that your future financial coach has passed a course or earned a certificate in their line of business.
Education should also be reviewed as some may include a Bachelor’s degree, MBA, or PHD.
Personally, I graduated with a degree in Finance which for some people could hold some significant importance as I don’t have a specific financial coaching certification.
You may want to ask about their own personal successes or failure with money. Many like myself have paid off debt and want to help others do the same.
I personally paid off over $100,000 in debt and for many of my clients that’s all the success story they need. My story often resonates because they want someone who has done it before and experienced some of the same difficulties and have a proven record of success.
Related Questions to Ask
- How will you measure and evaluate my success working with you?
- What’s your personal finance philosophy?
How Much Do Financial Coaches Charge?
Financial coaches usually charge by the hour, package, or a combination of both. The majority of coaches tend to work with clients over a period of time rather than a one-time meeting. Which makes sense as getting ahead takes months and years not minutes and hours.
When deciding my coaching prices I did research across the industry and landed in the range of $150 to $600 per hour of their in-person time. Much of this depends on many of the factors that are mentioned in the article.
For example Kelsa Dickey and her team at Fiscal Fitness charge $497 for a 2-hour coaching session to create an action plan. She has over 10 years of financial coaching experience and is a wealth of knowledge. This is on the high end of my research with financial coaches, but remember you are paying for her experience.
I have been coaching for almost two years at Even Steven Money and charge $200 for a 2-hour coaching session to create an action plan. My experience relies heavily on my personal experience of paying off debt and saving money over the last 10 years.
This is just one example looking at pricing from the surface level. It’s often very difficult to compare apples to apples in terms of pricing as financial coaches vary with what they offer, how much one on one time they provide, hourly vs packages, etc.
Aim to Save More Money than You Spend
A common question financial coaches get asked a lot is “how do I afford your services”. The simple answer is we are in the business of saving money, paying off debt, and providing value from our services. Your finances should be better off after you hire a coach. It's an investment.
It’s also important to know that whatever money coach you decide is right for you is also right for you financially. No coach wants to see their clients pay for a service that doesn’t fit their finances.
Related Questions to Ask
- How do you get paid?
- Are there any contracts or upfront fees?
How to Tell if a Coach is Right for You
For most coaches, their website acts as their resume. Look for testimonials from happy clients and read their about page.
Their about page is usually a pretty good biography of who they are and why they are a financial coach. I find the “why” to be important when figuring out if we are the right fit. As most often relating to the coach's story can play a factor in deciding if they are the right money coach for you.
Like any resume, past experience is important in your decision to hire a money coach. However, just because a person has many years of experience does not immediately make them the right coach for you.
Education and training is an important topic to consider as well. Financial coaching does not require a license yet many programs and accreditations are offered. Another example would be education as there is no Bachelor’s degree required, but knowing a person has some education background could round out your overall picture of the coach.
Very similar to a resume, you can look at it all day long, but that’s just the beginning if they are the right fit for the job. The next step is to meet them in person, call, or video chat with them to get all of your questions answered and see if they fit your needs and wants for a financial coach.
Related Questions to Ask
- What’s your coaching style?
- What do you enjoy about your job as a coach?
When shopping for a financial coach it's important to have a clear view of what you need help with. Matching your struggles with a coach that specializes in that area will get you off to a great start.
Once you have found a coach that can help you with your most pressing issues, set up a call, and see if the personalities are also a fit. Part of the process is to take some time and interview a couple of financial coaches to learn more about them. It’s important for the person to fit your needs, but also be the right fit for you.
Be clear on the process and costs of your potential coach and be ready to do the work that will be required to make the changes you seek!