Kate came to see me early in January, as part of her New Year’s resolution to tackle her money issues of guilt and spending. She had felt out of control of money all her adult life, and the year ahead was looking just like the last ones: her dreams still out of reach. Despite being a high earner, she was plagued by a constant feeling of not having enough.
“The sessions have gone so far beyond my initial objectives when coming to see Simonne. I vividly remember the despair I felt when I first searched for help with my financial untogetherness - which I then thought was a problem of numeracy and organisation. I got up in the middle of the night as I was so stressed I couldn't sleep, but didn't even know what words to put in the search engine as I didn't know that financial coaching existed. It was the start of an extraordinary journey which has taken me from steady practical progress to new worlds of self-discovery."
Matt had struggled for a long time with his relationship to money. He earned a reasonable salary but felt that he repeatedly overspent, causing him to worry about money. He became secretive and would lie about his spending habits and outgoings to his wife, and he was fearful of bank and credit card statements. He constantly told himself that he was 'no good with money' - that he was intelligent and able to do many things, but dealing with money wasn't one of them. He experienced cycles of financial challenges, being rescued by others or managing to get himself out of it by living within his means for a period, but then would find himself losing control again, feeling powerless to resolve the issues.
Sarah was in the process of going through a divorce when we met, and having to take control of her own finances for the first time in her life. Her plan was to continue renting a property for the next couple of years while she was studying and then to buy a house. She wanted to get a sense of what she could afford to spend on the new property and whether she would then have enough to live on without the need to go back to work. She also wanted to understand the investments she’s got, how they work, and what they mean for her financial future.
Becky was considering a job move from a company where she had a final salary pension, to a company where she would pay into a defined contribution plan. She had no idea what the value of her final pension salary was, or what she should be asking in terms of salary to compensate for it, so I created a spreadsheet to help her understand the implications. Based on agreed assumptions, we estimated that Becky would have to pay £25,000 a year into a pension fund to equal the guaranteed pension she could be giving up in her current role. Armed with that information, she went into salary negotiations and managed to negotiate an extra £25,000 a year on top of the payrise the new employer was already offering.
Hanri initially wanted to explore the possibility of setting up her own business and knew she needed to take control of her personal finances to make a success of it. She told me that she was ‘frittering away’ money and that she wanted to be in control; to be able to look at bank statements without feeling embarrassed at how much frivolous and unplanned spending they revealed. She felt she still used money like a student, spending at the start of the month and living frugally for the rest, and wanted to feel more ‘grown up’ when it came to her behaviour with money. Although she knew she wanted to turn her passion – photography – into a business, she felt overwhelmed by the financial implications and responsibility.
"The impact of my sessions with Simonne has been dramatic. Six months ago, my finances were the rockiest they’ve ever been. I was worried that I was going to have to sell my house suddenly, was not meeting mortgage payments and was already paying such outrageous interest (though I hadn't realised) on one loan that it would probably never have been repaid. When a friend suggested Simonne, I said I would consult her when I had some spare cash - to which (and for which I'm eternally grateful) she replied, no Jane, do it now."
Wendy contacted me looking for help to break a pattern of ‘financial meltdowns’ and a spiralling credit card debt, which was giving her a growing sense of panic. Financially literate, and with a background in economics, she had no problem providing the financial details: she knew exactly how much money she had, what her assets were worth and what she owed, and she didn’t hide bills or invoices. And yet she was spending beyond her means. Though currently mortgage free, she was contemplating getting a mortgage as a ‘solution’ to her credit card bill, and for extra house renovations – thus heading for even more debt. She suspected that there were deeper issues and blocks around her money behaviour. We explored these together, and investigated potential routes out of debt and into financial security and calm.
"I have monthly sessions with Simonne - initially these were to clarify my financial position and to set up a budget and record keeping system. Now this is easy to maintain, our time is focussed more on specifics such as taking stock of my investments as well as my attitudes to money and my ability to generate an income that is sufficient and satisfying. As a result of our financial coaching sessions, I have taken more responsibility for my money and for earning. I am calmer and more confident about money and my sense of possibility in all areas of my life is expanded."