The Journey

I’ve talked openly on this blog and with the members that I counsel about my own messy financial background. I come to counseling from a history of debt, stress, and all the other yucky things that we associate with bad finances.  But, as I have also shared, I experienced a huge turnaround in my financial life when I received the education I needed about how to manage my finances properly. I set about implementing the Four Pillars into my financial life and I turned things around. Once I did, my life journey took a number of interesting turns, including a recent one…

I was first introduced to the idea of financial counseling by Jim and Tina Aho. I met them when they were doing a consultation at the credit union regarding a particular philosophy of credit union member management they call “Membercentrics,” which, in a nutshell, is all about trying to best figure out what the member needs and how the credit union can best meet those needs, helping them have a healthier financial life than prior to membership.

At the time, I was in grad school working on a degree in Mental Health Counseling, intending to go into that field once I graduated. But as I left that first consultation with the Ahos (one of a few with them the credit union has had in my time here), I had a whole other idea in my head for the path I wanted my professional life to take. I wanted to get into financial counseling, instead. I wanted to work with people to more easily sort out the things in their financial lives that I had learned the hard way how to sort out in my own. Jim and Tina showed me that it was something I could do professionally and I’ll always be grateful for that jog in my path.

I immediately and passionately dedicated myself to my new plan. During the next few months’ time, I took a break from grad school to work on my financial counseling certification through CUNA and I had switched the course of my Master’s Degree to Counseling Studies, dropping the focus on mental health. I was knowingly giving up a broad, stable career path for a niche profession but I felt called to do it. I don’t regret answering that call. I’ve been counseling our membership for over two years at the credit union and I have done my best to be able to educate, inspire, and support our membership to live out healthy financial lives. Like I’ve said, I’ve been on the other side of things and I know how good some motivation, education, and a good skill set can be toward getting control and finding peace.

I share all of this because my path has experienced another jog. I have accepted an offer to continue financial counseling for another entity. I am grateful for and appreciative of my time at the credit union. I have learned a lot about myself and my profession here; but the opportunity elsewhere was just too great to pass up. The Journey continues.

I’m not sure what will happen going forward for this blog. I’m not even sure what the credit union’s plans are to fill or replace my counseling position. But I do know that, as of Tuesday, the 12th, the blog will either be finished or it will be on hold until someone else picks up the writing reins.

Thanks for reading here. I hope you will continue to invest in yourselves and in your financial lives and I hope that the work you put in will reward you greatly. Be Well. 🙂

Becoming a Better Salesperson

healthy choicesI consider myself a perpetual student. I love learning. I went back to school twelve years after I finished my undergraduate degree to get a Master’s degree, in large part just because I love learning. Because of that inner drive to grow and to know things, even my personal life is filled with knowledge-seeking. I read a lot– and it’s almost always non-fiction, from essays and/or instructionals written by Jiu Jitsu black belts; to learning how to understand and invest in the stock market; to understanding the mental game in athletics; to books about The Hidden Side of Everything. Another way I feel I am constantly educating myself and feeding my addiction to knowledge is by listening to the Freaknomics podcast, which I have posted about before.

Just last week, I had mentioned in my post that I am a better coach than a salesperson. Well, interestingly enough, in the time since I published that post I happened to listen to a Freaknomics podcast that hit close to home, in that regard. The podcast laid out some interesting ideas about motivation and about making the “right” decisions for ourselves.
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Running from the Problem

Albert-Ellis-destinyThe most difficult, heartbreaking part of my job is seeing people who need help (desperately, in some cases) who either don’t recognize it, who are in denial about it or avoiding it, or just aren’t yet willing to work at changing things. It’s tough. I think I’m a compassionate person; but I’m also a realist. I feel for your financial problems; but they will not go away on their own. They just won’t, which means that you cannot run from them. Your financial problems will chase you– and they have an endless gas tank. Your financial problems are the T-800.

This all comes to mind because I saw someone today at the credit union that I have counseled in the past. This day, he was in the process of ultimately being denied for a loan by one of our loan officers. I’d met with him only once before. At the time that we met, he shared with me plenty of reasons to make changes. He felt like he was constantly behind. He felt like he didn’t know where his money was going. We sat down and built a budget together and the numbers actually looked really good. That usually indicates a spending and/or discipline issue. We chatted about how to move forward and break the cycle. I’d like to think I gave him good information and good tools to turn things around and we talked about meeting again a month or two down the road. I never heard from him again. Instead of making another appointment, here we are, instead. He’s still in trouble, wanting to take on even more debt to try and “fix” his current problem, despite all we talked about. He already can’t seem to keep up with the monthly expenses but he now wants another monthly payment for a loan in the mix.

Honestly, I think it’s very sad. It’s the great mystery of the human race, to me: Why don’t we do right by and for ourselves like we should?

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Oversaving (is That Even a Thing?)

stuffed-piggy-bankAre you saving too much money? First of all, for many folks, that seems like such a ridiculous question in the first place. Many folks aren’t saving at all and many more aren’t saving enough; but saving too much? Is that really a thing?

I absolutely think so. Saving shouldn’t just be something that you do– it should be something that you do with purpose. Like I’ve said countless times in regards to our financial lives, it’s important to have a plan. That includes how and why we are saving. Continue reading