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. 🙂

Four Pillars of Financial Health: Pillar #4 – Saving

Four PillarsIn this final post from our Financial Literacy Month special series on the Four Pillars of Financial Health, we’re talking about saving. It’s the most important part of your budget. Saving isn’t entirely without its challenges but it’s a necessity. Without savings, even the best-functioning budget is far more frail than it appears. A budget without savings is a house made out of straw instead of a house made out of bricks. If one big, bad life event comes along, it’ll blow your house down.

Sort of on that note, the economy is tough these days. We’re earning less as things are costing more. Some folks would argue that makes it harder to save money. I would say that makes it all the more important that we save.
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Four Pillars of Financial Health: Pillar #3 – Following the Plan (Discipline)

Four PillarsDiscipline often sounds like an ugly word. According to dictionary.com, there are a few different definitions for discipline. I think most people think of it as “punishment inflicted by way of correction and training,” but in this context, it’s definitely more appropriately either “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill,” or “behavior and order maintained by training and control.” Whichever definition you think fits best, Discipline and making choices to help you stick to your budget is critical to your financial health.

A budget as a plan is meaningless without action. Really, it’s just a list of numbers on a page. What makes a budget come alive and work for us is the choices that we make to adhere to those numbers.
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