I recently had the opportunity to speak with Marcia (from Salt Lake City, Utah). After using Mvelopes for a short time, Marcia decided to sign up for the “complete” coaching package. I asked Marcia questions about her experience–with coaching and with Mvelopes, in general–and her answers follow:
Q: How many coaching Sessions did you complete?
Q: What coaching session(s) did you find most valuable?
A: That’s hard to answer for me because every session would bring up different questions. Lori, my coach, was extremely patient and helpful. She was really awesome. When you’re learning to use the program by yourself, there are so many questions that come up and it was so nice to touch base with someone who could help answer those questions. So, all of the session were valuable. However, the early ones were probably the most valuable, because I was being taught the basics. Towards the end, I was able to personalize it a little bit better. It was very helpful to have someone there to help me figure out how all of it was going to work in my life.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you take control of your money?
A: What it has done for me is that I’m no longer just thinking in terms of how much money I have in the bank. I have a plan now. Rather than just worry about my bank account balance, I’m considering how my funds are allocated and now I concerned with whether or not I’m on target. That translates for me in a different way than it used to. It’s no longer just a matter of knowing how much money I have, but I want to know if I’m spending it differently than I’ve allocated it and whether or not I’m following my plan. I’ve done budgets before and they didn’t work for me. With Mvelopes, however, you can’t hide or fool yourself.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you reduce consumer debt?
A: Consumer debt isn’t my issue. I did have an emergency home repair fund (it was a long-term debt), but I generally pay off my credit cards each month. I also now have a better plan for emergencies.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you reduce your stress related to money?
A: It has helped me stay focused. Instead of spending frivolously, I now immediately ask myself where I’m going to take the funds from and, if I haven’t budgeted for a specific purchase, I have to figure that out. I have to problem-solve. It’s not just a vague stress anymore. I now just have to address it. I also think about savings differently. I make better, wiser choices with my money. All of that has really helped relieve money-related stress.
Q: How much has your budgeting and money management knowledge increased since you started the coaching program?
A: My knowledge has increased a lot. I truly could have stayed in coaching a long time. I really enjoyed it and I learned a great deal. Actually, I’ve never had serious money problems, for which I’m grateful. The coaching program helped me look at the basic things, along with the details, of budgeting. I like the charts that show me what might happen if I add an additional $50 to a loan. You can immediately become inspired to find extra funds! You can find out, right there, what advantages there are to paying ahead. It’s not just that you’re paying $50 more-it’s affecting the cycle differently than just adding $50. It’s really quite remarkable. It’s such a big incentive. What happens now is that I think, okay, so if I have this unexpected cost, where can I cut back, and I’m much more specific with where I can look. I have choices. I have options. You get really specific. Instead of overspending and feeling you just have to cut back somewhere and worrying about it, you can have a plan.
Q: How much has the knowledge of the envelope method helped you manage your money?
A: The envelope method is the brilliant part of the program. The coaching is awesome, but the program made it workable for me. If it were just the advice without the system, it wouldn’t have the impact.
Q: How have your attitudes about budgeting and money management changed since you started the coaching program?
A: I always looked at budgeting in a negative way before and now I find it to be interesting. Now instead of feeling like it’s a punishment, I get excited to find ways to save money or pay things off earlier. I feel more motivated and confident that I can be successful and actually get on top of it. Mvelopes is my money conscience.
Q: How has coaching helped you gain a clear overall picture of your spending?
A: When I open up the program, it’s just an eyeball glance and I can see exactly what’s going on. The good reminder is those unassigned transactions. When you have to sit down one by one and assign them, that’s the big thing. I had already paid for items and I had to assign them. At first, I didn’t understand that, but it expanded my idea. I could check my bank account every day and see what my balance is, but that wouldn’t do much to help me manage my money.
Q: How has your Mvelopes usage changed since starting the coaching program?
A: I’m doing better with figuring out how to think about it. It takes a little while to understand how the system works. It took me awhile to see how Mvelopes links with what’s going on in my bank account. I no longer worry that if I do something in Mvelopes that it will affect my bank account. Now Mvelopes drives my bank account. I haven’t set up bill pay yet and I’m excited to switch things to that system. And mobile Mvelopes is something that I’m excited about, too.
Q: What advice would you give to new Money for Life Coaching participants?
A: First of all, I think that people should consider that the cost of the coaching-at first that was a little daunting for me–but the benefits are huge. Listen carefully to your coach and trust that this will work. Go into it with a positive attitude. Practice with it. Play around with it. The books are also good resources. But “be there” with the coach.
Q: How long have you been using Mvelopes?
A: I started using it at the end of 2009.
Q: How has Mvelopes assisted you in living within your income?
A: That’s not been a big problem for me, but what I’m doing now is, instead of having to dip into savings, I no longer have to go beyond my salary. I have some consulting income, too, and I used to be somewhat dependent on it. I look at things differently now.
Q: How much consumer debt have you been able to eliminate during that time?
A: I just don’t have it, so that doesn’t apply to me.
Q: How much have you been able to save while using Mvelopes?
A: I have probably added $1,000 to one of my savings account.
Q: How much has your average checking account balance increased while using Mvelopes?
A: I have at least $500 more in my account than I used to have.
Q: What financial goals have you achieved while using Mvelopes?
A: One goal is that I’m much more careful about discretionary spending. I know that sounds a little trite, but for me it’s true. I set that goal and I’ve met it.
Q: What are your next financial goals?
A: I would say, immediately, is to finish paying off my car and a home repair. After that, I plan to pay off my mortgage.
Q: What advice would you give to new Mvelopes users?
A: Just think about learning it a little at a time and be sure to stay with it. It’s very different. Most budgets give you an initial report and then it’s static. Stay with it and trust the information as well as you would trust your bank account.
At the completion of my interview, I asked Marcia if she had any other comments to share. I appreciated her sharing these final words:
Intellectually, we’ve heard it all before. We know the ideas-common knowledge about managing money–but we don’t do it. And there will be setbacks, but I’m better equipped to deal with things. I can figure it out.
I’m grateful I made the decision and I’m grateful Lori was my coach. If I hadn’t had coaching, it would be unlikely that I would use the program the way it’s intended to be used. For some of us, we just need the coaching part. That was really instrumental for me.
Marcia, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insight with us. We wish you continued financial success and happiness.