I recently had the privilege of interviewing Peter–a delightful Mvelopes member who lives in California. Peter and I discussed his recent experience with our coaching program. That discussion follows:
Q: How many coaching Sessions did you complete?
A: A total of five.
Q: What coaching session(s) did you find most valuable?
A: Definitely the sessions that dealt with review and instructions on how to use, apply, and navigate through the Mvelopes program. Reviewing the rules, theory and discipline of budgeting, while using Mvelopes, was also very helpful.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you take control of your money?
A: It helped me to realize that there are some lessons and disciplines I have to apply in order to be successful. In addition, I was able to realize the areas I was making mistakes and I learned effective ways to correct the mistakes and prevent them in the future.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you reduce consumer debt?
A: One of the things Lori (my coach) repeatedly told me is, “Peter, you have to live within your budget.” As simple as that sounds, it takes a lot to learn that concept and understand what it really means. When I started living within my budget, then good things started to happen for me. I stopped spending money that was not budgeted–money I didn’t have. I know it sounds so simple, but it was somewhat revolutionary for me. If I have to take money from an envelope to cover a purchase that hasn’t been budgeted, then that really makes me stop and think. Now my motto is–if it’s not funded, I don’t spend it!
Q: How has the coaching program helped you reduce your stress related to money?
A: My stress has been reduced a number of different ways. The stress between me and my wife has diminished to the point where it’s about 5 percent of what it used to be. As my wife and I continue to understand the program, that stress is reducing even more. It’s so nice now because my wife and I can both easily go to Mvelopes, look at it, and we don’t even need to have a discussion about it. Even though I’m managing the Mvelopes program right now, my wife also has access to it and can see everything herself. In fact, we were working on our budget just yesterday and we could both clearly see where the money is going. There’s no more guessing and no more confusion. Stress can be caused by confusion and unanswered questions. We have eliminated the confusion and we know exactly where our money is going now, so we have eliminated a lot of stress.
Q: How much has your budgeting and money management knowledge increased since you started the coaching program?
A: Actually, I had a lot of budgeting knowledge prior to participating in the coaching program. I read books and I had a good understanding of budgeting principles. In the past, I’d even utilized the “traditional” envelope budgeting system–where you physically put cash into paper envelopes. Mvelopes took that knowledge and put it in a system that made it useful. It helped me to realize, in a different way, that simple rules can truly become profound. It wasn’t so much that my knowledge increased, but it was facilitating that knowledge that was so powerful. Budgeting is no longer burdensome. It’s actually simple and easy!
Q: How much has the knowledge of the envelope method helped you manage your money?
A: As I mentioned, my wife and I had previously used the traditional envelope method of budgeting, with limited success. In fact, it was really lacking. At that time, I wanted my wife to be responsible for our budget and I wanted as little involvement as possible. I wanted my wife to just make sure all the bills were paid on time and to make sure we still had enough money to cover everything else! Obviously, that approach caused a lot of problems. It was just by chance that I found the Mvelopes software on the Internet. I went from not being involved with our budget at all to now being 100 percent involved–and my wife is now supporting me. That has been a big change for us!
Q: How have your attitudes about budgeting and money management changed since you started the coaching program?
A: I guess my whole set of concerns has changed. I’m no longer focused on managing the money and knowing where it’s going. Instead, I now think more in terms of maximizing the use of my money, really making progress, and getting ahead financially. Before, I was just trying to stay afloat and not go under. Now I’m no longer worried about going under. Instead, my desire is to make headway–I’m focused on getting ahead.
Q: How has coaching helped you gain a clear overall picture of your spending?
A: Prior to using Mvelopes and completing the coaching training, my wife and I really didn’t realize where our money was going. We’d make it, spend it, and wonder where it went. Those days are now gone. Actually, we really didn’t realize how dependent we were on credit cards before–we were utilizing credit cards too much. For the past 5-10 years, we were continually overspending and now that has changed. We’re now doing a good job of controlling our spending.
Q: How has your Mvelopes usage changed since starting the coaching program?
A: Prior to coaching, I wasn’t as comfortable with using it as I am now. I had a lot of questions and there were things I just wasn’t sure about. After coaching, it improved a lot more. It’s kind of hard to learn everything that’s available. The coaching experience really helped me to understand it. For awhile, I was using it every day, now I’m checking every other day, and it takes just minutes to keep up on everything.
Q: What advice would you give to new Money for Life Coaching participants?
A: It’s kind of hard to know what you need to know. Try to utilize the program as much as you can before you sign up for coaching. Write down questions and set aside time to get your questions answered. There’s no way to know what you need to know until you start using the program, so use it and write down questions.
After Peter and I discussed his coaching experience, I then asked him some general questions about his Mvelopes experience. That discussion follows:
Q: How long have you been using Mvelopes?
A: I started using the program in December 2009 and used it a little at a time. I purchased the book and was reading the book and using the program. Now I’m solely using the Mvelopes program (without the assistance of the book).
Q: How has Mvelopes assisted you in living within your income?
A: It has facilitated making it easier for me–and my wife–to monitor our finances. We don’t have surprises anymore. There are no more unanswered questions, such as: Why did you spend this? What was this purchase for? Now those purchases pop up in a day or two and we can drag and drop them into the appropriate envelopes. Also, if I happen to use my personal funds to buy something for the house, I want it taken out of the “household expenses” envelope. We’re tracking so much better.
Q: How much consumer debt have you been able to eliminate during that time?
A: I wouldn’t say that I’ve been able to reduce a significant amount of debt right now–perhaps a couple thousand dollars. However, I am working on paying off a loan in the near future. But what it has really helped me do is to not incur more debt, which has been great.
Q: How much have you been able to save while using Mvelopes?
A: Quite a bit. We used to live from paycheck to paycheck. We have now saved approximately $8,000!
Q: How much has your average checking account balance increased while using Mvelopes?
A: We went from having a few hundred dollars in our checking account to now maintaining an average balance of $7,000 to $10,000.
Q: What financial goals have you achieved while using Mvelopes?
A: One goal we’ve achieved has definitely been to monitor our finances. The second one is living with and maintaining a budget and actually living within that budget. Those are huge goals. We now have a plan in place to eliminate debt and we’re actually following the plan.
Q: What are your next financial goals?
A: As mentioned, we plan to pay off a loan in the near future. We want to fund a vacation and have the money set aside before we spend it. We’re going to eliminate consumer debt. We want to put three months of expenses aside. Those are our immediate goals.
Q: If married, how has Mvelopes helped you better collaborate with your spouse?
A: It has reduced the amount of frustration and stress that we’ve had to deal with in the past with regard to our finances.
Q: What advice would you give to new Mvelopes users?
A: Be patient. Read the material. Use the program and don’t try to do everything overnight. It could take a little while to input information and integrate it into your life. Just be patient and it’ll start coming around and will make sense. The more you and your spouse can agree on things, the easier it will become.
At the conclusion of our interview, I asked Peter if he had any final comments or questions. Here’s what he had to say:
Finances are a huge and vital part of people’s lives. People are simply not taught about finances. It’s more than just paying your bills on time. Young people starting out really need to educate themselves on finances and how to control them and how to integrate them into their lives. There are people who are really good with money. However, there’s also the reverse side where people are either living in bondage by being deep in debt or they’re so frugal that they’re afraid to spend. Learning to manage finances will have a positive affect on either of those two extremes. It will create the freedom to use money the way it’s supposed to be used instead of allowing the money to control you. You have to find your way–and I’ve found it!
Peter, thank you so much for taking time to share your experience with us. It was a privilege for me to be able to share your story!