We continue to feel the excitement generated by the success of our coaching program. Liz (from Colorado), one of the participants in the coaching program, recently completed several coaching sessions and I had the opportunity to interview her about her coaching experience and her use of Mvelopes.
Liz answered the following questions:
Q: How many coaching Sessions did you complete?
A: I completed the first package–I believe it was six sessions.
Q: What coaching session(s) did you find most valuable?
A: For me, although all of the sessions were helpful, there were two sessions that were the most valuable for me. The first was the session where we set up the budget for short-term and long-term needs. Part of my income is based on a commission plan, and it varies from month to month. I currently don’t have any debt, other than my mortgage, but I really needed to get back on track with things like car maintenance, home maintenance, etc. I always put expenses on my credit cards, but I pay them off each month. I had a sizeable tax bill come due (from a previous year) that I hadn’t expected and, because I’d set funds aside for future needs, I was able to take care of that. The second session that was very helpful was where we worked on a plan to build savings.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you take control of your money?
A: I think the biggest thing is, like the first answer, being able to budget for the month ahead, as well as now. I used Mvelopes for a year and a half before I got any coaching and I thought I knew what I was doing. My first session was very eye-opening for me. I learned that I was doing a lot of things incorrectly. I am a single mom of three boys, so time is of the essence. Having Mvelopes being so automated has relieved a ton of time, and a ton of stress. It is so nice to be able to stay on top of things rather than just trying to get caught up. I no longer have to manage a pile of receipts, multiple bank statements with multiple accounts, etc. My financial information is all in one place now.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you reduce consumer debt?
A: As mentioned, I am lucky that I don’t have debt. I’m also grateful that I don’t get back into debt. I’m constantly on the run with three children and a full-time job that requires a lot of travel. It would be easy to get into the credit card trap and incur debt that I can’t pay off. Now I know what I can do and what I can’t do.
Q: How has the coaching program helped you reduce your stress related to money?
A: Now that I am funding my envelopes proactively and being able to see the budget for this month, next month, and the coming months (using the various view options with the program), I know how much I have set aside for groceries, taking the kids to the movies, etc. It has also been extremely helpful in helping to set my kids’ expectations. Now when I say, “Nope, we don’t have that in the budget this week,” they understand what that means.
Q: How much has your budgeting and money management knowledge increased since you started the coaching program?
A: Setting a budget and managing it was something I’d always done (through Quicken and other software programs), so my knowledge didn’t increase all that much. However, Nick (my coach) was able to help me visualize the reality of my budget. As we worked together, he helped me by suggesting that I imagine in my mind having various envelopes spread out over my kitchen counter. He helped me visualize the process of putting cash into each of the envelopes on the counter. I was able to connect the budget with the software program so my budgeting mentality is always at work.
Q: How much has the knowledge of the envelope method helped you manage your money?
A: Once I actually started doing it right–a lot. Now I can see how much money I have set aside to pay the credit cards every month. When I charge something with my American Express card, the money is automatically set aside so I have the funds to pay it off every month. I like to use my Amex card so that I get the benefits (points, etc.), but I also want to be diligent about paying it off. I have an expense account for work and with all the travel I do, I am constantly needing to keep track of expenses. Using Mvelopes has really helped simplify that process and I don’t lose track of business expenses.
Q: How have your attitudes about budgeting and money management changed since you started the coaching program?
A: For me, personally, it re-cemented the things I was thinking about before. I was running a budget in the past, but had strayed away from it a bit. Once I began the coaching program, it really cemented for me that this is what I need to do. When money is flowing in and out and you’re not tracking it quickly, it’s easy to think that you can charge something and pay for it later. But with the budget mentality, that’s the last thing you want to do.
Q: How has coaching helped you gain a clear overall picture of your spending?
A: Not long ago, my company gave us a 5 percent pay cut, so I had to adjust my budget. I knew where I needed to make those changes. When you fund your envelopes based on your paycheck, you can quickly see everything. I adjusted my grocery and entertainment budget, I was able to quickly pay off my car, and I was able make the right decisions.
Q: How has your Mvelopes usage changed since starting the coaching program?
A: Since completing the coaching program, I’m so much more comfortable using the product. Because of my busy schedule, I’m only able to access the program every couple of weeks and I have a lot of transactions to assign, but I can quickly and easily assign them. I don’t have a knot in the pit of my stomach wondering if I’ll be able to fund everything.
Q: What advice would you give to new Money for Life Coaching participants?
A: It’s a must–you need to do. After each session, make sure that you do what is asked so that you are learning not only how to use the system, but also how to implement it within your life. The software can only do so much. You need to do your part, too.
After speaking with Liz about her coaching experience, I then asked her the following questions about her use of the Mvelopes product.
Q: How long have you been using Mvelopes?
A: Approximately 2 to 2½ years.
Q: How has Mvelopes assisted you in living within your income?
A: Well, it has assisted me by making it possible to set up the envelope budget and live within that budget.
Q: How much consumer debt have you been able to eliminate during that time?
A: Other than my mortgage, I had a car payment, but was able to pay that off in January.
Q: How much have you been able to save while using Mvelopes?
A: Not nearly as much as I would like to. Before the coaching, I wasn’t focused on saving-I was just trying to get by. Now, I have approximately $1,000 in savings more than I had before.
Q: How much has your average checking account balance increased while using Mvelopes?
A: I always have a reserve now. Because of the fact that I have a job that pays commission, it’s hard to specifically state an average increase, but I have a good month’s reserve.
Q: What financial goals have you achieved while using Mvelopes?
A: Staying out of debt and starting to increase my savings.
Q: What are your next financial goals?
A: To get at least six months’ worth of savings built up and take the next step into increasing my investments.
Q: If married, how has Mvelopes helped you better collaborate with your spouse?
A: Not applicable.
Q: What advice would you give to new Mvelopes users?
A: To sign up for coaching. You may think you know what you’re doing, but you don’t. I’ll sometimes go out on the blog and forum and, as evidenced by the questions being asked, I realize that there are many people who could learn and benefit from coaching. It’s only a software tool and you might be able to manage and use it properly, but are you trying to just balance a checkbook or are you trying to build financial stability? There’s a big difference and I’m confident that I now have the knowledge to build financial stability.
Liz, I truly enjoyed speaking with you. Your enthusiasm about our coaching program was contagious. I appreciated your great sense of humor and your candid and honest answers to my questions. Just like you, I am confident that you will continue to be successful as you build financial stability for yourself and your three handsome sons! We wish you continued financial success and much happiness.