Money coach, Ali, on the importance of good financial habits and finding work-life balance

One sunny morning, on the outskirts of Epsom, we caught up with Ali and learned all about her journey to becoming an Octopus MoneyCoach. Previously in the photography business, Ali retrained as a transformational life coach five years ago. She lives with her husband and two kids.

Hi Ali! We’ll start with the most important question of all – if you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be?

I think it would have to be one of the biggest, best life coaches out there – those ones who get up on stage. Someone like Mel Robbins. I’d love to do a TED talk.

What would your superpower be? 

Teleportation. I love travelling, so I’d explore the world, see things and rob banks. (Just kidding!) Like that film Jumper.

And what would you take to a desert island?

My Kindle. 

That makes sense … your house is filled with books! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Of course. I got married when I was 24 and moved to New Zealand for three or four years – my husband’s a Kiwi. Work brought us back and we now live in Epsom with our two children. I used to run a photography business, but stumbled across some self help books one day and my entire world changed. I realised that that was what I really wanted to do, to help people. So then I studied transformational life coaching at a centre in London and I’ve been doing it ever since! 

From life coaching to financial coaching – how did you make the leap?

Over lockdown I started looking at my own family’s finances. I really started focusing on it, learning how to invest, what we need to save to retire, if we’re on the best bill rates and so on. I was going through the whole process when my sister sent me an article about Octopus MoneyCoach. I wanted to help people like me, who didn’t have a massive lump sum of cash. You know, the small business owners and the people who are trying their best but just might not have all the information. 

What was your opinion of financial coaching before you started training?

I’d never even heard of it! You know about business coaching and life coaching, but financial coaching was new to me. I’d always assumed you could only get support from a very expensive financial advisor. 

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Are there any experiences with clients that stand out so far?

One client I had, had quite a lot of debt. She really wanted to start saving, but we discussed her different options and she ultimately decided it would be more effective to pay off bigger chunks with less interest, and start saving a little later down the line. It was a small detail, but a massive turning point for her feeling in control of her debt.

What do you think the role of a good financial coach is?

I love to help people try and create good habits. Changing small things can make a massive difference. Even just being aware of your current financial habits is so powerful. I think people are afraid of coaching because they think they’ll have to completely overhaul their lifestyle. Not have any fun and save every penny of their money. But actually it’s just small bits here and there. Over time, compound interest has such a big impact. 

As a society, why do you think we find it so awkward to talk about money?

It’s just one of those taboo topics isn’t it, along with sex and death. You don’t really grow up talking about it and it isn’t taught at school. It’s very interesting because I’m also a Scouts leader and they’ve just introduced a new money badge – teaching the kids all about finances and how to save. It’s so important to start talking about these things at a young age. We should all try and make it an open conversation, get rid of those stiff upper lips! 

What do you personally like most about coaching?

Being your own boss. I think balance is the most important thing. I always wanted something I could fit around my family, because for me, that’s my number one priority. You’re in complete control of your hours, your time, your money. I think that’s super powerful. 

What’s the best piece of money advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t spend what you earn and then save, save what you need and then spend. 

And what advice would you give to your younger self?

That money matters. I was always looked after by my parents, so I grew up never really looking at money intensely enough. It meant I had no respect for it, so I never really earned what I wanted because I thought it didn’t really matter. Now, I know you can have a massive impact on your kids’ future and your retirement, if you take care of it. 

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