Natasha, a business relationship manager for local government, has been working with a money coach for nearly two years. With a big love for movies and a daughter who’s wild about performing arts, Natasha told us about her dreams of a gorgeous garden and her journey to taking control of her finances.
Hi Natasha! So much has happened in the past year. How would you describe this time in your life?
This year’s been an epiphany– that’s the best way I can describe it. A bit of an awakening.
Wow, that sounds amazing. Tell me more.
Well, I’ve been coached, set some amazing boundaries in my life and spent a lot of time with my daughter. I’ve even got into meditation.
Let’s talk about financial coaching. Can you see the impact of the changes you’ve made with your coach?
Absolutely, because I literally do something every month to change the direction in which I’m going. We’ve been chipping away at my bills – looking at my phone bill, streaming services, condensing everything I’m paying to as little as possible, while still having everything for both me and my daughter. Now, not only do I have an end date for the student loan I’ve been paying off for the past 20 years – my disposable income is just so much more.
What does it mean to you that your daughter can see you educating yourself and taking control of your money?
It’s really important and I’m very open about it. To be honest, she’s in on it as well! She wants a new phone, so she’s been selling stuff on Facebook Marketplace. I’m showing her what it takes to get what you need and want but most importantly – how to save.
Are there any special goals you’re saving towards?
Yes! Saving for my daughter if she wants to go to university and buying a house…with a garden. Having somewhere I can decorate myself and put my own stamp on, so I can be the one inviting people over for barbecues.
The reality is many live month to month – what does it feel like to be able to plan ahead?
You know what? It’s so freeing. It’s been a gradual process of getting to this point where I’m massively in control of my money. Because when I started off I wasn’t and it was controlling me, but now money doesn’t lead me, I lead it.
What role did coaching play in your ‘year of epiphanies’ and taking control?
It’s raised awareness and helped me rethink my options. For instance, my coach and I spoke a lot about emergency savings, and through the pandemic I was at risk of losing my job, twice. It really was a massive insight, something that hadn’t occurred to me before. But doing this assessment, having somebody to talk about it with was so important. Now I have a plan.
So before having a coach, where would you have gone for advice like this?
Um…I would have had to try and figure it out myself, probably by Googling it.
Do you think there’s a difference between Googling and coaching?
There’s a massive difference between going and finding out stuff yourself and actually being told by a professional. You know when you’ve got a pain or ache? So you Google it, and Dr. Google tells you what’s wrong? But actually what you really want is a real doctor to tell you what’s wrong with you.
What were your thoughts on money coaching before?
It’s only whilst I’ve been doing it that I realised it’s coaching. And it’s been a form of uncovering things I didn’t necessarily know I needed to uncover – It’s been a bit of a journey.
Was it different from any other financial services you’ve been in touch with?
Yeah, my coach hasn’t been trying to sell me any products, he’s just been recommending things. I don’t like that hard selling tactic. You know I wasn’t suddenly given a list of people to go to for my will. It has purely been about coaching me as an individual, it feels like a product and a service solely for my own financial gain.
And how did you get on with your coach?
It’s been really good, almost like a coach friend. We have regular meetings on a monthly basis, and he hasn’t given me homework, just things to keep in mind – and it’s helped me be more conscious of my spending. It’s like a friend that says “Oh, that might not be a good idea.” It’s the kind of challenge and conversation you want. You can’t really have these open and frank chats with every single individual account that you hold, so to have that one person to bounce ideas off of is really helpful.
What advice would you give someone who doesn’t feel comfortable talking about money?
Rip the plaster off – if you don’t open yourself up to coaching, you don’t get to see the opportunities that are out there. And that it’s never too late. I spent a good part of my life feeling the effects of the stigma of being a single parent and not having enough money. But actually, now, we have more than enough – I’ve got choices now.