The Fiscal Fitness Podcast

Episode 103:

Why I Left My Teaching Career to Become a Full-Time Financial Coach

See the companion blog post and listen here

Download the PDF version of the transcript here.

Host name: Jaclyn Wise

 

Hi there. My name is Jacqueline Wise. I am one of the coaches on the Fiscal Fitness team. I am also one of the hosts of this podcast. 

Welcome back to the Fiscal Fitness podcast. I’m so excited to have you here with us today. And if you are new to Fiscal Fitness, we are a Phoenix based company who offers one-on-one financial coaching to our clients all over the United States and really all over the world. I am actually based in Ohio. Some of our other coaches are based in Phoenix. So right now I’m getting to experience some really beautiful fall colors. As the leaves are changing. I have a feeling that my friends in Phoenix are not getting to experience that right now, but wherever you are listening from, welcome. Like I said, we’re so excited you’re here and I’m personally very excited to share this topic with you.

I’m going to get a little bit personal, a little bit vulnerable and really share some things that I used to struggle with because I want to show you that no matter what mistakes you have made with your money, no matter where you’re currently at financially, you can still get ahead with your money. There is still hope for you to get ahead.

And so in today’s episode, I’m going to share with you why I left my very stable, very secure position as a public school math teacher to become a full-time financial coach. And I think that a lot of times when we meet financial professionals, we kind of assume that they are somebody who’s just naturally good at money. Maybe they have some kind of degree or professional training in finance, or maybe they’ve just never made big money mistakes before. And that’s why they’re able to get so far ahead. And in my situation, that is a hundred percent not true. And so I’m going to share my story with you, of how I got into financial coaching. I’m going to sprinkle in some tips along the way.  Things I have learned to hopefully help you also improve the way you manage your money. This has been a work in progress for me over the past few years, and I’m really excited to share this story with you today.

So I’m actually going to take you back to 2015. And in that year I was six years into my teaching career. I taught math anywhere between grades four through eight, and I was still completely stressed about my money. I thought I had done everything the way I was quote unquote supposed to; the way I had been told to. Go to college, get a degree, get a full-time job right out of school. And I thought that by then. six years into my career, I should be better financially. I thought that making more money and a significant amount more compared to what I made as a high school or college student, that that would equate to it being easier to manage my money.

And while I know that increasing your income can help. If you are not planning what to do with that increased income ahead of time, we all know how out of control things can get. And that’s what was happening for me. And even more specifically, what was happening for me is that I had really no idea what was going on in my bank account. I had a head in the sand, ostrich kind of approach. I was afraid to look at my bank balance. I was worried that when I looked, I would be ashamed of my spending habits or that I would hate knowing and realizing I couldn’t afford all the things I wanted. I had all of my bills on autopay, which don’t get me wrong. We are not anti auto pay. We think it can be a great way to help you automate some of your money management.

But for me, I was using auto pay as a kind of set it and forget it approach because I didn’t want to stay engaged in my finances. And that’s when we can get into a little bit of a dangerous place. I would have things happening, like cards would expire. So my auto pays wouldn’t go through and then you start getting the emails or the nasty phone calls and voicemails telling me that once again, another payment didn’t go through and,  I had to sort it out and show all the money was there. It’s just my card expired. I was embarrassed when that would happen. And I really felt like I wasn’t an adult with my money, even though I was six years into my full-time teaching career.

So one of the first things I did is I tried to have my dad teach me how to do it, but his approach was a little old fashioned. In my opinion, he would take out his checkbook, a big calculator, a notepad, and this huge stack of receipts. And then he would sit down and track every single penny for the month. And here at Fiscal Fitness, I want you to know that we teach our clients ways to avoid having to track every single penny of your spending, but still make sure that your spending habits don’t prevent you from making financial progress.

And so I really didn’t like my dad’s approach. So my solution was, well, I’m just going to wing it. And that’s what wasn’t working for me. And it resulted in me feeling super paycheck to paycheck on paper that shouldn’t have been true. There definitely should have been more months than not that had cushion, but that wasn’t the reality of what was happening for me. And the reality was I wasn’t making progress, paying down my debt or really increasing my savings.

I was just kind of staying the same and floating from one paycheck to the next. And I would have things happen like this one specific experience I remember, and, and similar experiences happened where I went in the fall to go update my teacher wardrobe. And I remember shopping off of the clearance rack. I literally remember buying a pair of pants for $4, but I probably spent more on that shopping trip than I would,  my monthly average toward clothes. And then on the way home from the mall, I would stop at the grocery store and I live by myself. So groceries for the week were super inexpensive for me. And I would be sitting in the drive through line about to order my dinner.

And I would be thinking to myself, Oh my God did all of the money. I just spent on clothes and food. Plus all of my bills that hadn’t been drafted from auto pay yet. And honestly that I had no idea which ones were drafting, how much they were, what day specifically they would come out on. Plus my rent check that was due in the next couple of days and was due before my next payday. When all of those things cleared from my checking account, would I have enough to make it to payday?

So I was sitting in the drive-through line and I ordered off of the dollar menu just to be safe, which is what I normally ordered off of anyway. I would rush home, run up into my apartment. I would hold my breath as I was logging into my bank account. And I would wait to see what the numbers would say. And I would be grabbing my stack of paper bills that were,  sitting on the kitchen counter and hoping there wasn’t one hiding somewhere else in my apartment and logging into my email to pull up any bills that had been emailed to me and trying to compare what’s the due date to, when does it actually draft and how much is coming out this month?

And it was this frantic confusing, frustrating experience. And this happened to me more than once. And sometimes the reality would be I’m okay. I have a few hundred dollars of cushion and I would be pleasantly surprised because I literally had no idea up to that point, what was going on in my bank account. But sometimes I would have an experience like this, where I would say, okay, I’m not going to go into the negative after all these things clear, but I cannot spend one more penny between this weekend and payday because I’m barely going to make it.

And sometimes I would have an experience like payday was on Friday, which was the third rent was due on the first, which was a Wednesday. And so I would decide to write my rent, check on Thursday, mail it out on Thursday. So my landlord couldn’t get it until Friday. And that was payday. So that one, it was that’s when it was safe for it to actually be cashed. And,  I would cross my fingers and hope I wouldn’t get hit with a late fee.

And,  honestly my parents would have bailed me out during that time. And I’m very fortunate they could have done that, but I never wanted to ask my dad for help because I knew he was going to be telling me,  this is because you’re not tracking your spending and you need to sit down with your checkbook and your calculator and all those things. And I just didn’t want to have that conversation and I didn’t want to make them think that I wasn’t being responsible with my money.

And so that was my experience all of the time. And it was so stressful not to have awareness around my spending. And I would think to myself I’ve been working full-time for six years, shouldn’t I have enough money by now to not feel this way all the time. And I’d be seeing my friends going on vacation. I’d be thinking how are they affording to do that? I would love to go on vacation, but in my six years of teaching, I went on two vacations on one of those. My parents paid for 90% of my expenses. And I was just confused on how I couldn’t afford to take a vacation every now and again.

And like I said before on paper, I should have had plenty left over every single month. But if you’re in that situation where on paper, it looks like you should have enough. You know, that that’s not always the experience that you’re actually seeing in your finances. Oftentimes when we’re working with clients, we have lots of clients that on paper show that they should have money left over every month, but that’s not the experience they’re having.

Maybe they know that because they’re not making tons of progress and their goal of paying down their debt or maybe they’re just not making consistent progress. And the interest charges are setting them back way more than they want them to. Or maybe their focus isn’t debt. Maybe it’s increasing their savings, but the same thing might be happening or not making tons of progress or tons of consistent progress, putting money into their savings. Or maybe they do put a big chunk into savings, but life happens, a bad month happens and they have to pull money back out to cover their expenses. And you know, that could also be happening with credit card debt. You could be paying off debt and then back in and again, and I call that the yo-yo effect, whether it’s happening with your debt or your savings, that experience is so frustrating.

And this is so much more common than you think. And because money is sometimes a little bit of a taboo subject, personal finance, nobody’s really talking about how they’re going through this and normalizing it. And there’s not a lot of education out there about how to fix it. And so I was in that exact same boat myself. So like I told you before we are,  five years ago, I’m six years into my teaching career and my husband and I were about to get married. And we were sitting in premarital counseling and the counselor was telling us money is one of the leading causes of stress. It’s one of the leading causes of conflict and of divorce. And I had heard that before, but hearing that just a couple of months before my wedding, I thought, okay, Jaclyn, you are not afraid to to fight.

You will stand up for yourself. You see things as my way or the highway. You are very black and white and all things that I have tried to work on over the past five years. But honestly just naturally not a person who is afraid to ask or maybe more honestly demand my way. And knowing that I was as stressed as I was financially coupled with my not afraid of an argument nature. I knew that financial stress, that money could be a point of contention for my husband and me, and could even potentially jeopardize our marriage. And I want you to know that if you’re married and your marriage is struggling because of financial stress, there is still hope. I have been there. I have been through it and I can see the other side of it now. And one of the biggest things we do for the couples we work with is finally help them get on the same page with their finances, whether they are sharing every penny together or keeping things completely separated, we help them to experience harmony with their money.

And so we were sitting in the counselor’s office and mentally I drew a line in the sand and I said, enough is enough. My husband is worth it to me to figure this out. And so we got married in July. And then one of the things we did in October of that same year is that we bought a house. And then we decided to take a course on personal finance. And if you listen to the podcast episode I did several weeks ago about my top five money mistakes,  that our decision to purchase the house, even though we love it, the timing of it and the cost of it and things like that, that was one of the top five financial mistakes we’ve ever made. So if you want to listen to that episode, it’s episode number 92, “coach Jaclyn’s top five money mistakes,” and you can go back even further. I think it’s in the sixties or seventies of our episodes to hear coach Kelsa’s money mistakes and coach Jill’s money mistakes episodes too.

So that first tip I have for you today is before you make a big financial decision, like building or buying a home, having a baby switching careers I would really recommend hiring a financial coach to help you navigate the impact that that will have on both the day-to-day side of your money and the financial outlook you’ll have for the future. So we’re sitting in this course and it was a great course. It,  taught me a lot of things. I didn’t know about personal finance and really lit more of a fire and a spark in my heart to want to do things more responsibly.

But I believe that the course fell short for us in two ways. The first way is that the person who was leading the course was very much about restriction when you’re following his step by step process and would say things don’t step foot in a restaurant. If you’re still in debt, unless you’re working at the restaurant and you know, you need to live on a rice and beans kind of grocery budget, and definitely don’t spend money on vacations or,  other pleasures, or wants that you have,  make an extreme sacrifice today to put yourself in a better position tomorrow. And not that any of that is necessarily bad, but that level of restriction didn’t appeal to me personally. And I felt guilty about it. I wanted to be able to use the money I was working so hard to make, to enjoy my life a little bit, to be able to travel with my husband before we have kids and have to figure out,  are we taking them with us? And now we’re just doing all kid friendly activities. Are we leaving them at home and need to coordinate who’s watching them, do we need to take shorter trips because of that?

I wanted to be able to just travel and go on some adventures with my husband. And now I no longer feel guilty about wanting that for myself, because I know from our work with clients who have tried that restrictive of an approach, that it is extremely difficult to maintain that for a very long time. Most people just do not have a strong enough sense of follow through and they’ll fall off. You know, money is not just about adding and subtracting. It’s not just dollars and cents. There’s so much psychology behind the way we handle our money. And it’s kind of like the same thing with new year’s resolutions. There’s like, especially the ones who make health or fitness goals, 60% of resolutions fall off within the first 30 days of the new year.

And that’s because restriction at such a high level is really hard to maintain. And it’s because they’re trying to make too much of a change all at once. So while how that course did teach me a few good things. I did not like their approach, which was don’t spend any of your money. I just know now that that’s not realistic. And the second thing where the course fell short was in their approach to their system for managing money. So we often call that a budget and they really preached more of the traditional method of budgeting. And we believe at Fiscal Fitness that the traditional method has so many flaws and kinks in the system that are what caused most people to fall off when they’re trying to budget, there’s some statistic out there around 80% of people cannot stick to their budget or some really high amount.

And we believe that it’s actually not that the people are the reason why they can’t stick to the budget. It’s the budget approach itself. So if you actually go and Google personal budget template, you will see millions of results. And most of them will look the same. They will have all of the income for the month at the top, all of the expenses organized below almost all the time expenses are organized by category. And then it’s a simple subtraction problem to figure out income minus expenses and show whether your income is higher than your expenses or vice versa. And the issue with that template is that all of our income does not hit on the first of the month for most of us. And all of our expenses hit right after that. And then our bank just kind of floats at whatever the difference is the rest of the month.

You know, this experience income comes in expenses go out more income comes in, more expenses, go out. Oftentimes expenses might need to go out for the month before a paycheck even hits. And some people have fluctuating incomes. So realtors or other people who are paid on a commission, hourly workers, their income might be all over the place. But even if you’re somebody who gets paid every two weeks, like my husband and you’re getting the exact same amount,  that you have two months out of the year where you’re getting three paychecks.

So if you’re listening right now in October, when I’m recording this, it actually might be a three pay month for you. So I’m excited for you. I love those three payments, but the point I’m trying to make here is that all 12 months don’t look the same with our income and definitely not with our expenses.

And sometimes there’s even added complexity with married couples who are sharing expenses because their paychecks might be landing at different times. Like my husband’s is every two weeks, but mine is on two specific days of the month. So the same thing with your expenses, most of your bills are probably monthly, but some of them you might pay every three, six or even 12 months like Amazon prime, your sewer, your trash, maybe you have a high vet bill once or twice a year. And we call all of those expenses, whammies, and all of those are happening at different times. So no two months are ever the same. And all of that timing happening on all of those different schedules is what makes the traditional budgeting method fail. It doesn’t help us to see our money clearly.

So tip number two, I have for you something you can change if you’re experiencing that is to stop using a monthly budget and instead create a spending plan for each paycheck that you get that will really help you with some of the timing of the things you’re experiencing. And if you need help doing that, that is exactly what we are here for. It’s one of the things we specialize in.

So John and I took that course in October. It got us started on the right foot, but the budgeting process, that system, would take me two to three hours on a Saturday. And you guys, I am a huge nerd. I love spreadsheets. I love budgeting. But I knew that two to three hours was taking up way too much of my time. And it was because of all of those kinks and the traditional method, I was trying to track every dollar, which you heard me say earlier. We don’t believe in doing that. I was messed up with the dates. Sometimes we might have paychecks that wouldn’t even hit until the 13th or the 14th, and we might have half, or maybe even more than half of our bills due by that point in the month.

And so I really wrestled with that process for two years and I tried to make it shorter. And I kept telling myself,  as you get better at this, it’ll get shorter and shorter. It won’t take up so much of your weekend, but that wasn’t happening. And then I met coach Jill, who was one of our other coaches on the Fiscal Fitness team. And she taught me a few specific tweaks that I could make to my budgeting approach to make it a lot better than it was. And we actually do this with our clients and a session that we call a Eureka session. We look at what their current budgeting approach is, if they have one and we help them refine it. And if they don’t, we help them build it for the first time. So maybe we take their budgeting approach from non-existent to good.

Or from okay and kind of working to really great. And so coach Jill helped me to make a few tweaks. And those tweaks took my budgeting process from taking me two to three hours on a Saturday to 20 to 30 minutes. And that was a huge moment for me. One day I was updating my budget and I just kind of looked up and I realized that my life and my approach to money was pretty unrecognizable compared to what it had been. And even as I tell my story right now, honestly, I can barely even remember what it felt like to be that stressed about my money.

I a hundred percent know I was stressed,  on Facebook when you can see your on this day memories. And it shows me old posts, I often was asking questions about money, and I know I was worried about it, but honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve felt that financial stress that I have a hard time remembering what it feels like today.

And I SO want that for you too. Sometimes I’ll have this happen, even with how much I’m in our budget and updating it and keeping it up to date and things like that. I will still have the experience where I forget that it’s payday. I never worry about making it to payday any more. I don’t remember the last time that happened. It’s been several years at this point. And to be honest, I’m more focused on when my clients have pay days because we teach them that their paycheck is a trigger to implement some of the steps in the plan that we come up with together for them. So in the days leading up to their paydays, I might be helping them remember to set reminders, to update their budgets or,  make their transfers or whatever system we have helped them build in their plan.

Another benefit is our marriage is stronger than ever. And that does not mean that we see eye to eye on every single thing financially, but neither of us is stressed about our money. And I can confidently tell you that money is not a leading cause of stress or conflict in our home. And I’m so thankful that whenever we have kids, they will never have to experience that.

So tip number three for you is that if you are feeling any of those things, if you want to have that transformation in your own life, if you are feeling like you’re spinning your wheels or you’re stressed, or you’re fighting with your partner, please reach out to us. We would love to help you figure out this thing called personal finance, because I can tell you from firsthand experience, the other side of financial stress, the side where you’re through, it is an amazing place to be. And you deserve to get to experience that for yourself.

So when I had those two pieces in play, both the learning, how to set financial goals, to be more responsible, things like that, and be able to enjoy my money along with learning, how to effectively budget. We were able to take all the vacations I wanted to take and still crush our debt payoff goals, and then our savings goals and what I realized that those two things were happening for me. And I had had so much transformation myself. I thought that I can help other people do this too. And so where I began with financial coaching is I did it on a volunteer basis. I would hear people talking about money in the lobbies at church, and I’d be like, Hey, let’s meet up at Starbucks. I’ll help you figure some things out. And then I eventually created my own little group at my church with just five couples at a time.

And I would teach them my budgeting approach. And I started to have family and friends ask me what we were doing because they were seeing us being able to go on vacations and talking about not having to use a credit card and things like that. And as those people were getting results, I was falling more and more in love with this process of helping them. And I decided I could make this a little bit more strategic help even more people if I create a little side business out of it. So that is exactly what I did. And I called it. My last name is Wise. So I called it the Wise Way and my paying clients were getting even better results than the people who I was just volunteering to help. And,  I was able to even more effectively walk them through this process, teach them to be more effective at managing their money.

You know, stay present to their goals, build a system that’s actually sustainable, not super restrictive. And I was finding that coaching them and teaching them was so energizing to me. And I was getting to know the Fiscal Fitness team even better. I went through their financial coach training. And then when coach Kelsa who, like I said before, she is our OG financial coach. She is the CEO of Fiscal Fitness. When she reached out to me about me becoming the third coach on our team, I realized I would be able to help even more people because of the business that she had already built from the ground up. And I would be able to make even more of an impact than I was able to make on my own and have access to so many more resources to help people. And while it wasn’t easy to walk away from a very stable and secure teaching career and honestly, a career that I truly loved, but was becoming less and less of a good fit for my personal lifestyle.

It was a very easy yes, in terms of knowing that I would love what I was doing every single day, that it wouldn’t feel like work. It would feel like fun. And honestly, I can say that coaching does not feel like work. And on top of that,  a lot of people said to me, but you make such an impact in teaching and that’s a hundred percent true. And I miss the more widespread impact that I was making through my teaching career. But I feel like the impact I’m making now is even more significant. It’s a more condensed impact in each person’s life. And so I ended up closing up shop at the wise way. I brought all my clients from there over to the Fiscal Fitness family. And that’s how I got where I am today, which is coaching with Fiscal Fitness.

So if you’re hearing my story and you’re thinking, wow, I really want this for myself. I want to experience that transformation and how I feel about my money. I would love to have a conversation with you and see if I can be that coach Jill in your own life, and give you that leg up to go from this place of not having any awareness or clarity about what’s going on with your money, not having a good game plan in place, maybe feeling guilty about your spending or your debt or your lack of savings. Or maybe just frustrated because you’re trying to track every single penny and it’s taking you way longer than you want it to take. I would love to help you go from that place to a place where you feel confident about your financial decisions, where you don’t feel stressed about paying bills or making it to payday because you’re just executing this plan that we create together.

And a plan that you know is working for you. So if you’re listening to this right now and it’s stirring something up inside of you, if you’re thinking, “wow, I want this for myself. If you’re wondering if it’s even possible”, I am here to tell you it is a hundred percent possible. Coach Jill actually has a very similar story to mine. Her background is in pharmacy, not in finance. And she was also even as a pharmacist, incredibly stressed with her own finances. And she actually worked as a client of fitness Fitness first to accomplish her own financial goals before becoming one of our coaches herself. So we would love that opportunity to talk to you, to see if our coaching is a good fit for your situation, regardless of whether you decide to hire us as your coaches or not. I cannot recommend enough taking that first step and seeing this change in your life.

I don’t ever stress about managing my money anymore. I know the plan I have is beautiful that it’s working and we would love to help you build that into your own life. So remember, you can book that free 15 minute call with one of us to explore that. Just head to our website, it’s www.FiscalFitnessPHX.com.

Thanks again so much for being part of our podcast episode today. And we will see you here back next time on the Fiscal Fitness podcast. 

 

If you would like more information about how we can help you take the stress out of money with one-on-one financial coaching feel free to join our private Facebook group by going to Facebook.com/groups/fiscalfitnessmoney. And if you have a passion for personal finance and are interested in helping others, take the stress out of money by becoming a financial coach, check out our financial coach training program at www.financialcoachacademy.com and join our free Facebook group for financial coaches by searching Facebook for financial coaches unite. We’ll see you next episode where we’ll help the world take the stress out of money.