Category Archives for Interviews

Financial Coaching for Couples – what’s it like?

I worked with Adam and Lana over two months in early 2019.  They very kindly agreed to share their experience in an interview.

What attracted you to the idea of financial coaching?

Money has always played a difficult role in our relationship – partly because we have quite different habits and hang-ups around money, and partly because we’ve always had significantly different levels of income.

It ended up causing fights or hostility pretty regularly. Lana, who has less money, would often become anxious and secretive in relation to money, and when she had financial problems she would withdraw rather than talk about them.  That made any discussions relating to money, no matter how trivial, potentially difficult, and led to Adam feeling that he was having to sideline all of his life goals because they involved making big money decisions that would create anxiety for Lana.

What expectations did you both have? Or, what were you hoping to achieve?

We both hoped to understand more about how the other thinks about money, which could help us to communicate better and without creating conflict.  We hoped that this could lead to us being able to combine our finances sooner rather than later.

Lana hoped it would improve her psychological relationship with money, and enable her to take a greater role in us making better financial decisions. She also wanted to be more honest with money. She wanted to be able to take better control of her personal finances, and not feel resentful about spending money she couldn’t afford.

Adam hoped he could get some advice on things like pensions, wills, inheritance and life insurance to enable him to start putting plans in place for all of those things.

What aspects were most useful?

For Lana, understanding how she feels about money and why she behaves the way she does was incredibly useful – that’s helping to create an underlying change. For Adam, it was helpful to be able to talk about his fears of what might happen if we didn’t start making positive money choices, for example, if we put off getting a mortgage for too long. He also found it helpful to be able to understand and listen to Lana talk about her relationship with money, and to help her feel more confident and supported. He can also trust her to make good financial decisions now, whereas before he felt like she might make bad choices. We both came away feeling much stronger as a couple and like we were on the same team.

Were there any surprises or unexpected outcomes?

The big surprise for us was that it led to us wanting to get married! We realised that if we could manage to join our finances, then we could manage to join our whole lives.

Did you find any aspect of the process challenging?

Adam didn’t find it challenging at all, because Catherine made the atmosphere so welcoming and relaxed. Lana still found it a bit emotionally challenging at times – it brought up some tough feelings and memories, and it meant having some difficult negotiations about where her lines were. But it was still so much easier to do this in a guided and productive environment than to try and do it alone.

What are you doing differently as a result of financial coaching?

We’re going to stop paying for everything 50/50 and start sharing most of our money. We’ll contribute towards our rent and bills in proportion to the size of our individual incomes, and both have our own personal spending money as well. Lana has also set up a Monzo account which is helping with budgeting, and a high-interest short-term savings account. Longer term, we’re making plans to get a mortgage together.

Do you have any tips for other couples on managing finances?

Communication is the important thing, because there’s no one right or wrong way to do money. The thing is, it can be really hard to communicate effectively – that’s why a financial coach is so helpful. They create a very friendly, non-judgemental environment, know which questions to ask and make sure that both of you are listened to. We both felt like we understood each other and ourselves better, and we worked out our problems so much more quickly and harmoniously than we could have done on our own – if we could have at all!

If you’re interested in financial coaching for couples, please get in touch.

What’s financial coaching like? Interview with Emma Mills-Sheffield

Many people are unsure as to what financial coaching involves. In this post, I interview one of my recent clients, who shares her expectations and experiences.

Emma Mills-Sheffield has recently become a self-employed coach and facilitator. Using skills from the business world and real-life experiences of rebuilding a life after grief, Emma works with people who want to do more – those who want to grow more, to give back and live a life of true purpose. You can find out more about her work at

What attracted you to the idea of financial coaching?

I wanted to understand the relationship between business and personal finances. They’re so intertwined. It’s a case of needing to know how much money from the business we can transfer to the household budget. What’s the most sensible way of doing it? I’m very logical – I like a spreadsheet – so I was looking for a structure to help me think about what needed to happen.

I also needed to confront some of the previously unspoken issues: saving for a pension, putting aside money for tax, and building an emergency fund in case my laptop explodes.

Also, it was an opportunity to talk through big decisions such as whether I should be a sole trader or form a limited company.

So, it was about exploring all these areas to help me decide the right way to go. I needed a good grounding.

What did you expect from financial coaching?

I expected it to be very focussed on pensions and savings. What I hadn’t expected was the tools that can help me right now – for instance how to think about cashflow. I got a toolkit of stuff that I could use right away. I’d imagined that financial coaching might be more theoretical, but it was actually very practical.

I had expected to look at the past to examine my relationship with money, and that was very helpful in understanding my attitudes now.

What aspects were most useful?

As I mentioned, the toolkit was really useful, but it was also your experience in having used these tools yourself. You knew what would be useful, and when. You were aware of what would be happening in the future. There was a strong mentoring element, as well as the coaching. You got me to consider things I hadn’t thought of.

Were there any surprises?

I realised that I need to crack on with my pension! Ideally tomorrow.

Also, talking through the ‘limited company’ versus ‘sole trader’ issue and looking at dividend calculations made me realise I could earn more than I’d thought. I could earn more than I do currently, but pay less tax. And I can put a bit more in my pension.

After talking this through, it gave me the confidence to speak to an accountant and say “This is what I want to do, can you help me?” rather than just handing everything over to them. That made me feel that I’d get the right support for the next steps I was taking.

Did you find any aspect of the process challenging?

Considering the future and the long-term stuff. We tend to brush it under the carpet. But it’s important to be honest with ourselves and think about what’s going to happen when we’re old and grey. It was a constructive push and the right thing for me. There was no prying or judgement, so I felt completely comfortable – it was a safe space.

What are you doing differently as a result of financial coaching?

Planning better for cashflow, and also thinking carefully about what I need to put away for the future. So that’s definitely progress for me.

Do you have any tips for others on how to make the most of financial coaching?

Have a long, hard talk with yourself: “What about the future?” “What are my expectations, in terms of pension etc?”. Be really granular with your cashflow so you know exactly what you’re spending. Then you can start challenging it. You have to be honest with yourself first to get the most out of it.