Here is the backstory: It is the spring of 2005, and we are all looking forward to spending more time outside. We have a 5-year-old son named Alex, and another boy due in June. We also have a puppy named Anna, who we’ve had for about 9 months. A year prior, Alex had begged for months to get a dog, and the conversations and negotiating were nonstop until we finally agreed that we would get a dog ONLY if Alex was in charge of feeding the puppy and picking up dog rockets (dog poop).
As any parent knows, kids promise you the moon until the newness and excitement wears off (which, at 9 months, it was beginning to mellow). After that, either the arguing and groundings start, or the responsibility lands squarely on the parents’ shoulders. I knew the yard needed to be cleaned up, the grass needed to be mowed, and a really good dog rocket patrol was in order, so I decided that I wanted to try something different.
I was going to outsmart my 5-year-old and needed to do some planning. Alex and I had just finished a nice big lunch, and I had quietly decided that spaghetti, garlic bread, and brownies were on the menu for dinner. As we are sitting at the table, I start telling Alex all the things I’m going to be doing in the yard, and that he needs to help me by picking up the dog rockets (let the grumbling begin).
So outside we go! It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the sky is blue with little white wispy clouds floating by, the birds are singing, and there is a light breeze (you know, a picturesque day). After we get our shoes on and before he runs off to the dirt pile, I remind him that he needs to pick up the dog rockets. Alex stomps over to the kid-sized shovel and grabs it, walks over to the dog rocket, goes to scoop the dog rocket, and stops. He looks at me, looks at the dog rocket, lifts up the shovel, and exclaims, “I’m not doing it!!!” Now since I had already anticipated this challenge, I am able to keep my cool and look at him and say, “Okay, but no work, no eat.” Alex responds, “fine, I’m not hungry.” I respond “I would hope not, we just finished lunch,” and to the separate parts of the yard we go.
A short time later Alex comes to me and asks what I meant about “no work, no eat.” I respond, if dad doesn’t go to work, dad doesn’t earn money. If dad doesn’t earn money, we don’t buy food. If we don’t buy food, we don’t eat. So, no work, no eat.” I had planted the seed of information, but it was going to take time to process. Alex went back to playing and enjoying the day, periodically he would say, “I’m going to go do this”, or “I’m going to do that”, and rather than fighting him about it, I just said okay and kept doing the things that I needed to get done.
Finally, my tasks were done for the day, and I was heading inside to make dinner. I went over to Alex and told him that I was heading inside to fix spaghetti, garlic bread, and brownies for dinner. Alex responds, “ooh yummy, my favorite, I’m starved”. I tell him “no dinner until you do your work of picking up the dog rockets”, adding in, “by the way, it will be easier to pick them up when you can see them without holding a flashlight”.
He must have finally understood what I was saying, because after only being able to have water for a snack and the prospect of not eating his favorite dinner, he finally did his job and did it well. As we were eating dinner that evening, Alex made the comment “I am so glad that I get to eat!” After a pause, my husband asked “what do you mean buddy?” Alex then proceeded to tell him what I said about “no work, no eat”.
So how is coaching like picking up dog rockets? While the shovel was the tool, what Alex learned that day was the accountability that comes when you give someone your word, and the importance of committing to your responsibilities and establishing a good work ethic. He also learned that even when the new and shiny feelings wear off, you can’t give back someone (the puppy Anna) or something if it is too much work or you don’t want to take care of it anymore. What I learned that day is that if I create a plan and can see the possibilities, I can respond in a way that is calm, positive, and productive (In short, I’m smarter than a 5-year-old).
Financial coaching is a budgeting and planning life skill. It is about looking ahead to a goal and creating steps to reach that goal. Sometimes we need to address the underlying things that get in the way of our goals. Maybe someone is struggling because they were never taught how to manage money, or they get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, or they’re continuously getting caught off guard by this thing or that bill.
The internet is FULL of budgets, and ANYONE can give you a budgeting tool (like the shovel in our story) or tell you what to do. Financial coaching takes this to the next level by creating a personalized plan and giving you direction, guidance, support, and encouragement when you need it, all while you are learning about how to manage your money differently. Financial coaching will help you learn about your spending habits, save you money by paying off debts, empower you to choose what you want to spend your money on, create and reach goals, and build financial stability while building an emergency fund so you are prepared for any dog rockets life throws your way.
If financial coaching sounds like the missing piece of your financial puzzle, click here to schedule your free 15-minute Discovery Call, where we can begin to see the possibilities for your financial goals and start building a plan to start managing your money differently.