Let’s shift toward your financial knowledge, rather than the knowledge you may not have yet. To start, I want you to think about your own financial journey. Think back to when you first started to care about your money. Maybe you were in debt and one day sort of snapped out of it and decided NO MORE. Maybe you have been good with money your whole life – but can you pinpoint the time when you realized you cared about it?

Whenever you first started, whenever that was for you, what did you learn first? What did you care about at that very initial step one? Got that in your mind?

The Leap into Financial Coaching

Now fast forward to another point in time – when you first decided you wanted to coach people on their money. Do you remember that moment in time? I do. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was nervous and excited and had no idea what I was getting into. Gosh, I’m so glad I took that leap of faith way back when.

I’m curious: at that time, what were you telling yourself you needed to know about money in order to help someone? Maybe that time is right now- you’re just starting out and just recently decided that you want to help people better manage their money. What are you telling yourself you need to know about money?

The Knowledge Gap Myth

I talk to coaches almost everyday and one thing I hear over and over and over again is that they need to learn more about finances before they can launch their business, get a client or begin to help someone. Can you relate to that feeling? The feeling of needing more? The need to fill some imaginary gap?

Now compare those two things:

  1. what you learned first when you started to pay closer attention and make progress with your money vs.
  2. what you think you need to know in order to help an everyday person like who you were when you first started

Is the list of things you’re telling yourself you need to know right now vastly different or longer, than the list of things you actually needed to learn when you first set out to do better with your own money?

Why do you suppose that is? Why do you think you need to know so much about personal finance in order to help someone when you didn’t need to know any of that same stuff when you got ahead with your own money?

The Secret About Financial Knowledge

I want to tell you a secret: I promise you that you probably know way more about personal finance than I did when I started. Not only that but some of you know way more about personal finance than I do CURRENTLY. Like right now. That’s not me joking and I’m not exaggerating. Nor am I saying that to stroke your ego or as a way of putting myself down.

Real-World Impact

I have helped a lot of people with their money in really significant, life-changing ways.

In fact, as we were re-launching the website for Fiscal Fitness Phoenix, my own coaching practice, we pulled up all of our clients’ budgets all the way back to 2015. And we totaled up my clients, every dollar saved, and every dollar paid toward debt, you name it.

Since 2015, we have helped over 1,000 clients, to pay off over $38,000,000 in debt and save – get this – over $112,000,000! That’s over $12 million per year in savings or over $1m per month on average.

I have helped a lot of people and that feels sooo incredible. I want that for you, Coach. I know you want that. I know you dream of truly helping people.

Starting with What You Know

And the #1 thing stopping you from doing that is you thinking you need to learn something more about personal finance in order to do it. You don’t.

When you first start, you coach on what you already know.

If you know about getting out of debt, that’s where you start. If you know about managing your money after bankruptcy, that’s where you start. If you know about getting on the same page with a spouse, that’s where you start.

Then as clients need something new, you go and learn about that, you research it, you tap into others’ expertise, you develop a new skill set or new knowledge base then and based on the clients’ needs.

If you focus on acquiring knowledge about personal finance before you launch, you bog yourself down because you wind up researching stuff you don’t even need because you don’t know what you need and it just delays everything.

Start with what you ALREADY know.

The Imposter Syndrome Trap

Are you creating your own imposter syndrome? The more you tell yourself you need to learn and know, the more likely you are to feel stuck. That’s because you don’t know if the information you’re learning is even right or HOW it applies so all you see and feel is this massive gap. YOU are creating the gap! And it’s totally made up so you can’t ever actually fill it so you find yourself in this vicious cycle.

And the worst part about it is while you are experiencing this, you’re not helping anyone with the parts of money you already know a thing or two about!

Think about it this way- in the first few episodes of this series, I reviewed a total of 23 coaching techniques and models and 7 self-assessment tools. How many of those did you know even existed prior to listening to those episodes?

Many of you probably didn’t know about a lot of those and yet not knowing those things wasn’t stopping you from wanting to launch or for many of you, helping people. When it’s not on your radar, you don’t notice there’s even a gap!

I’m also willing to bet that some of you have helped a lot of people despite not knowing those models.

The Information Overload Challenge

Personal finance is the second most talked about topic on the internet (second only to marketing strategies). So chances are, you are aware of the plethora of money topics that exist and therefore you feel a gap. You know all of the things you don’t know. You’re aware of it and you’re letting it affect you and hold you back from helping people. Go re-listen to episode 27 of this podcast on the stages of learning.

You likely follow other financial professionals, maybe other financial coaches, you enjoy money topics just like me so you probably listen to different personal finance podcasts and read books… and you see these folks talking about a part of money perhaps you’re not knowledgeable in or it’s a part you feel as if you can’t speak to and it’s convincing you that you don’t know enough.

Embracing the Learning Journey

You have a knowledge gap. I have a knowledge gap too. We both have more we can learn about money and personal finance. That will always be true.

And you can still help people. Feeding the knowledge gap is a continuous process. It’s not something you do, you’re done, and then you launch. You do it while you help people and you determine what you need to learn based on what the client right in front of you needs you to learn.

Instead of thinking about the list of concepts you need to know, start with what you already know. Who can you help based on what you already know? Find that person and help them.

I know you want me to give you a precise list of the exact financial concepts you need to know to officially prove you are knowledgeable enough to feel good about yourself or your desire to call yourself a financial coach.

I wish I could give that to you. But that’s not how this works. Here’s how it works. Here’s your mantra coach:

Your Mantra

I know enough today.
I have more to learn.
Both of those things can be true at the same time.

Just like you need to meet your clients where they’re at, you also need to meet yourself where you’re at.

Avoiding Comparison

I want to encourage you to stop comparing yourself to other financial people. Surrounding yourself with other financial people can cause a sort of warped perspective of what our clients care about or what we think we need to know.

You will always find people who know about a certain subject matter more than you, more than me, more than 99% of people.

When I tell you that I don’t know as much as you, or other money geeks, about a whole slew of personal finance topics, I don’t feel bad about myself. That’s because I’m not comparing myself and my financial knowledge to other financial professionals. I compare myself and my knowledge to the clients I help everyday.

And guess what? I know more than the people who need my help. And I’m willing to bet you do too.

Managing Information Intake

I want to encourage you to limit the amount of time you spend listening to personal finance podcasts or reading personal finance blogs. Even in my own community, Financial Coaches Unite, I want you to be careful of how you’re consuming and engaging with the content.

In one sense it’s amazing because every week, many times a week, someone is posting and asking questions about a personal finance topic. Questions about “state-wide benefits as assistance programs” and “mortgage resources for a client who was recently diagnosed with cancer” and “estate planning for a client’s adult child who has special needs.”

And that’s what that community is for – to source information from those who might know a thing or two about your question or topic.

BUT- here’s what you might not be noticing…

First, those questions are asked because the coach has a client where it’s come up and so the coach now needs to gain new knowledge. Second, I want you to have some awareness of how these posts might be affecting you. And it’s not just these posts in my community but all the posts you’re consuming about money in all your feeds – audio, social media, video, etc…

For example, you might see those three questions this past week and think, I don’t know that, I don’t know that, OMG that’s another thing I don’t know.

And you’re letting it affect you and give you imposter syndrome.

Instead, here’s the perspective to take: “Wow, I’m part of a community where people help one another. I have a place I can turn to when I need to know something about a particular topic and there are people who will help me. I have access to learning this information so it’s okay that I don’t know it right now. I don’t have a client who needs me to know this right now.”

Looking Ahead

As I was preparing my notes for this week, I had a coaching session with a client and something came up that I have never faced before. Not in over 15 years of coaching. I literally don’t know about the thing she has going on…and I say this was a gift because I’m preparing my notes for this episode and the next one and real-time, I’m able to watch myself and see how I handled it.

How did I feel? What did I think? How did I respond during the session with the client? What did I say to her? What steps did I take? What steps did I give her to take? How did I go about coaching this client on financial thing I didn’t have the knowledge on either?

In the next episode I will give you some topics that might be helpful to know when you first start but more than anything coach, I don’t want to give you “just knowledge,” especially because so much changes from one year to the next, I want to give you a skill. The skill of being able to DEMONSTRATE learning for your clients and the skill of sourcing information so you can gain knowledge as you need it.

Because I believe that is what will ultimately serve you best as a financial coach.