What Is a Financial Coach?

By Kelly Boyer Sagert · June 01, 2023 · 5 minute read

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What Is a Financial Coach?

A financial coach works with clients to help them better manage their money and to develop healthy, long-lasting, finance-related habits.

If you need help getting your finances organized or setting up a plan to effectively work towards your financial goals, you might benefit from the help of a financial coach. These professionals can help clients pay off debt, create an emergency savings fund, stabilize their finances, and develop an overall financial plan.

Unlike financial advisors, financial coaches spend more time helping their clients understand the fundamentals of finances, rather than recommending investments and managing their investment portfolios.

Read on to learn more about financial coaches, what they do, how much they cost, and how to find one.

What Does a Financial Coach Do?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a financial coach is a trained professional who collaborates with and guides their clients to reach their financial goals, including:

•   Better money management skills

•   Improved savings, debt levels, and credit scores

•   More financial confidence

•   Increased goal attainment

Financial coaches typically individualize their approach based on the needs of each client, with the goal of helping them make progress in the area of their financial life that they identify as most important. For example, a financial coach might help you reach your financial goals by teaching you how to build savings, avoid overspending, or pay down debt.

Financial coaches also often assist their clients with the behavioral and emotional components of managing money. A coach can help you uncover what drives your financial decisions, so you can create a healthier attitude that leads to better money habits.

Coaches often work with their clients over the period of several weeks to several months and may meet weekly or biweekly to provide advice and check on progress. The full coaching process may include:

•   Building awareness around spending habits (usually by tracking daily, weekly, and monthly spending)

•   Defining the client’s financial goals

•   Developing a budget and a financial plan to achieve those goals

Accountability is also typically built into the process. So rather than managing a client’s person’s finances, a financial coach gives clients the tools to help make informed and responsible financial decisions.

What a financial coach can’t do: offer investment recommendations or help clients manage their investment portfolios. While coaches can provide basic advice on the concept of investing, they are not licensed to provide financial advice like financial advisors are, and therefore cannot provide specific product recommendations.

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How Much Does a Financial Coach Cost?

Coaching rates typically run between $100 to $300 an hour. But because of the wide range of fees charged by coaches, it’s a good idea to ask about costs upfront.

Unlike financial advisors, who typically charge their fees based on a percentage of the assets under management, financial coaches generally work on a fee-only basis. Some may charge a flat fee based on how long you plan to work together (such as three or six months), while others might charge per session.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.

How do I Find a Financial Coach?

While there is no required coursework or license, and there are no certifications to become a financial coach, there are training programs run by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).

You can begin looking for financial coaches in your area through the AFCPE website. It’s also a good idea to ask for personal referrals from friends and family, as well as other financial professionals you know or work with (such as an accountant or financial advisor).

Before selecting a coach, it can help to consider specifically what you are looking for in a financial mentor. This can involve thinking about your own financial strengths and weaknesses, and what your goals are. Are you, for example, struggling to save enough money for a down payment on a house? Or, do your credit card balances keep going up? Identifying your needs can help you suss out the best coach for your situation.

Once you’ve gathered a list of financial coaches, you may want to reach out to each candidate to get a sense of their personality, methods, and coaching style.

Some questions to consider asking:

•   How long have you been a coach?

•   What’s your business specialty?

•   How long do you typically work with clients?

•   What’s your plan to help me reach my goals?

•   What is your availability?

•   What are your fees?

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re faced with debt and wondering which kind to pay off first, it can be smart to prioritize high-interest debt first. For many people, this means their credit card debt; rates have recently been climbing into the double-digit range, so try to eliminate that ASAP.

The Takeaway

Maybe you’ve tried to make a budget but just can’t stick to it. Or perhaps you’ve run up so much debt between credit cards and loans that you don’t know the best way to pay it off. A financial coach can help you structure your budget, build a financial plan, and hold you accountable throughout the process.

Financial coaches also help clients understand and work through deep-seated emotions around money that may be preventing them from being “good with money,” building up savings, and reaching their financial goals.

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