The importance of developing solid literacy skills in students is obvious in terms of the positive impact it has on learning as they progress through school. However, the same can’t be said about our approach to teaching financial literacy. Given the challenges inherent in handling finances and dealing with debt, what’s obvious is that many people could use a strong lesson plan to improve their financial literacy skills.
That’s where Carolyn Jones comes in. As an experienced financial expert and founder/owner of The Financial Moment, Jones is now serving as a coach to clients in need of financial guidance.
“As with coaching in sports like basketball or baseball, the coach’s role is to provide direction and clarity,” said Jones in describing the services she offers through The Financial Moment. “It’s about getting you from Point A to Point B a lot faster than you can do on your own. Having a coach provides you with the tools and education you need, someone to hold your hand and guide you to a place where you’re more comfortable financially.”
Through her financial coaching program, Jones works with clients on a 1-to-1 basis or through a group program to help provide financial literacy and teach her clients how to develop a budget, follow a budget, create financial goals, and how to set up proper saving strategies. The opportunity to help others seemed like a natural career extension according to Jones.
“I have over 25 years of experience as a financial manager. My passion came from working in finance within a healthcare organization. I saw people who were not able to deal with unexpected expenses. That’s where I developed a passion to help people take control of their finances.
Jones said that although school boards are now starting to see the importance of teaching some level of financial literacy to students, the majority of people had to figure it out on their own which has resulted in many bad habits being formed.
“No one’s taught formally so you develop your habits either from your parent’s or live experience whether they are good or bad. You’re offered credit by banks, and banks don’t always have your best interest at heart. They’re there to sell you products, so people just fall into credit card debt because they’re spending more than they’re actually earning. It just kind of cycles from there.”
Jones said there are three simple steps to developing better financial acumen. The first step is to create goals and make it clear what you want and where you want your finances to be. The second step is learning how to properly track expenses. Jones suggests a lot of people don’t even look at their bank statements on a regular basis to know where their money is going and what their spending habits are. The third step is to plan for the unexpected.
“If your child suddenly needs money for a soccer tournament or school trip or you get in an accident with your car and you need repairs, you need to have an emergency fund in place to be prepared for these types of expenses. Instead, people wind up using credit cards when the unexpected occurs.”
Jones agrees that debit cards also make it easy for people to develop poor spending habits.
“People just tapping on machines don’t have that physical feeling of money being released from their hands. Therefore, it’s very easy to overspend,” she said. “Whereas, if you have cash in your wallet, once it’s done it’s done. Tapping can really hurt people if they’re not disciplined and unaware.”
In a country with a current federal debt of $1.1 trillion, it’s easy to dismiss personal debts as simple a fact of life. Jones acknowledges that not all debt is bad.
“There are different types of debt, some are good and some are bad. If you have debt sitting on a credit card at 25 percent interest, you’re paying triple times what you paid for the item you put on your credit card. That would be bad debt. Good debt would be more like using the money you borrow from a bank to purchase a home. With that debt you’re actually building wealth. Your property will most likely appreciate in value. Although you’re still paying interest to the bank you have something you’re going to hold onto that will appreciate in value.”
While developing better financial literacy is helpful in planning to make major purchases like a home, Jones says there can still be challenges involved. She suggests that people may have to think creatively to achieve their long-term goals.”
“You may have to be a little more creative and be willing to go outside your comfort zone,” she said. “For example, you may want to live in Toronto. However, Toronto is one of the most expensive Canadian cities to live in right now. Therefore, you may have to think about purchasing outside of the city to get a better price, to qualify for a mortgage, or to purchase with someone else to be able to enter the housing market.”
To learn more about The Financial Moment, or to register for an upcoming group money coaching program, visit them online.