Casual Campfire Convos about Money Q&A

There is no such thing as a dumb question.

The bold nature of asking a question that you don’t have the answer to is simply a desire to learn and understand. Not stupid at all, but an effort to become more knowledgeable.

Money management and finances are long assumed that people ‘should’ know what to do. But how do we know if we aren’t taught? We are moving into an era where learning about money management is easier than ever with access to all kinds of media, books, coaches and guides. We still, however, have an opportunity to improve when it comes to transparent and open conversations in our households, schools and across neighborhood fences and friendly outings.

In an effort to make this money talk more normalized, let’s pretend we’re having a glass of wine after dinner around my round kitchen table or if you prefer a hard seltzer around a campfire. Just a couple of friends talking about life, when the convo turns to money – as you know that I wear a small business and finance coaching hat.

Here’s what we’ll chat through as we’re relaxing with our adult beverages and talking about your frequently asked financial questions.

  • How can I create a realistic budget and stick to it?
  • What are the basics of investing, and how do I get started?
  • How can I improve my credit score?

How can I create a realistic budget and stick to it?

Let’s start with creating a realistic budget.

You have to be honest about your expenses. Looking back at a few months or several months to see what TYPE of expenses you have will help you create a category that you can set a reasonable amount to. Common categories missed? Gifts, Date Night, Entertainment, Pets, Clothes, Salon and Holidays.

Next up, sticking to said budget.

Once you make a plan – you need to be checking your reality against the plan. Let’s say you set aside $800/month for groceries. Setting the goal is just part one. Now, you need to measure up how much you’ve spent compared to your goal every time you buy groceries. ‘Sticking to the budget’ requires you to stop spending money on groceries when you reach $799.

There are several strategies and tactics to use to help keep yourself in line with a particular category amount or budget. Speaking of groceries, have you taken our 7 Day Grocery Challenge?

What are the basics of investing, and how do I get started?

I will leave the particulars of investing to the expert financial advisors, like Nadia Teleguz (you’ll hear from her a few paragraphs below). But for the basics…I’ve got you covered.

Investing your money is like putting it on loan for others to use, and they pay you a small dividend or fee for the use of it. When you invest in single stocks you take a risk of that company’s valuation going higher, or potentially lower – you could win big, you could lose big. But the average return of a diversified (mix and match of investments) over the long term is about 10%.

Getting started is really easy if you have a retirement plan through your workplace. Large companies typically work with investment firms to provide services to manage their retirement plan funds. You just say the word to someone in your Human Resources department and they’ll get you started, often with a percentage based salary contribution, and sometimes with a company match benefit.

You can also get started by working with a professional investment advisor, or do it on your own through a company like Vanguard. You’ve got options! Do your research on the approach that might fit you best. If you’d like a list of vetted financial advisors, please reach out.

How can I improve my credit score?

First things first, your credit score is not a magic number that says who you are in the world. It’s just an indicator of how well you manage debt. Some people don’t want to use debt at all – and therefore don’t need a score, but most folks do want to keep or get to a good score to be able to leverage debt for a home loan, vehicle, etc.

Okay, back to the question at hand.

  1. Number one way? Pay your bills on time. Simple. Let autopay be your friend and keep you on track with timely payments.
  2. Next up, make sure that your utilization isn’t out of whack. Most experts say that your balance shouldn’t be more than 30% of your credit limit. Some even say 10%. That means that paying down your balances is also important.
  3. Check your credit report periodically for errors, and dispute if necessary. annualcreditreport.com is a great resource for free reports each year.
  4. Let time pass. If you’ve had less than stellar credit run ins, you need some time on your side to move past those incidents and time to prove your credit responsibility. Also – the longer that you have an open revolving account, that time is on your side as well. 
  5. Get credit for utility payments, you don’t have to have ‘debt’ to have a credit score as your utility payments can be reported and counted too.

To help give you some extra perspective and insight I asked my former client, and now friend and colleague Nadia Teleguz to offer up a few frequently asked questions that she gets as a financial professional on the investment side, and here’s what she had to share.

Top 3 FAQ’s to Nadia, Financial Professional:

Do you recommend 529s or is there a better option to save for education expenses? 

“529s, Coverdell’s, even juvenile brokerage account all have contributions limits, no freedom of use and actually affect financial aid which most don’t know! There are better options such as a Million Dollar Baby account that doesn’t have contributions limits, has freedom of use meaning if your child(ren) doesn’t go to college you aren’t penalized AND doesn’t impact financial aid. 

How much should I contribute to my 401k? 

What is your goal with your 401k? Are you using it for investment purposes or retirement? Currently we are in a retirement crisis because too many Americans have used their 401k‘s (403b/457/TSP etc) for retirement. Do we know what the market will do tomorrow? How about in 2 years? 5? 10? So using a 401k is hoping to retire vs planning to retire with better options. Let’s connect to look at options based on your budget and your goals! 

I have money sitting in my savings that isn’t earning interest, how can I get my money to work for me more efficiently? 

First, be so proud of yourself for being intentional and saving! Anything more than 3-6 months is considered “dead money” meaning you’re actually loosing money since it’s not growing to keep up with at least inflation. So first, do you have a fully funded (3-6 months of net monthly income) instant access savings? If no, let’s focus on that with urgency and do that ASAP. If yes, let’s connect to look at better options side by side that will grow your money.” 

Love those insights from Nadia, you can learn more about her and her work here.


Drinks finished, now what?

We may be done with our mommy juice, but we’re not done with the frequently asked finance questions yet. Here are a few more we’ll cover in the near future.

  • How do I get out of debt? 
  • Should I focus on saving for retirement or paying off debt first?
  • How can I protect my financial well-being during economic downturns?

If there is something you’d like me to add to the list, please send me a DM over on Instagram

As a coach I often get a wide range of financial questions from individuals, couples and entrepreneurs seeking guidance on their personal or small business finances. By and large my advice is tailored to that unique situation and circumstance of my client – based on their goals. The dialogue here is some of my ‘general rule of thumb’ advice, but you’ll come to realize that I’m a big fan of you making a specific and unique plan based off of your money, and your goals.

While we’re here talking about coaching, here are a few frequently asked questions when it comes to our business behind the scenes.

Journey to Influence Coaching FAQ

What is your mission?
Help others increase intentionality with time, talent and money to live the life they’re called to lead.

What are your values?

Authenticity, Intentionality and Encouragement 

What is your philosophy on coaching?

Holistic support, doing life together with encouraging accountability. Always an attempt to get to the problem behind the problem – address the root cause, fill the gap of knowledge, understanding or behavior change to see lasting transition and true transformation.

What framework do you use?

The Journey to Influence framework takes us from dreaming to prepping, planning, flexing and thriving – all about goal setting with the purpose of goal GETTING.

What do you do to give back to your community?

An annual trip to Tijuana to help build a home for a community member in need is on the calendar the first weekend in May each year – open invitation to clients, and any friends of the Journey to attend at a cost. Sarah also gives back to a local women’s addiction recovery home in a monthly money group coaching session. We give back 5% of top line revenue to causes and projects we care about.


How much does 1×1 coaching cost?

Pricing is variable based on which coach you’re working with, as well as the package or service that fits your needs best. Monthly coaching rates begin at $197 and go up from there. 

Do you offer group coaching for less cost?

We do offer group coaching through the video course, Your Money Your Goals as well as through the membership community, Friends with Budgets and the small business group, Entrepreneur’s Journey both options are a great way to get coaching at a reduced cost.

How do I pay for services?

You’ll be set up on recurring invoices for coaching services through Square. Group coaching and courses are paid through Stripe one time payments or subscriptions.

Do you offer discounts?

Very rarely. We typically have a Black Friday-ish promo once a year.


How long are coaching sessions?

Most sessions are 55 minutes. Initial kickoff sessions are 85 minutes, and check in calls are typically 10 minutes. Occasionally we’ll offer follow up calls for extra support lasting 25 minutes. It’s not about the time…it’s about the work both in the call and outside of the call!

How long is a coaching commitment? 

Variable, depending on package – but at most 12 months where we’d then re-evaluate what your next best steps are.

Do you have evening or weekend coaching times available? 

Each coach manages their own calendar and schedule. At this time, we do have coaches with evening availability. 

Do you provide crisis or emergency support?

Of course, but while supporting our boundaries. The primary way of ‘in between’ communication is done through the free app, Marco Polo. Our coaches will get back to you within 24 hours unless over the weekend/non-working days or planned vacation. Oftentimes the turnaround is much quicker – but we give ourselves a ‘just in case’ buffer.

Until next time, thank you for joining me on my journey to influence.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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