Playing the Long Game: Client Success Story

Client Success Story: Trevor and Jess


“We should be making more progress than we are.” This was the response that Jessica gave me when I asked her what prompted her to reach out to find a financial coach.  

Were she and her husband up to playing the long game? Were they motivated to make changes that were less about now and more about the future?

Jess was on fire.  She was frustrated, and frankly she was over it. She closed the deal on a coaching package before I could offer it.  I couldn’t have told her no if I wanted to.  

One of my only qualifications for potential clients – you have to be motivated.  Jess screamed motivated, ready and willing to go all in with the help of a guide. She was the money nerd in her marriage and Trevor was….very much inclined to see his wife stressed less, and willing to do what it took to make that happen, including meeting with me for their initial session.

They had a budget.  But sticking to it was a whole other matter.

Financial success can often be a long game, not a short game.

Side note.

Jess has tried all the budgeting apps…or the big three at least and ultimately landed on one that works best for her recently. Everyone enjoys different features and I often get asked which one I recommend. 

There is no magic in an app.  The magic is in you – when you use a tool to help you stay on budget. 

I don’t care if it’s a pen and paper, and app or a spreadsheet.

Jess’s current favorite is YNAB, You Need A Budget – she’s encouraged me to do a blog post comparing the features of some of the top three apps.  I think it’ll make the 2021 list for sure. I have a spreadsheet I personally use and share with all of my coaching clients and is also available in my budgeting training series.

Diving into this couple’s relationship with money was one of our first steps and is helpful in understanding why they acted, or reacted to money the way they did.

Not having a lot growing up, Jess wanted to be able to provide for her kids with things that she didn’t have as a child.  Insert a mild fascination with children’s clothes and a love for all things beautiful home decor. Jess hadn’t met a rug she didn’t adore.

Trevor’s background was different and had what he both wanted and needed growing up, but his habits of spending didn’t necessarily stop when he went out on his own and began providing for himself and his family. 

Both classified themselves as spenders, and knew that they wanted to use money better as a tool for their future instead of a resource at the moment.

Starting the Long Game

When it came down to building their new and improved budget flexibility was key.  Of course, we had to get all of the staples in there and find some margin to put toward their goal priorities – which initially was a starter emergency fund, followed by moving on towards their debt snowball.

The grocery budget convo is likely one I’ll never forget. Passionate about eating healthy and organics whenever possible the amount of money they were spending to feed their growing family of 6 was a big part of their monthly expenses, and something had to give.

We started by tapering their grocery budget down, slowly over three months.  That first month I wasn’t sure if they could do it – but when challenged, Jess is not one to back down. I can recall a check in convo that had her relaying a trip to their local Grocery Outlet Bargain Market.  (At our home we call it the G.O.)  It wasn’t her favorite, but it worked as a supplement to some of their other shopping to make budget that month.

Flexibility in the Long Game

Being flexible is a skill, in fact it’s one of the steps in the framework that I use with my clients – I call it the ‘flex’ step.  This is the very critical piece that we work through at different times of course, that is crucial to their long term success. You must learn to be flexible.  

The goal plan, the money plan, the budget – will be tested.  Because life is going to happen.  The skill set that you have to practice is how to flex within your budget, while still chasing your goals.  How can you take care of the life situation that just showed up on your doorstep while still staying on track with your money management.  Sometimes that means that you have to delay that debt payoff a little longer, or dip into your emergency fund…or skip eating out for a month.  Learn to be flexible, it will keep you on plan instead of derailing you when those blips of life take place. 

Trevor and Jess have a handful of little boys, and one beautiful little girl – and those rough and tumble boys have landed themselves an injury or two that threatened the original budget.  Deep breaths, a revised plan, and slowing down the rough and tumble was attempted afterward.  But inevitably life will happen again, and an unexpected trip to the Emergency Room will be in their future.

When I prompted this family about their dreams and aspirations, they had a vision in mind that I too fell in love with.  They want a few acres of land where their kids can roam and play and get into mild amounts of mischief.  It may take shape as a little hobby farm with a couple of sheep and a flock of chickens.  It’s a beautiful dream, that they are going to turn into reality with a plan.

How?

They’ve stopped playing the short game and they’re now playing the long game.  They aren’t going to pick up the things that they want in the moment – they’re going to stay on plan, and on target so that they can realize the dreams of their future.

They’re going to be all grown up about it.  Adulting is hard, you guys.  It’s saying no to the desires of the present to prepare for our future.  It means that we don’t get everything the moment that we want it.

Our coaching sessions are now transitioned to straight forward bouts of encouragement, accountability and Q&A as topics arise. Marco Polo is the app of choice for this back and forth banter, and honestly a tool I love using with my clients.  It keeps our money talk normal, the conversations casual, and gives us the ability to be real. So real that my clients often see what I look like at 5am through a quick Marco Polo check in, and I get to see cute baby girls in return.

Moral of the story. Stay the course. Play the long game. Keep up the good work.

Thank you for joining me on my my journey to influence.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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