Financial Coaching is like Christmas Dinner: A Client Transformation Story

Financial coaching is SO much more than making a budget. I’m honored to share a client transformation story with you. While the term ‘transformation’ might be perceived as overused or cliché. I invite you to withhold judgment. Spend three and a half minutes immersed in this captivating story. It’s about financial coaching and client transformation.

What’s in this for you? After all it’s not YOUR transformation.

  1. Better understanding of what financial coaching is.
  2. Hope and inspiration to perhaps make a change and have a transformation of your own.

Let’s start with a seasonally appropriate analogy. 

Holiday Dinner

Picture your holiday dinner, most recent or the one upcoming. I’ll paint the picture of my upcoming traditional Christmas dinner at my Mom’s. 

If you’re a meat eater like me, you likely have a helping of turkey or ham. My Mom loves to cook ham on the wood stove. It’s a staple and will be the first addition to my plate. Then you compliment your protein with the sides. Mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, salads.

They have very little resemblance of a vegetable. This is after all of the add-ins and homemade dinner rolls from my sister-in-law. There’s also room for dessert.

Financial Coaching and Client Transformation

Financial coaching is a lot like Christmas dinner.

You start with the protein. The turkey, the ham, or maybe the prime rib. The ‘financial’ components are the main course, the meat of the meat and potatoes analogy.

But the sides…

I think most people show up for the sides.

Someone’s auntie has a famous green bean casserole. However, it bears no resemblance to a healthy dish at all. Once she’s done, there’s an addition of cream of all the things and a side of bacon with it. The butter melting into the rolls has you loading your plate with not just one, but two to start with. Stuffing debates about the box versus the bird will be forevermore. My scoop will be equivalent to the size of my protein—maybe more.

The ‘sides’ involved in coaching allow for real life to take place within the comfort of a coaching relationship. 

Mashed Potatoes = Relationships

Ever had a disagreement with your significant other about money? Mmmhmm. Money touches relationships. Obvi. That’s what my teen would say…or text. And there is plenty of opportunity to work on shared visions, goals, and communication through coaching.

Rolls = Work

Unless they’ve changed things since I left the traditional workforce, you are paid money in exchange for the work that you do. Finances and acquiring more of them, or dealing with different amounts for different exchanges of your time is definitely on the table with coaching. 

Green Beans = Health

Like how I used the one vegetable that usually makes my plate as the health correlation? Most of the time, my clients come to me with some level of stress, worry or emotional unrest surrounding their finances. Now tell me that’s not affecting their health? Of course it is. Not always in the most obvious of ways, but underlying physical health issues can be present and almost always finances are taking up more negative emotional health space than anyone would like. Now, I don’t coach others to get a morning jog in or to put down the Pringles – but the work we do to better their financial position will reap rewards in the health department every time.

Stuffing = Past/Future

Mindset, feelings, emotions, and our history absolutely correlate to current money management. Every single one of you has a story about what you learned (or didn’t learn) from your parents growing up about money. You also can think about what you saw, heard or observed in your home as it relates to money management – and those memories have likely triggered some of your actions, or inactions as an adult.

Your willingness to be open to new ways of doing things, different learning or approaches and new habits will without a doubt impact your future – and I’d bet that you have goals for your future that require, you guessed it, money. Retirement, anyone?

Cranberry Sauce = Values/Symptoms 

Cranberry sauce isn’t for everyone. But for those willing and ready to do some deeper work, connecting to your values system and tying it to how you use money is immensely valuable. Pun intended. Getting even deeper you can begin to unpack the triggers that cause you to use money the way you do – and get behind those behaviors to create boundaries to support yourself.

My own coach would say, money “problems” are not the problem – but a symptom of something deeper.  You know how your plate starts to really load up on a holiday dinner and your food (heaven forbid) starts to touch? I mean, you try to place potatoes next to the stuffing so that your gravy can have a safe place to land but inevitably your food gets mixed together at some point. You’re following me, right?

That’s how coaching works.

You see, so many aspects of life touch money. Dare I say most do. And because the ham gets in your potatoes or the green beans are touching your turkey we have the opportunity to dive deeper into…life with financial coaching.


Ashley and I started working together in December 2022. And we got to do life together for an entire year.

During our first coaching sessions I asked her what first came to mind when she thought about money, this is what she shared.

“Comes in and goes, fluid. Don’t respect it as much as I should.  I have a “whatever” mentality. Haven’t respected the true value of the dollar. Tend to be more frivolous.”

Then when I surveyed her about her before/after feelings a short time ago;

“Honestly, I felt pretty hopeless about the future in terms of being able to actually pay off debt and start saving because it’s not something I’ve been able to successfully do for years now. I figured I would always be in debt. The fact that there’s now light at the end of the tunnel makes me feel really empowered.”

Financial Coaching and Client Transformation 2

Through the time that we worked together Ashley’s turkey touched everything else on her plate. Here’s what she said.

“Like you mentioned to me recently, being involved with someone as a financial coach does immerse you quite a bit into the personal lives of your students. So while getting so close and personal can understandably be taxing as a coach, I’ve really valued it. I’m not sure how well I would do with an advisor who just looked over my financial situation and told me “here’s what you should do” without understanding me/how I want to live my life in more depth. I also really appreciate that you’ve taught me to stay disciplined but flexible and able to forgive myself when I’ve experienced financial fallbacks or have needed to make adjustments to my timeline on reaching my goals. Paying off debt and staying on a tight budget is tough, but I feel like I’ve learned from you to give myself grace and figure out ways to enjoy life at the same time.”

The Sides
  • She had not only a ‘regular’ job change resulting in a change in pay but also took on a side hustle part of that time. I think we call that rolls, like bread winning. Gosh, I’m punny today.
  • Ashley had a relationship with ups and downs over the years – just like we all did. Relationships don’t stay flat lined unless they’re well, flat lined. That resulted in him moving in, and a deep discussion around what felt right for sharing space and cost of rent with very different income levels, in addition to what future convos about money may look like if the relationship continues.
  • She had an unplanned and unexpected health concern that resulted in a hospital bill that made for added expenses disrupting the budget goals originally targeted. I know that at times she felt like she was taking one step forward, and two steps back.
  • Ashley got hit with a legal battle that she again hadn’t expected that cost her to again pause on an initial financial goal. I didn’t ask her directly, but I believe that her former self would have just said screw it to her goals after hitting a few of these financial hurdles.  But we navigated them together, she got over them and kept working toward what she wanted.
The Turkey

Ashley mastered the savings fund strategy like a freaking boss. Girl’s got pockets of money set aside to make planning and logistics easier for everything from that bi-annual trip to the salon for the big cut and color to vacations, ski passes, and holiday gifts. She also took to the budgeting process like a fish finally entering water for the first time. She swims! She’s a master tracker, maneuverer to fit the flexibility of the month, and a projector – she knows what her debt payoff timeline looks like, and what her plan is for those 5th paychecks that come around a few times a year. 

She has adopted skills of grace, discipline, flexibility, forgiveness, and self-love through this process. More than the ‘logistics’ of creating and following a budget, she embodies these qualities. That’s right – all of that can be a ‘side’ effect of financial coaching. 

Here is her list of wins.

Financial Coaching and Client Transformation 2

“Learning how to budget and learning how to be comfortable and being flexible from month to month has been an enormous win. Also learning not to be too hard on myself with spending. Although I have a long way to go with paying off my debt, I’ve also made some really significant progress and have still been able to contribute to savings at the same time.”

Wait for it….the Dessert!

I’ve been so impressed with the way that Ashley has handled her finances, and articulated her growth. So, I’ve asked her to help support my students in my course, Your Money, Your Goals. Ashley is assisting with Q&A calls and will lead some of her own in the near future. I think she has the makings of a terrific coach and I hope to mentor her in the near future. In fact I have a handful of former clients that I think would make excellent coaches. 

We’ve reached the end of Ashley’s story. Ashley’s transformation, rather. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you’re looking for holistic financial coaching by way of a few analogies and resulting in incredible transformation, I’d love to chat with you. 

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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