It’s hard to find time for yourself when you have a full time job, go to school at night, and have 2 young, energetic boys at home. It can be even harder to think about using that precious time on intimidating financial matters, particularly when you have never thought about it in the past.
I reached out to Natasha during one of her short lunch breaks to arrange a time to meet her and her family as we embark on our Financial Boot Camp journey, knowing that it might be tough. They came to my office one recent Saturday afternoon. Despite having car trouble on the way — just what they needed, right? — they took an important, positive first step: not taking advantage of a convenient reason to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation. They arrived, youngsters in tow.
We met in a conference room with a massive “in wall” fish tank full of “Nemo” and “Dora” fish, which kept their oldest boy entertained for a while, while his little brother sat surprisingly patient in his stroller. Natasha and Zack seemed nervous and quiet with many questions running through their minds: what we were going to talk about, where we were headed, maybe even whether this would all be possible to get through. “That’s OK,” I assured them, “nearly all my initial meetings start out this way.”
My primary goal for this meeting was to get to know them, and more importantly, for them to get to know me. The details will come later, but I believe that it’s crucial to begin building some comfort and trust as soon as possible. They eventually began opening up, and we discussed the main concerns they had, and the path we would create to address them. Ultimately, they would like to move their family to a safer neighborhood. But in order to get there, they will need to work on a few vital issues first: get a grip on spending, which will create some extra cash flow, which will help pay off some serious credit card debt, which will help repair their credit score, while also building an emergency fund, which will help stabilize their progress and financial situation. It won’t be an easy journey at times, but the reward will be worth it for years to come.
Towards the end, they opened up relatively quickly. I like to think it was my charisma, but the truth is the fish tank was losing its novelty for their inquisitive son, and he was getting antsy. Besides, I’m a CPA, so who am I kidding with this charisma stuff?