A great manager is a great coach. And a great coach has methods that relate directly to personal finance.
At the end of April 2017, my manager left the company where I am employed. At the time, I had worked under him for almost all of my career at my current company.
He is hands down one of the best manager I’ve ever had. I was sad to see him go, but I was excited for him to take on the next leg of his life’s journey.
He was a phenomenal coach. He challenged me, helped me to think outside the box, and really helped develop me as a leader both inside work and as a business owner.
Many of the principals that he taught me—and that I’ve noticed he used—can be directly applied to personal finance.
Here are six things that my manager “taught” me about personal finance.
1. Everyone’s Situation is Different
One of the things you always have to deal with when managing is diversity.
Everyone is different. Every situation is different.
Even a person, in general, can change over the course of time making their own situations different from their previous ones.
My manager always did a great job of managing his people differently to better align with their career and life goals as well as their personality style.
In team meetings, I would watch him answer a question from a more seasoned person with his own question so they could lead themselves to the answer.
I would also notice that he would give more of a direct answer to newer people on the team because they were not veterans yet.
In our one-on-one meetings, he would ask me a lot of questions based off of my engagement level and would always make sure there wasn’t anything that he could be doing more of to help me.
Even small touches, such as trying to book a meeting room that has a lot of daylight (since I love natural light so much) show a management approach catered to my individual need.
He would also give me theoretical examples of how he would handle specific situations compared to others as well as specific types of people compared with others.
My manager realized that there is no one-size-fits-all approach that he could use to manage his entire team. He had to change it up and do what works best for him, his team member, and the situation.
How Does This Apply to Personal Finances?
The same can be said of personal finance. There is no one-size-fits-all method or approach that you can use to guarantee financial success.
You are different from everyone else.
Your finances should be different from everyone else’s finances.
That’s not to say that they won’t be similar to someone else’s finances, but your goals are different.
Your values are different.
Set up your budget and manage your money to align with you so you can stick with your plans easier and reach your goals faster.
2. Leading Someone to Make Their Own Decision is Better than Telling them the “Right” Answer
One of the things my company stresses, and my manager did exceptionally well, is leading someone to their own decision.
They ask probing questions, give insight using examples, and never say what the “right” answer is.
Why? Most people like the feeling of making that decision for themselves.
And even if it’s someone that likes to be told what to do, the potential for something to stick in their minds is greater if they come to the realization themselves.
Besides, who’s to say the right answer they can give is going to be the right answer for you (see the first point)?
How Does This Apply to Personal Finances?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned being in the Personal Finance space is that no one will create a budget that works for you better than you will. No one will manage your money better than you do.
This is why I want to be your guide and not the driver. You are the best person to drive your financial vehicle.
There are always things you’re going to want to do no matter what (like not ignore compound interest).
But I’m not going to tell you to stop going to Starbucks.
As long as you’re not spending more than you make, and it’s something you truly enjoy and value, then why not go?
This also helps to not discount the fact that good financial help can be a huge asset, whether it’s blogs online, financial books or courses, or a financial coach like me.
My manager’s help has been indispensable at times, and I wouldn’t have been able to move forward many times without his leading.
3. Align with Your “Why”
Think about your goals for a minute. Think about where you want to be financially.
Why do you want to get there?
What is your reason for wanting to reach those goals?
One of my goals for my financial life is to really help those in need.
Being able to provide food for hungry families or giving money to a ministry or organization doing great work is something that really moves and fulfills me.
I’ve been blessed, and not only do I want to bless others, I feel it is my duty to do so.
My manager and I have had quite a few conversations about this particular goal of mine. He uses this knowledge to help guide me to career and life decisions that would help benefit my goal of being extremely generous.
So why is the “why” so important?
Research shows that if someone knows the “why” behind doing something, they are more likely to do it and stick with it.
Employees like to know why they are doing something, and in particular, why their work is important. They like to know that they have a purpose.
Author Simon Sinek has a TED Talk and a whole book called “Start with Why.”
Tony Robbins calls himself the “why guy” in his phenomenal TED Talk.
His entire talk is based on why we do what we do and the invisible forces that drive us and keep us motivated.
The hosts of the Fizzle Show regularly remind people to reconnect with their why on their incredible podcast.
The “Why” gives us the motivation to keep going.
Again, ask yourself why you want to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself. Aligning with your why will help you stick with your goals and do what’s necessary to achieve them.
For example, my worst-case retirement age is 65.
Studies have shown that this is actually the best-case scenario for many people with many thinking they will have to work well past 65.
I want to retire early so I have complete freedom of time and no unnecessary distractions keeping me from helping others.
And I want to be young enough to be able to enjoy my freedom of time! That’s one of my why’s.
What are your why’s?
Do you want to retire early? Why do you want to retire early?
Take the time to examine yourself and find out why you want the goals you’ve set for yourself.
If you search deep and find you don’t have a real reason why, or are doing things because someone else thought it was a good idea, it may be time to replace that goal.
4. Be Inquisitive
My manager always encouraged me to ask questions. I’m a naturally inquisitive person so he didn’t have to tell me twice!
Asking questions is the intellectual equivalent of exploring. Simply put, when you ask questions you learn more. This can be a great asset in any job as it shows you have a desire to learn and grow in your role.
Be curious. Find out how things work.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you aren’t sure of something or need clarification.
All of these are things my manager helped develop in me.
He also taught me how to ask powerful questions in a leadership role and that there is sometimes a correct time and place to be inquisitive.
How Does This Apply to Personal Finances?
The more you know, the more you grow.
In order to grow your money, you need to have the knowledge of the options available to you.
There are a ton of books and blog posts on investing, money management, budgeting, etc., that can give you the knowledge to manage your money your way. I encourage you to read more.
Nowadays, asking questions can literally be done to your phone. There is a lot of information that Siri or Google Assistant can get you just by asking a simple question. Try it out!
Being inquisitive about the right things at the right time is just as important with your personal finances, too.
If you’re trying to learn all you can about investing and don’t have a handle on some of the more basics of personal finance, it might not be time to study investing yet.
If you know you want to pay off your debt within the next 18 months, you’ll want to study how to do that rather than how to live off dividend income you may not have yet.
5. Allow Yourself to Fail
Over the course of my career, I’ve been challenged quite a bit to develop and grow.
My manager suggested situations or projects that may make me uncomfortable and fall a little out of my comfort zone. He also encouraged me to run with projects that I personally wanted to take on.
Not all of these are successful.
The amazing thing is that every time I fail, my manager and I would sit and talk about what went right, what went wrong, and what I learned from it. We would go over what I would do differently given the same situation the next time.
Each failure, each mistake, is treated as a learning opportunity.
Since failure is treated this way, I’m always encouraged to try new things. It takes away the fear of trying something different. If it doesn’t work, we move, try something different again, and learn from the failure.
Let’s just rip the band-aid off here. Not everything you do is going to be successful in finance. From investing or starting your own business to budgeting and spending, there is room to fail in almost every aspect of personal finance.
Trying something in-and-of itself is a success, though, because many people don’t even get started.
Don’t beat yourself up over failing.
You may pick the wrong type of budget and overspend on everything. You may pick a stock to invest in that looks good for a few months and then takes a nosedive. But at least you did something.
Failing does not mean you’re a failure.
Train your brain to allow yourself to fail. Convince yourself that it’s okay to fail—because it is okay!
If we never fail at anything we would never learn.
6. Stay Positive
The last thing my manager and I talked about a lot is staying positive. I’m generally a positive person but there are times when I need a great reminder to always stay positive.
Through failures and success, having a positive attitude is one of the keys to success.
A positive attitude helps you with failure and keeps you from thinking everything is all doom and gloom. I think it’s also more than that.
I also take a positive attitude as having humility in success. In other words, negative thoughts not only include thinking everything is going to turn out terribly, but it also includes thinking you’re better than everyone else.
Sure, it’s ok to take pride in an accomplishment and have the confidence to keep going because of success.
Thinking you’ve arrived or are above others is not staying positive.
How Does This Apply to Personal Finances?
In your finances, don’t think of your debt as insurmountable. The tallest mountain on earth is Mount Everest and many people have reached the top. In fact, mountains can teach us a lot about personal finance.
The biggest thing to remember is that no mountain on earth is too big to climb, including your mountain of debt.
Guard your mind from thoughts of negativity. Limiting your time around negative people can also help. Celebrate your small wins to keep you motivated to keep going. Change how you feel about money so you set yourself up for success.
With cockiness, I try and immediately dismiss thoughts of being better than everyone else. I’m a financial blogger but I make mistakes just like everyone else. Just because I write about finance doesn’t mean I’m above you, other financial bloggers, or anyone else for that matter. Managing your money your way will always be better than you managing your money the exact same way I manage mine.
Take this same approach in your finances. If someone you know is struggling, there could be a lot of different reasons why, a lot of different situations at play.
One of the best ways I’ve found to help curb negative thoughts of pride and entitlement is just to get to know people. Get to know their story. Find out why they are where they are and what decisions they’ve made. People study successful people all the time in order to find out what makes them tick—and I agree this is hugely important—but what if we took the same approach in the opposite direction?
Getting to know those who may be struggling will help us all to learn from other’s mistakes, and more importantly, help us empathize with their situation.
You Can Learn a Lot from Your Manager
My manager was a great leader to me. He taught me a lot and I’m super thankful for that. We still continue our friendship to this day as well
I encourage you to learn from your manager at work. Many of the lesson they can teach you can be directly applied to other areas of life outside of your job as well, such as personal finance. It doesn’t have to be a manager either. Learn all you can from every leader in your life.