In this article, we’ll be talking about how to find the right financial coach. As well as what you should expect from financial coaching, and questions to ask potential coaches.

Approximate read time: 5 minutes

What to Expect From a Financial Coach

What you expect from your coach depends on whether their focus is financial literacy or financial wellness. So let’s talk about the difference between financial literacy and financial wellness.

Financial Literacy

Like all other kinds of literacy, financial literacy is simply the ability to understand receptively and express concepts and definitions. Financial literacy is also called financial competency or financial education. Understanding how compound interest works is a great example of this. The calculation of compound interest isn’t complicated.

But knowing how compound interest works has never changed anyone’s life.

If you’re after a real change in your life, financial literacy is a great start but will fall short when it’s time to implement. And you don’t need a financial coach for financial literacy! True, you should expect your financial coach to be skilled at explaining financial literacy concepts. But you can also google every financial literacy competency right this minute and find what you need.

If your coach is focused on financial literacy, your sessions or classes will be mostly one-sided, and some of your lessons may actually be recorded webinars.  To be clear, a financial literacy class may be exactly what you need, but it’s important to know the limitations. Financial literacy is only about the understanding and comprehension of financial concepts. The implementation of those concepts, behavior change, and changes to your daily spending routine are largely left to you to sort out.

Financial Literacy Resources

Financial literacy is widely available for free on the internet, you might check out these resources before you enlist a financial literacy coach. Here are some of my favorite resources:

This young genius teaches the rule of 72 better than anyone I’ve seen.  Another YouTube channel with great economics and financial literacy courses is Crash Course! And Financial Beginnings, a nonprofit, specializes in some fantastic financial literacy content.

Financial Wellness

Financial wellness is the ability to implement and integrate positive financial changes into your own life.

(Full disclosure, Pacific Stoa, LLC and is in the business of financial wellness.)

Financial literacy sits within every financial wellness endeavor, you can’t have one without the other. You may hear the two confused, but the distinction is critical depending on your needs. In order to implement or integrate healthy financial change into your life, you must have holistic financial wellness. This means that your coach should respect that every part of your life touches your finances and your finances touch every part of your life.  Directly or indirectly, every decision you make is a financial decision.

Your Financial Coach Should Be Skilled in Helping You With Financial Resilience

That holistic perspective is why your financial coach should be skilled at teaching concepts and tools that increase your trust in yourself, reduce procrastination/avoidance/hesitation, and grow your financial resilience.

Having a customized, functional budget, paying off debt, or having the courage to finally work through that pile of bills are NOT financial tools.  All of these outcomes are the RESULT of well-built financial tools.

Traditional vs Trauma-Informed Financial Coaching

Traditional financial coaching…

…tends to be on the one-size-fits-all end of the spectrum. It is often personality-driven and can be directive. You will be expected to comply with a system or curriculum.  You may hear traditional financial coaches say things like:

“Trust the system.”
“This program works if you’re willing to put in the work.”

The good thing about traditional financial coaching is that it is fairly plug-and-play. It’s easy to start programs like this. And if the traditional coaching is done via recorded webinars, group classes, books (or a combination of all three), the cost will likely be less than a trauma-informed coach. Traditional financial coaching is often (but not always) heavily dependent on financial literacy.

Trauma-informed financial coaching…

…appreciates that everyone has experienced some sort of financial trauma. While you and your coach may never directly talk about trauma (this may be something your coach encourages you to work with a therapist on), your coach must be constantly and consistently watching out for trauma. Trauma-informed does not mean trauma-focused.

You may hear trauma-informed financial coaches say things like:
“What have we talked about today that you need clarification on?”
“How did that tool work for you?”

Trauma-informed financial coaching is gentle, collaborative, and customized. This system or curriculum will be expected to comply with you.

Trauma-informed financial coaching involves more work on the front end than traditional coaching. But should get more comfortable over time. Because of its personalized nature, this kind of coaching is often done one-to-one or one-to-couple and may be more expensive than traditional coaching.

How to Find the Right Financial Coach: Which Philosophy Works Best For You?

As a starting point only, let’s get overly simplistic and evaluate financial coaching on just two domains. Customization and financial literacy vs financial wellness

I encourage you to look for other domains that are important to you as you research coaching.

Questions to ask as you interview financial coaches:

“How have you helped others with similar circumstances?”
“What’s the single biggest thing I can do to move quickly and smoothly through your process?”
“Why do you do this work?”
“What does trauma-informed mean?”  (if this is important to you)
“In what circumstances would you refer me to another professional?”
“What have other clients of yours said is the hardest part of this work?”

In Conclusion:

I appreciate that right this minute you may have some extremely painful financial circumstances. Maybe the debt has reached a point where you feel like you’re drowning, or you’re exhausted from working hard and having nothing to show for it. But I do encourage you to take some time. Contemplate what you want your life to look like on the other side of coaching. Let that inform the coaching philosophy and coach you choose.

Wondering What Else You Should be Looking Out For in a Financial Coach?

Download “The Five Financial Coaching Red Flags” pdf here:

Next recommended article: Financial Coach vs Financial Advisor: Which Do I Need?

Ready to Begin Working With a Financial Coach in New York, California, Texas, or anywhere else in the United States?

Explore the distinction between financial literacy and wellness to uncover the transformative potential a financial coach can offer. Investigate Financial Coaching approaches—traditional versus trauma-informed—aligning their philosophies with your goals. Take time to envision the life you aspire to achieve post-coaching and choose a coach at Pacific Stoa whose philosophy resonates with your vision for financial empowerment. Follow these three simple steps to get started:

1. Reach out to me to schedule an appointment

2. Begin meeting with me, Hanna Morrell, a skilled financial coach

3. Start working with the right financial coach for you!

Other Services Offered at Pacific Stoa

At Pacific Stoa, I want to make sure you have everything you need when it comes to managing your finances. As a skilled financial coach I provide Financial Coaching for IndividualsFinancial Coaching for CouplesFinancial Coaching for Divorce and Separation, and Financial Coaching for Families. I also offer Financial Consulting for Nonprofits and Businesses to help create a customized strategy built specifically for you, your organization, and those you serve. Check out my FAQ to learn more about Financial Coaching and my Blog!