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Why I Coach

With any decision someone makes in life, there are always underlying motivations working behind-the-scenes. The "why" fuels what we do. So, I thought it would be appropriate as a first post in this blog to discuss "why" I ultimately became interested in helping others with their finances and decided to launch a business.

Perhaps a good place to start is with the obvious. Is some of my motivation to start New Trajectories to support my family? Yes, of course. Or, like many business owners, did I think it would be "cool" to start a business or have the ability to set my own schedule? Sure. But those things are solely about me and don't answer the question of...why this? Why not start another type of business or secure a local job where I can immediately reap the benefits of a steady paycheck? So now, enough about me! Let's talk about my "why" as it relates to others.

Seeing Struggles with Money - "Can I help?"

One reason I started New Trajectories is because I frequently see a lot of money challenges around me and I wanted to be part of the solution to those challenges. You don't need to do much deep-internet searching to find that high levels of debt permeate American culture (currently nearly $23,000 on average excluding mortgages, according to one study). I've spoken especially with some Millennial adults who feel they will never be able to pay off their student loans, and their debt feels like a "ball and chain" always attached to them. Personally, it has always concerned me to see debt held by many, and has led me to wonder about the long-term health or societal impacts debt has on us. A second money challenge I've seen is the impact of persistent inflation that started around early 2022 and has persisted since then, with many people having increased difficulty meeting the needs of their families. A last money challenge deals with career-choices. Outside of coaching, I've interacted with some people who thought about leaving their jobs to find something with higher pay, but were concerned a pay increase might come with longer hours or more grueling working conditions and have a negative impact on their work-life balance. I thought, "Man, if they had a way of managing the money they have right now, I bet they would stay put in the job they love, rather than chasing a $10,000 pay increase for a job they aren't sure is going to be a good fit." Suffice to say, seeing all these money challenges in the lives of others spurred me to action.

Getting Married and Becoming Debt Free:

Second, the personal impact that budgeting has had on my life led me to want to help others. Long-story short, when I started dating my now-wife Crystal, I was shocked at the amount of debt we would be carrying into a marriage. So shocked, in fact, that I asked her for some time to "cool down" and think about whether I'd be willing to carry all our debt into a marriage. Most conventional wisdom out there today will tell you it's not wise to get married with a lot of debt, or that whichever person in a relationship has debt, it's that person's responsibility to take care of it. Other advice will even suggest altogether ending the relationship. Fortunately for us, I really liked Crystal and didn't want to wait several years to get married. I eventually let her know I was willing to work at tackling our debt together. And so, as a team, we developed a budget and knocked out that debt within 2 years of our wedding. I still remember my wife's tears of joy when I told her I had made the final student loan payment and we were debt free. She never imagined we'd knock out the debt, let alone so soon after our marriage! It dawned upon me then that if we could experience freedom from debt, we could also help others experience that freedom as well! It also led me to wonder how many others are in a similar situation to us. I sometimes have thought, "If two people really want to stay together but are concerned about how to manage their finances, I'd love to help so they can move ahead in their relationship."

Yes, I do love my wife, and yes, I do think she is awesome! And yes, she did buy the shirt for me! :-)

Beliefs About Stewardship:

Lastly, I coach because I want to help others use the money in their hands for the benefit of others and the world around them. I believe the money in our wallets or bank accounts is not truly "ours," but has been given to us by the Lord to steward on his behalf. At this point, you might be thinking...isn't it a bad idea to mix business with religion? I get it. But, for me to hide that my spiritual background motivates my work would not be honest or authentic. (As a side note, I recently had the opportunity to take the CliftonStrengths strengths-finder assessment, and one of my top 5 themes that emerged was "Belief" - essentially meaning that I have unchanging core values from which a defined life purpose emerges. Yep, that theme resonated with me quite a bit, and confirmed that I aim for my actions to match my internal convictions.)

While I think it's great to, for example, take a well-deserved vacation, eat at a nice restaurant, or save for the future, I don't believe its wise to use "our" money solely for our own benefit. Like me, I suspect that most people want their life to matter, and so I tend to think that part of making your life "matter" is to use your finances in a way that serves other people. This is reflected in the opening clause of the mission statement for New Trajectories: "Driven to enable clients to bless their families and the world, we help individuals and couples financially prosper through hope-filled financial and budget coaching services."

I think this naturally raises a question - "Is Eric going to tell me what to do with my money? Is he going to judge me if I am not regularly giving contributions to Charity A-B-C or to Church X-Y-Z?" The answer to that is "no." At the end of the day, it's not my place to tell you what to do with your money, because it's not my money and it hasn't been put in my hands to manage. I fully recognize that not everyone is at a place of being able to give to others, and I believe it is important to get out of debt, fund your day-to-day needs, and have some enjoyment in life. Many people simply have an immediate goal of getting their finances under control and aren't immediately thinking about increasing their giving - and I think that's okay! My goal as a coach is to help you get out of debt, manage your day-to-day finances, save for the future, and prioritize what jobs the dollars in your bank account need to do, so that when you are ready, you are better positioned to serve and bless others should you desire to do so. I will also admit I'm certainly not perfect and have my own share of mistakes in thinking about myself before I think about others when it comes to my household's finances. But I am hopeful I'm at least on a path toward finding a good balance between how I should prioritize "my" needs/desires and how to meet the needs of others.

I'm sure there are many other reasons I chose to start New Trajectories, but the three items I've written about here are the motivations that stand out to me. I look forward to sharing more of my musings with you in upcoming blog posts. I hope you will find this blog to be helpful, informative, and motivating as you journey toward financial wellness!

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