Where does your money go?
Time to figure that out. According to an America Trade Survey, 40% of single people spend their entire paychecks every month.
Welcome to “Day In The Life Of Happily Single” podcast. I am your Happily Single host, Brooke Bevan. Today we are going to be talking about money matters, budgeting and finances, and I have a special guest, Jolie Viguers. She is a financial coach, who owns Well Bean Coaching, and is going to talk with us today. Welcome, Jolie.
Thank you so much, Brooke. It is so great to be here. I love supporting new entrepreneurs and new podcasts, and I love to talk about money. So this is a great place for me to be.
Well, we are happy to have you. Let’s give our audience a little bit of background on you. What makes you qualified to be a financial coach?
It is really an interesting industry, that is just getting into more mainstream now. I will tell you a little bit about my story. First of all, I grew up in Saskatchewan on a grain farm, and in grade 10 I knew I wanted to be an accountant. Like how nerdy is that? I know! From there, I was in a tiny small town with 10 people in my graduating class … that kind of small town.
As a financial coach, I get to be that sounding board and partner, to help guide those conversations and to also be that accountability partner.
Join Jolie’s Kickstarter Programs!
I moved to Calgary, and got my business degree and took some more classes. Then, I got my CMA designation and that was what feels like eons ago, but it was, almost 20 years ago. I got to be a professional accountant, and that is what I did for a long time.
I was working mostly with small entrepreneurial businesses, up until the role, where I was the controller. Most people are not really even sure what that is, but that’s the head accountant that would report to say a CFO, except we didn’t have one. I was a controller for a multi-million dollar company here in Calgary.
For a while I decided, you know what? I don’t need to work, and this is a beautiful place to be. I ended up taking another role that is also a controller-ship, but it is only part-time, and in doing that, I had so much extra time. I did a ton of volunteering. I worked with CPA as a mentor.
I have also been working with CRIEC, an immigrant employment agency here in Calgary, working with new Canadians trying to find work as accountants. I am just celebrating 11 years with Junior Achievement, which means that … Congratulations! Thank you! … I am presenting all things, money, business and entrepreneurship to kids from grade 5 to 12.
That has been so fun and in doing that, I decided you know what! That is the part that lights me up! Compared to the debits and credits of paying the bills, and all that kind of stuff with accounting, working with the people is what really inspires me. When I can see their faces change, I get it, and that has been just the best, so that is how I started my business.
Two and a half years ago, I took a financial coaching course and have done lots of other ones since then. With my accounting background, of course, the number part is easy, but really what I focus on, working with my clients, is all about their mindset about money, because that is what drives it all. It is not about the debits and credits. It is not the numbers. It is the mindset that is absolutely the key.
Yes, I believe that. Why is it important for single people to get their finances in order?
I think, number one, it is important for everyone to get their finances in order.
I work with a lot of single people. I also work with a lot of couples, but it is especially important for single people to take care of their finances because you don’t have that partner to fall back on. You are a single-income household essentially at that point, and there is an inherent risk in that you need to make sure that you are stable, and secure on your own, in case the worst-case scenario ever happens.
When someone is first looking at their finances, what would be the first thing that you would look at?
Congratulations for taking a look, because I say this all the time. The number 1 issue with people and their money is, they are simply not paying attention. Step number 1 … let’s pay attention!
Take a look at your money and you will be already miles ahead. When you start to take a look at your money, I always again, roll it back to some sort of an accounting mindset. We want to know where we are at first, right before we can get too excited about our future plans, all the great goals and things that we want to do.
First off, we have to decide, where are we starting from? When I work with my clients, it is often to talk about, first of all, mindset because that is what matters more than anything else. Then, when it comes to the numbers, net worth. This is actually pretty simple, but people don’t often do it, because it is scary to think about, and they are unsure what the numbers are going to look like.
I see it as very overwhelming.
Yeah, and you are worried that it is going to come out to a number that is generally worse, worried that it is going to be worse than it actually is. Your net worth is simply everything you own; that is all your assets, and then, you subtract everything you owe; that is all your liabilities, right?
Your house minus your mortgage, that net number, and of course, all the other things involved there as well. We start with net worth. You are here, that is all that is. It is one tool is one tracker, and then, we get into the nitty-gritty details and talk about things like, what has my spending looked like in the past? How do we feel about it?
The next thing, I would encourage people to do, is just to track their spending. Their money in and their money out, for two or three months. Look back in history and say, “okay, that was old me. Now I’m going to be looking forward, and make some changes for all those numbers I feel a little bit icky about. I’m going to make some changes because I want future me to look and feel different”.
Do you find that when people are looking back, how far do you go back?
Well, it is interesting, because we are still in the pandemic right now, so our spending habits have absolutely changed in the last year. I do not know what they are going to look like in six months or even next year. I do not know if we are going to return to normal, like it was in, say, 2019.
A lot of the lock-downs started happening in early 2020. The changes actually started happening in late 2019.
But through all of this, we have also changed. We have adapted, we have set new priorities, and maybe we do not want to return back to the way that we were in 2019.
We have all become addicted to Amazon shopping.
Yeah, absolutely. That whole convenience has become more important, because we are not just scooting out doing all the things, all the time, anymore either.
As a coach, you probably see a lot of issues that you can spot pretty easy, that become pretty regular for single people. What are some of those red flags, or potholes, that you see, that pertain to single people in their budgeting and their finances?
I will say it again, not paying attention is number one, every single time. Once you get over that hurdle, some of the bigger things are, I don’t know if whatever it is. $500 on groceries is high or low or just right? You don’t have a partner to necessarily bounce those ideas off of. In a couple, the husband can say, “we are spending too much money on groceries”, or the wife can say, “ I don’t have enough budget [00:09:00] for spending money on groceries”, or whatever it looks like. If you are a single person, all of those decisions are on you and sometimes it is hard to know, is this legit? Am I high? Am I low? How do I feel about it? It is really important then, as a financial coach, I get to be that sounding board and partner, to help guide those conversations and to also be that accountability partner to say, “let’s sit down and look at this every week or every month to say, how did we do? How do we feel about it?”
It all depends on the region too, where you are living. For those of you in Canada, you understand that higher food prices are here, compared to the United States, where things are actually quite a bit cheaper down there. From my point of view, talking to other people, especially about finances; that when I talked to a couple, especially here in Lethbridge, Alberta, they are like, “Oh, for the family of three, we spend $500 a month on groceries”. And I am like, “I am a single person, and spend $500 bucks a month on groceries. How do you guys do it?” I must be doing something really wrong because I am the same as a three people household.
Sometimes those differences are there, sometimes it is still legitimate and that is fine.
I have a lot of clients that have dietary restrictions, or they want to eat organic, or all these different things. Absolutely, their costs are going to be higher, but you know what? That is okay because that is what they value. They just won’t be able to spend higher than average on all the categories.
You have to decide what is most important to you, and spend your money there. I am not here to say you can not spend money. I am here to say, spend it on the things you really care about, the things you value and cut out the nonsense.
It is like the saying, what was it? It is … “I can be as high maintenance as I want to, I pay my own bills.”
I love it!
As a single person, it is true, but the thing is, you have to still afford those bills.
You have to take a look at it every once in a while, so you can have that gut check to say, “Oh, do I really need all of these subscriptions? Are they really serving me?” If you don’t have a partner to bring that up, it is on you to take that hard look to say, “where is my money going? And am I cool with that?”
Yeah, those subscriptions are a tricky one for a single person. I actually got creative. I have a friends group and we each pay for a family subscription and then we share it all. My budget is only $15 for, let’s say, three TV subscription services. We each pay for one and then share, and that brought our costs down hugely. It is just being smarter.
Sometimes they are going to be cracking down on that, but I would really just challenge you to say, how much do you really need? I do this all the time, with our whole family, as well to say, “Are we really getting value from all of these different services?”
A minimalist kind of a thought process to it. Do I really need it or do I not need it?
I think that just comes naturally to me. It does not come naturally to everyone though. Once you start aligning all of your spending with what you value, then it becomes much more clear to say, “Yeah, no, I would rather have security and retirement. Although that is not sexy! I know, but if you can decide, you know what? I want to hit these other goals. I want to go to Hawaii. I want to max my TFSA. I want to become debt-free. If those things are more important than, the easy thing is ‘Oh, Starbucks every day, then I want you to be empowered to make those decisions.
A single female. I know a lot of women love shopping for shoes. Not me. I love shopping for tech, so I can totally get that. I am just thinking back, I have ADHD. I have very low impulse control, so are there things you can teach people like me, to do those controls, in place.
The easiest, I should not say the easiest; the most common, the most obvious thing is to have a budget and nobody really likes that word, because it seems like it is going to be super restrictive. I even joke with my clients that I call it the BDGT, the four-letter word nobody wants to talk about is, the budget. When you do that though, and allow yourself to spend on those categories that mean something to you, and so for you, if that is tech and you decide, ‘You know what? I am cool with spending $100, $500’; whatever it is. In that category every month, then you make the rest of your spending fit around that. Then you are free because you’ve done the budget. You are like, “Hey, I know I have this much that I can spend”, and away we go. Then, you can choose, you can do it on the first of the month or you can save it up until that 31st of the month, but that is all you are allowed to spend that month. You will have that newfound freedom to think, I have no guilt about it because it is in the budget. I planned for this.
A couple of other ideas too. If you are an online shopper, leave it in your car overnight. Leave it for 24 hours and if you really need or want it, then the next day, go ahead. Make sure that it’s just in the plan, that is it!
I run on a theory, personally. I have to sell something in order to purchase something new. If I want it, I have to get rid of something. I found, for myself personally, it really started to get me honest, about how much I was buying new stuff, that I really didn’t need.
Yeah, and for clothing, that is an easy, obvious one, right? If you need a new sweater, which sweater is leaving? Which sweater do you not love, that this new one is going to replace, right?
Yeah. I’m a minimalist by nature. I’m constantly going through my stuff. I run on a rule that if I haven’t used it in a year, it is gone. You either sell it, donate it, or trash it. I am a big fan of donating because I have a lot of gently used goods. There are programs out there that need them, so I am always happy to donate. It is really amazing that we have been going through my parent’s house, because, they’re married! They are actually renovating right now, and the sheer amount of stuff, that they have accumulated in this house, is insane. We have actually been putting the process of filing some of it out, but as a single person, I’m like ‘if I had to move’ …
… and again, that is all on you, right? Especially you do not have kids, that are going to sort through all of your stuff, when you are old, or after you have passed away. That is going to be on somebody else to take care of, so I can see where naturally that is something that you are very conscious of.
I am going to flip gears here for a sec, and actually talk about the accountability partner thing. I know as a coach, you are an accountability partner. How does the average single person have an accountability partner, maybe to discuss those big purchases with?
It is tricky. This is a mission I am working towards, is to normalize talking about money, because it has been such a taboo topic for so long. People are left in the dark and they do not know. It is always a touchy subject because of course, we do not need to keep up with the Jones. It is not about comparison, but I really want people just to be talking and normalizing to say, “Hey, are you using your TFSA? Are you investing in it? Did your financial institution; were they helpful with that or whatever?” I just want those kinds of conversations, not to say, “Hey, I maxed mine out. Why haven’t you maxed yours out?” It’s not about that, but it is about sharing information.
Seeing what is working for other people and maybe having some other options. Yeah, I actually started this exact conversation. I am very lucky. I have a very smart, younger brother, who is very financially adapt, is a word I am going to use. I just was not thinking of money, is a tough one for me personally. I have zero impulse control. I almost need someone to be in charge of my money, tell me what I am allowed to buy and what I am not allowed to buy, because I am that bad. He is really geared towards learning the finance [00:18:00] part of retirement like you have to be ready for retirement. I am actually using my younger brother as an accountability partner, because he says, “Did you put your money into your investments this month? Did you put money away for your rainy-day fund? Did you pay down your debt?” I am very fortunate he is willing to talk to me about those things. I did not have that before this last year. I never talked about money before the last year, but I am super more conscious about everything now because I’m 37 years old. I really have to think about retirement, as someone who chose at a very young age, to stay single and be single for life. If I knew what I know now back then, my gosh, I would be in such a winning position at this age. I wouldn’t even have to think about retirement because it would already be taken care of.
You know what, everybody can say that, right? The best time to plant a tree was 40 years ago, yet we know the next best time. How about today? Lots of people will also say, they didn’t teach us in school. Yet there are lots of things we didn’t learn in school, but we did it because it was important to us. Nobody knew how to use any of the social media platforms back 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago. They didn’t even exist, but we have figured it out. Guess what? We can figure out the finances too.
Yeah, I think that is one of the things we have to get that mindset. It is never going to be perfect, but starting now, rather than later, is probably the biggest thing because financially as a single person, we actually really have to think about this. What happens if you get sick? How is that going to be afforded? Are you going to have to pay for someone to take care of you? Are you, do you have insurance that is going to help you? You have to think of all that, but then as you retire. This actually hit me hard, like maybe four or five months ago. When I retire and I am old, who is going to take care of me? I do not have kids. I do not have a spouse. If I am super fortunate, I can probably con my nieces into taking care of me, but I do not want that for them. I want them to go out and live their own life. I do not want someone to have to spend their life looking after me, so that means I have to think of retirement homes, nursing homes and hospitals. How am I going to get around, when I cannot drive anymore?
How much is enough?
Right? That is a big question. When you are retiring as a couple, there are different things to look at, but as a single person, this is all on you. What do you need to do to get there, to be safely retired and still enjoy your life? I know a lot of people like myself, who work really hard through our lives, expecting to enjoy our retirement. What if something happens?
Yes, absolutely. I think that through this whole pandemic, it has also become much more apparent as well, in not having the job security that you thought you had in 2019, and suddenly the whole world is upside down in 2020. Here we are still trying to survive and struggle through all of this here in 2021. We don’t know what our future is going to hold, so having that security, that safety net is so important. I think it’s been really brought into … the light is shining on it here now.
Yeah, for sure because there is a lot of conversation. I know a lot of people who have lost their jobs permanently. The businesses they worked for, the last 30 years; the employers are going, “I am just going to shut down because I am old enough to retire. Let’s just not take the stress of having to run a business during the pandemic” and they just shut everything down. All of a sudden, all these employees are honestly out of work, some of them have been around with the company for 27 years, and all of a sudden, there is nothing.
In personal finance, we always talk about an emergency fund, where most people can’t afford a $400 emergency, that kind of a thing. Finding an emergency fund and properly funding that, doesn’t have to be huge. You start small, and then when you hit that goal, you celebrate it. Then, you might want to bump up that emergency fund to a next tier, next higher level, so that is your next goal. To have that security is huge, it feels completely different. Psychologically, it is still the same math. I know, when the dishwasher breaks or when the dog goes to the vet, I know, it sucks having to pay that $1,000, but if you have done the responsible thing and you have a $1,000 sitting in your emergency fund, yeah! You can do that, because you have done the adulting, to have that there and ready.
Adulting is not fun, but we all have to do it at some point, and I am the girl that refuses to grow up. Another thing that I was wanting to ask about is, I know they have programs like the cash-based and all of that stuff. I know here in Canada, we hardly deal in cash anymore. We are all online. How do you keep that momentum and the honesty up, when you have a plastic thing that you can just swipe?
Everybody is different. I have one of my older clients. She has a tiny little notebook, that she records every transaction in with her pen and paper, she records it all that way. Lots of people will just use a spreadsheet and lots of people are using an app. There are tons of apps out there, you can use, to keep track of what you are spending. Some of them are also very popular for budgeting as well, to say, “You know what? We are going to spend $500 on groceries. Okay and by the 20th of the month, if you have spent $400, then, okay. I only have a hundred bucks left for the last 10 days. How am I going to make this work?” It is just bringing that consciousness to your everyday spending.
So do you see after, when people start working with you, after three or four months, it becomes quite a bit easier for them, because it has become a habit?
Not just the habit of the spending, but the thought process behind it, really evaluating. What do you really want? What do you want more? Do you want to be debt-free? Do you want Amazon shopping? That is the biggest win, right? I can’t, I do not get to tell that, “Oh, my client paid off a million dollars of debt or my client now has a million dollars in the bank”. No, because it is a slow process. It is not about the dollars, it is about the whole mindset shift to say, “I am now living in alignment with where I want my money to go”. It feels right because it is serving my values. It is bringing me happiness or pride or joy, and that is worth it.
Are you also seeing, with single people, that they have a higher debt ratio by chance, or are they more likely not to have that debt because it is harder for them to get?
I would not be able to make a blanket statement like that because everybody is so different.
I suppose. If you were to take a look at housing, then yes it would probably be higher, because a lot of my clients do own their house. That is based upon a single-income family, compared to my couples who have, sometimes but not always, a dual income. For their family potentially. Everybody’s story is so different. Whether it is consumer spending, going into debt for buying cars or things on your credit card, or whether it is housing or student loans, there are so many different ways that people have accumulated debt, but I would not be able to say that it is a higher ratio for my single clients. No.
Okay. I know with myself, when I was in debt when you talk about mindset, honestly being in debt was making me sick, physically sick. Then, I busted my butt and got out of debt. So I am a cash-oriented person. I do not even have a credit card, because it makes me sick to have it. Do you try to move people away from getting their debts paid off first and to living on more cash-based life, where that mindset might be a little bit healthier?
Yes and no. When you talk cash, it does not mean that my clients have to use the cash envelope system, where payday you take out a $100 and put it in this envelope for groceries and $20 for this envelope. I am not … my clients can do that. I do not prescribe any particular way, because it is about finding what works for them. Every client is very beneficial. It is all customized to them. I agree with you, like in Canada, it is so popular just to tap your card, whether it is your debit or your credit. That is the way that most people do their purchases.
Now, you do not even need the cards anymore. It is scary to me.
Yeah, I know. Guess why they want to do that? It is because you’re going to spend more. Yeah. So it is really more about that whole bringing it home. What do you want more? Which would you rather? … is the question that I ask my clients all the time. After we worked through all of this, it becomes so much more clear. I have had some clients, selling cars and trucks and RVs, even their house to say, “You know what? I do not care about the big house. I want to go on holiday every year. I am prepared to downsize.”
Are you seeing that shift now, where people are not wanting the big properties and wanting smaller?
I am starting to see that too, especially here in Lethbridge, because there is very little in the way of small. Everything here is built big and people are just turning away from that now. They would rather have a smaller house in a bigger yard, so they can enjoy their outdoor space more, or have a smaller house and be able to travel, or have a vacation property they can enjoy during the summer. There is a lot of talk about online right now, which I find really fascinating.
And I think it is the whole minimalism and the tiny home concept is really intriguing because people are now saddled with so much stuff, that they do not want to have to deal with.
And are you seeing a shift from the older generation to a younger generation, in the mindset around the money and the purchases?
No, I haven’t really seen a lot between the older and younger. I think that everybody, especially in the last year and a half, everybody has just been so much more aware of security. Now, whether you are 20 and you are paying off student loans, or you are 60 and you are looking to retire, security looks different for sure. But that is definitely what is coming to the forefront, right?
What spot would you recommend to someone, that has never looked at the finances? How would you encourage them to actually reach out and get some assistance in getting on track?
Of course, I am a coach and I love to do this, but you do not necessarily need a coach. There is a ton of information online and in libraries, or when you go to your bookstore, there is a ton of information there. The only caution though, is that it can be very overwhelming, because where do you even start? The personal finance section is ginormous, and so then, how do you choose?
And you have a hundred apps and a hundred websites and a hundred books and everybody, of course, learns differently.
Yeah. Even just looking on YouTube, there are so many personalities there, that you can find out who you jive with. It takes some time and you are going to play around a little bit, just be like, “Oh, that guy is way too technical for me and we are moving on to this girl instead”, or whatever it looks like. But absolutely, if you want to talk with people even, start following some of the accounts just to get familiar. Snoop around on Instagram or on Facebook to be like, “Oh, hey, they are talking about debt repayment”. What does that look like? Just get familiar with some of the terminology and the strategies. Hopefully, you will be inspired to take that to the next level and do it yourself.
You are a Canadian coach, so I am going to say this to my American friends: hire a Canadian coach because everything out here is more expensive. We are used to dealing with higher numbers. It is better for you guys, but hiring a Canadian coach is actually cheaper for you, because you get a better exchange rate. Jolie, I know you do one-on-one coaching. That is probably your most popular because you get to go in-depth with a client, but I know you do group coaching. Do you want to talk about that a little bit? For people out there, group coaching can be less scary, because you are in a group with people just like yourself.
I started doing these and I call them my Kickstarter courses because they are just a primer to give that whole education piece, so that by the time my clients come out of that, they are ready to be like, “Okay, now I can take action!” I have developed them to be at a more cost-friendly price point because not everyone can do the full, private one-on-one coaching with me. This is an easier introduction, also even to what coaching is like and what I am like.
I have three different programs for that. My first one is … Debt Repayment Kickstarter. Of course, what we are talking about there, is all the different strategies and how do you get your mindset around that and which one’s going to work for you. What does that look like and setting up some goals.
Then, I have another one that is called my … Cash Flow Clarity. This one is perfect for everyone that says I make good money, but I do not know why. We are going to get some clarity on what is happening with your cash flow, the same kind of thing.
My most popular one is my … Wealth Builder Kickstarter, and that is all about investing. Whether you do it yourself, or you use an advisor, it is using the terminology and getting that education piece, so that you really understand what your money is doing for you.
So with my Kickstarters, they are generally like small groups of up to only eight people. They are virtual and they are five sessions, where we get to meet and talk all things money, and I love to do that.
I know with smaller groups, it gives you time to ask the questions and to get clarity. I know I’ve been in some pretty big group sessions before, and when you have that many people questions get lost, but the smaller groups are really nice and less intimidating, especially for someone just getting started.
Not only that, but it is also a comradely because then everyone in there is all in the same boat and you are all there to learn the same kinds of things, so if you
have a question, somebody else is probably thinking that same question. It is all done live as well, so if I am talking about something, and you are, “Wait, I missed that. Can you go over it again?” No problem. That is really a benefit as well, compared to just having an online course or a webinar, where you just log in and watch it. This is totally interactive and that is what I love because then I get to see my client’s faces be like, “Oh, now I get it.”
Yeah. I have had those moments where I am like, ”Oh, I was totally doing that wrong. I should have thought that one through and I have wasted a bunch of money doing the yeah, shit.”
You cannot always be perfect with your money. I am not always perfect with my money. It is a learning experience. Even my parents are still learning with their money, so I hope that we continue to learn until we are old.
With this interview, we are actually going to make it available for anyone who is listening. If you want to reach out to Jolie, we are going to have the links in the bios and in the blog posts. If you go onto the email list, we will actually email you Jolie’s programs, so that you can have them at your fingertips. It is a great way to support this channel. We are a new channel. We are just getting started. By supporting Jolie, you actually are going to be supporting us and you will be supporting yourselves. I definitely encourage everybody to reach out to Jolie and even just ask the questions, start that conversation. How can people get a hold of you Jolie?
The best place probably to find me, where I am most active, is on my Instagram. My company’s name is Well Bean Coaching, and I want to go over that just real quick. ‘Well’ being healthy and fit and all that, everybody wants that! ‘Bean’ playing off the word being a little bit, but also because I am a bean counter. I had to throw that in there and “Coaching” because that’s what I do. So ‘Well Bean Coaching’ is who I am on Instagram. I’m also on Facebook. Watch my stories in both of those places. I am also on the web at wellbeancoaching.com. I also have for your single lady listeners, I have a Facebook group called the ‘Canadian Ladies Money Club’. It is a group on Facebook and we talk about all things, money and there are new posts every day, with lots of chatter just normalizing the conversations around money.
Nice. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being here today. You are my very first interview for the shows, so I am really excited to have you, and because money was such a big thing for me as a single person, I knew I just had to talk about this. For the gentlemen out there, do not feel like you are being left out. We still love you. We still are going to have the programs for you. Thank you for joining us and everyone, please take a moment to check out the blog page, and sign up for the emails. You are going to also find me on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Thank you and we will talk to you next week.
Thank you so much, Brooke. It is always fun to talk about money. I encourage everyone to continue these conversations. Not necessarily with a spouse obviously, but with your girlfriends, your guy friends, and your brothers, your sisters and your parents. Just normalize the conversations, talking about money.
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