This week I had the pleasure of meeting Jodie from Dollars and Sense Spending Planners. How appropriate it is to chat about fiscal matters as we all weather the Corona Virus situation and many people are facing money-matter issues. I kicked off the interview by asking Jodie to tell me a bit about what she does as a spending planner here on the GC:
Jodie: "As a spending planner, we help people with their household finances, so, we don't quite do budgeting as such. I guess you could call it 'budgeting on steroids'. What we do is throw everything forward and give them an action plan for handling their money. We focus on expenses, and how much your life is costing you. Then we see how well you are affording your life, are somethings leaking money, do we need to cut some things back? Where is your debt at? We can come up with a plan to smash out that debt. A spending plan an help you save a lot faster than say, having no plan or working without a traditional budget."
"Traditional budgets tend to focus in: Income, expenses, and allocate some bits and pieces towards that. Where as, with a spending plan, we aren't looking over our shoulder, we are looking straight ahead, forward 12 months. It's like looking into a crystal ball of your financial future, so you know exactly what is coming and when it's coming and how you are going to tackle it. That's one that budgets don't necessarily do. But, what a spending plan does, is it gives you the how. It takes all of that stress away and it gives you a nice plan to work with your goals, your dreams, we integrate that in to the spending plan as well. We see people find money that they didn't have and we get them on the track to financial freedom. Taking the stress out of money, so when a bill comes in, you say 'I've got the money to pay for that'."
Dee: "I can imagine with all the COVID-19 changes going on, families, partners or some members of families are losing jobs at the moment, so, there's probably a lot of need for this."
Jodie: "I think some people are in the situation, of say, they've lost money and lost income and they may not be thinking , 'let's go out ant pay someone to get a hand with this'.
Dee: "Of course, there's those who are skeptics, people that are unsure, they've never done spending planning before."
Jodie: "Or people just think it's budgeting and it's not. It's not your traditional budgeting. For a lot of people, when you say budgeting it's like 'ugh, I'm going to have to allocate my money, debt, to the last coffee that I want to have.' We don't do that! A spending plan is great, because it shows you how you can pay for your bills and live the life you want to live."
"I was speaking with a client the other day actually. about this young couple, they're in this position where one of them had lost their job because of Corona Virus. They agreed that by having the spending plan in place, they can see exactly how they are going to tackle everything. They can see that they have to spend-down, and not stress at all with having lost half of the income from their household. They've managed to put the mortgage repayments on hold with the bank. They're like 'OK we can see what's coming, we have an action plan, we can get through it' and then, when the other half get's a job again and things pick up, then, they'll be well and truly on their way to smashing their goals. Yeah, they have a wedding! Well, hopefully have a wedding (ha-ha)"
Dee: "Hopefully it's more than a couple of guests!"
Jodie: "Yes! So, they were working towards being able to work towards having the wedding that they wanted and the honeymoon they wanted. And that's what the spending plan is giving them. Even with the loss of income, they are still on track to work towards a goal and achieve that goal. So they're sitting pretty good."
Dee: "What made you want to get into this line of businesses, what was your driving force?"
Jodie: "I want to help people, I worked in the university sector for a number of years teaching foundational concepts of Accounting and teaching Accounting to non-accountants so, small businesses or people that want to go into small business."
Dee: "To keep their own books?"
Jodie: "Yeah exactly! Or else, just keep checks on their book-keeper."
Jodie: "I've been through some tough times myself, some really tough times financially and my knowledge and my experience helped me come out of that pretty-much unscathed, got everything on track again really fast. So what I thought was, there are so many people out there that aren't taught about money or they don't have access to that knowledge. So, I look at it and I go well, rather than work in the university sector and teaching accounting to people who don't really want to know about it, I wanted to direct that to people it could really help, and just take the stress away from money. Money and money problems contribute to household stress, relationship problems."
Dee: "oh, for sure."
Jodie: "People feeling like they are a slave to their bills and a little bit of knowledge can get people on top of that, break them out of living week-to-week, help them manage their bills and their spending better, but, manage it without feeling restricted at the same time."
"I'm all about educating, and I don't just get clients in and say 'Here is your spending plan, away you go'. I don't create all the plans, I lead them through a process where they build it with my help and they learn about money, learn different strategies for trying to get around something that's going to be a bit of a road-block or a big obstacle, so they learn strategies that they can implement in future. So it's lifelong-learning - a program that will serve them for the rest of their life."
Dee: "started a teacher and still a teacher (ha-ha)
Jodie: "I guess that's my thing, yeah, I'm a good communicator, a good teacher and found I had a knack for making accounting interesting (ha-ha)"
Dee: "Look that's always good, I find that's the one thing people shy away from isn't it?"
Jodie: "Or people don't want to deal with money, stick their head in the sand and don't want to. They pretend it doesn't happen, it can't get me and I don't have to worry about it, but, a spending plan is really quite simple. We use software that organises it into a nice dashboard with summaries. It's a living, breathing program and the plan itself is alive because you an change it as you need to - it's really quite easy. If you end up with a loss of income, you can put that into the software, re-jig things and work out 'OK here's my new plan and we've got some more income and put some more money into savings.' Even if you've got irregular income, you can use a spending plan if it's a bit inconsistent."
"Small businesses as well, they can have a personal plan and one for the business as well, so, it's very versatile and it's appropriate for anyone. Even if you've got a budget in place, I find spending plans are more efficient than a budget - and I've been doing budgeting for about 20 years now, so when I came across spending plans, it was like 'whoa' that's way more efficient than what I was doing, and I've been doing it for a long time."
Dee: "I'm sure people like the option to have their hands on their own spending plans, rather than having someone present something to them and say 'off you go' That's what you've got to do."
Jodie: "Yes, clients become part of the solution to their own problem"
Dee: "yes that's good, I think that's the best way to learn too"
Jodie: "They're doing it, so they learn it and then eventually they won't need my help. I don't want to make people dependent on me. I want to arm them with the tools."
Dee: "Build them up"
Jodie: "Build them up and empower them and serve them, help them serve themselves and take control. When they learn, they feel great about it."
Dee: "What's the main reason you find people come to you? Is it normally debt related, or is it job loss? Something completely different?"
Jodie: "oh, a bit of a mix, for some it's just getting a bit more control, so seeing that their spending money is getting bit more organised. Rather than just just spending it and then going 'ooh, where did it go?' Some of it's debt, so we help people come up with a plan to smash down their debt. Then they can put that money to better things. Even with smashing that debt, do it in a way that you can still enjoy your life, so not just 'all my money, every cent, has to go into my mortgage' or 'every cent going to the credit card', or whatever."
Dee: "I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that'
"At the moment what's the number-one way that you are acquiring clients, how can they get in touch with you?"
Jodie: "Yeah, the best way is to find me on Facebook (there's a link the the website), shoot me a message, happy to set up a zoom call, phone call, my email address is on there as well. Given the current environment, I would say Facebook."
Dee: "Alright, are there any closing statements? Or messages you want to leave?"
Jodie: "Don't be afraid of money. As much as things might feel impossible, and you might feel like you're really in a rut, you're in a hole and you're like 'oh, my gosh, this is just hopeless'. It isn't hopeless, you can get a plan and you can chip away at it and I can say that from experience. I've been there a number of years ago with personal circumstances, so you just chip away at it and you can get out, and a spending plan, even if you're in survival mode, still gives you a nice, holistic look at your spending, what you life is costing you and it helps get you back out of that hole. It will help you to see that you can be in control, it's not impossible. Everything's possible. You have have to have a plan in place to get you through it"
Go check out the Dollars and Sense Spending Planners, Gold Coast Website and Facebook page!
I can't say I knew a whole lot about spending plans before having a chat with Jodie. Whilst clearly a professional, she manages a friendly and personable demeanor - If you aren't reaching your financial goals and are feeling frustrated with the state of your finances, it seems that Jodie has some viable solutions for you.
Save up for that dream home, that family holiday, that romantic getaway, that new car! Jodie has the tools to help you with your 'Dollars and Sense'.
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