What most struck me, during my first Money Mentors financial coaching term, in the fall of 2016, was the sheer HUMANITY of the program, and the warm, welcoming, enduring (and endearing) positivity of experience there.

Money Mentors, clearly, was no cut-and-dried approach to financial management, focused tightly on numbers and dollars, computations and spreadsheets. Instead, I found, to my delight, that I was immersed in a rich, warm, and welcoming human learning experience, even though it focused on a topic (financial management!) that I had long dreaded.

I mean, there I was, trying to cope with a host of financial stresses in my life, as well as all the emotional baggage attached to my money woes, and I was, quite frankly, afraid of what I might encounter when working with a financial coach. I had done some things right and some things oh so very wrong in my lifetime approach to money and finance. I was struggling to cope with a series of losses, both financial and emotional, which had left me feeling bereft and wounded, humbled and small. The last thing I wanted was to be confronted by a bunch of “I know better than you” bean-counters, who were going to teach and preach forms of money management that I would (once again) not be able to put into practice.

Learning, Growing, Feeling Empowered, and Finding Joy in Money Matters

What I have experienced with my financial coach, Inbal, and with my peers in Money Mentors has been a growing sense of empowerment and, indeed, joy. The program has been filled with warm, encouraging, and deeply knowledgeable coaches and peer leaders, as well as candid and open-hearted participants, willing to share knowledge and experiences honestly, from the mind, heart, and pocketbook.

I have learned, side by side, with others seeking to do better with our financial lives, people from all walks of life: men and women, young, middle-aged, and older adults, married, single, divorced, some with, some without children, both young and grown children, Caucasian, Asian, African, African American, and Middle Eastern people, Native Americans, Latinos, intergenerational Americans as well as newer immigrants from widely varying cultures and nations, all simply trying to do better with our money matters.

Some participants had some wealth but had lost it, others had struggled with money all their lives, some were learning how to manage credit for the first times in their lives, others were learning how to contend better with collection agencies and debt, still others were on the brink of financial breakthroughs, fulfilling long-held dreams of new careers, new studies, or new businesses. Here we were together, all sharing ideas and insights and knowledge, learning “best practices” together, but in a fluid, open-minded way that allowed for our individual needs, personalities, and styles to come through. I was overjoyed!

I, who have had an oftentimes uneasy relationship with money, or the lack of money, have found, from month to month, how genuinely encouraging and empowering it is to develop a more positive relationship with MONEY, and to do this all together, to gain so much greater knowledge through shared knowledge.

Working With My Financial Coach, Inbal

In 2016, I faced the daunting matter of a large debt that had been weighing heavily on me for over a year, and which had started to move into scary collections territory. In a timely Money Mentors peer session, I gained valuable tips and discrete steps about how to approach debt-payment solutions and debt settlements with collections agencies. My coach, Inbal, worked with me, individually, for about a month after this session, to help me prepare for the right approach with my particular debt.

I was, ultimately, able to contact the collection agency and settle the debt altogether, realizing a substantial savings on the total owed and getting completely out from under the shadow of this debt – something I would have had neither the courage nor the know-how to do before my Money Mentors experiences.

Now, there have been a few times, during my own Money Mentors journey over the past 18 months, when something that I heard – or said, or read, or thought about, or wrote about, struck a raw nerve, touching an old or a new fear of mine, or a sorrow, or a profound sense of loss. Financial matters can, after all, cut close to the bone and touch off all sorts of feelings, including anger, sorrow, and fear.

A personal loss in another arena – the loss of a loved one, the loss of home or income or the loss of health or able-bodiedness — can plunge us directly into financial loss as well, and despair can follow. I have had such moments, right there in a peer session or in a conference room with Inbal, when I could not fight back my own tears. And when this happened, I was always, ALWAYS treated with the utmost respect and compassion, and so I was able to recover and continue onward to finish the session, and return again the next month with renewed confidence and joy, eager to learn and evolve.

I feel honored and grateful to be able to work with Inbal and be in the Money Matters program, which is helping me gain knowledge and confidence, in financial matters, that I never had before, to the point where, now, I can even help share some of my newfound skills and confidence in this arena with others.

With Gratitude to Inbal

Inbal, you have been my patient, persevering, kind, and wise Money Mentors coach since I joined the program in the fall of 2016. When we first met, we seemed to immediately connect, at the levels of mind and heart. Each time that we meet (or speak, or email each other), you bring your wonderful analytical and calm nature to share with you, and you have been deeply generous with your time and your compassion. You also have been quick to bring, to my benefit, your adept mastery of Excel spreadsheets, budgets, and planning tables.

I know that I have not always been the easiest of students, since I often need reminders and gentle pushes to keep taking the next steps toward realizing my financial goals. I know that, during the past year, especially, when I was struggling also with physical illness and recovery, I brought my tears and fears right into the room with us during our financial coaching sessions.  This was, perhaps, more than you had signed up for in this role – which you do wholly on your own time, as a volunteer!

You give so generously, of your time, your insight, and your caring heart. You have helped me wade through (swim through!) some very rough waters, and I now know and trust that you will still be there for me, to help me reach my financial goals and build new methods of dealing with money that will sustain me and help me to thrive.

I am deeply grateful to you.

Many Thanks,

Nancy

 

 


Nancy Cohen

Money Mentors participant + freelance writer

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