The Value of a Quarterly Review
Michelle Briar is a Financial Gym client and wrote about her quarterly review experience. She is a wife, mom of two teen boys, avid reader, and self-professed beach bum who loves to soak up the Florida sunshine!
Prior to joining The Financial Gym, my husband and I handled our money in a very basic way. We’d receive our income, check our calendar of bill due dates to what needed to be paid before the next pay period, pay those bills, and the rest went to whatever we needed. Simple, right? We’d plan on saving some of those remaining funds, but then one of our cars would need a repair, one of our pets would need an immediate vet visit, and just like that our savings would be wiped out. So much for our $1000 emergency fund! We were living out Murphy’s Law, “if anything can go wrong it will”. We would have to replenish our savings account, getting caught in the loop of saving money and needing to spend it.
We always discussed how to spend our money, yet our method of handling money never got us very far. We never budgeted and have always had debt. My husband and I have carried debt our entire 20 years of marriage! Now, we’re in our mid-40s with debt comprised of a mortgage, student loans, a car loan, and an equity consolidation loan. We used to believe that at our ages we’d be much further along than we are financially. Admittedly, the process has been slower since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom most of those years, working here and there. That choice did save us money, but when more money came to us via salary increases, our spending increased. We just accepted that it would take us most of our lives to pay off our debts.
It wasn’t until my husband introduced me to a podcast called, “Listen Money Matters” that I was introduced to The Financial Gym -- a company and concept that really appealed to me. In the past, I had often wondered if we should hire a financial advisor, but in my experience, that was something only wealthy people did. During the podcast, founder Shannon McLay explained how her team of Financial Trainers had helped people handle their money successfully. I thought, “This is great! We could get help managing our money from someone with experience.” I excitedly shared the information with my husband. We agreed to give it shot, scheduled our Warmup Call, and joined The Gym that day.
Fast forward to this past April. We had our second Quarterly Review appointment with our Trainer, Chandra. During the meeting we updated personal information and accounts to ensure those remained current, discussed the progress we made toward our most recent goals, reviewed the Spending Report, set goals for the next quarter, and wrote down the next steps to reach those goals.
When our trainer and I discussed how well my husband and I were meeting our goals, we began with the “wins”-those goals we successfully achieved. One major win was being able to secure a home equity loan that enabled us to consolidate our credit card debt at a drastically lower interest rate, giving us substantial wiggle room to add $400 per month to our emergency fund. Another win was finally saving $1500 to our emergency fund.
On the flip side, we learned that we needed to get more of a handle on our spending. The Spend Report includes a breakdown of our Total Income, Total Expenses, and Weekly Spending. The report revealed line by line that we’d been spending too much on groceries and retail. Along with Chandra, I looked at the top spending categories to see what my husband and I could adjust.
In the end, we planned goals for the next quarter. Our main goal was to build our emergency fund to over $2000, and to pay off a credit card we reverted to using to pay for our cat’s recent surgery. (Precisely why we need a larger emergency fund!)
I look forward to our Quarterly Review appointments. Our next one is in July. Our Financial Trainer is an invaluable accountability partner. It’s useful having an objective opinion regarding our finances, as it is well known that money can be a divisive topic for many couples. It’s definitely less stressful for my husband and I to deal with money issues now that we have support in that area. When we have a win, I’m excited to tell Chandra. If we have a set-back, there is always a solution she can give us. Having her expertise, encouragement, positive outlook, and guidance to help us make wiser financial decisions is priceless. The Quarterly Review process has been an essential step in our financial success.
Looking to make some changes to your financial life? Schedule a warm-up call with a member of our team today to get started!