I am not a trained financial expert. I'm not an accountant, I'm not a financial planner, and I'm not a stock broker. What's more, I've made many many money mistakes on my own financial journey. As a result, I've always been reluctant to sit down with people and go over their budgets.
That seems to be changing.
In March, I spent a couple of hours talking with a friend about her financial situation. A few days ago, another friend asked if I'd be willing to meet with him in the near future to puzzle through his budget woes. And yesterday, I took three hours to chat about money with my friends Wally and Jodie.
As always, I've changed names and certain identifying features in the story that follows. Unless I have explicit permission to share details, I do my best to protect people's privacy when I write about their intimate financial lives.
Wally and Jodie have recently begun dating. He's in his early forties (and recently divorced); she's in her late twenties. They both work in food service, and have done so all of their lives.
Their trouble — and the reason they asked me for help — is that they cannot seem to make ends meet. They work hard but never have anything to show for it. In fact, they feel like they're falling further and further behind.
“Can you help us?” Wally and Jodie asked.
“I can try,” I said. “Let's look at your numbers.” [Read more…]