Money Coaching Tools Creatively Map Your Financial Future

Stickers and sketching feel so much more freeing than spreadsheets. That's the philosophy behind Money Coaching, which uses hands-on activities to hone in on one's needs and wants.

Many people see one-on-one coaching as a way to move forward in life. The resulting Money Coaching service, (at Capital One, it's free and available in select markets including Boston, Austin and San Francisco) guides customers through a personalized process aimed at boosting their financial confidence —with a twist. The program's interactive and creative materials, including stickers, emojis and drawings, help to get to the root of one's goals.

And it's far from child's play. Researchers have long known that the simple act of writing something down makes a person more likely to do it. But what about sketching it? "Adult coloring is meditative; it helps you focus," says Ayla Newhouse, Service Design Manager for Capital One Café, a Money Coach who helped design Capital One's coaching materials. In fact, tapping into one's inner artiste is an age-old technique used by famed psychiatrist Carl Jung, who prescribed coloring to patients to help calm and center their minds. Money coaching applies that concept to getting comfortable with talking about one's finances.

Ideal for "anyone going through a life transition who wants to take a creative approach to understanding their money better," according to Newhouse, the money coaching exercises help a person focus on what his or her life goals truly are, whether that's making space in your home and budget for a new pet or putting more money toward your child's college education.
"[People] want to make smart choices, but they go online and there isn't a clear-cut answer. Sitting down with someone unbiased is super helpful, and something unique a bank can offer," Newhouse says.

Seeing is believing

To that end, during a one-on-one money coaching session a coach might ask a customer to rank goals or identify a time in one's life when he or she felt truly alive. Instead of bottom lines and budgets, the focus is on feelings, beliefs, values and goals—and how to put all of that into action to create a personalized path to financial confidence. For example, money coaching participant Kate van Geldern Bowler worked with her coach to break down her goals into actionable steps on sticky notes. "The sticky notes really helped me because I'm very anxious about writing things down on paper—they feel so permanent!" she says. "The sticky notes were flexible though, and allowed me to pull them off if we came up with a better idea, or rearrange the order… It was a very fluid process (and visual, which helps me immensely!). The visualization of all of that helped me feel like I could start taking some baby steps now to march forward toward those new goals."

Newhouse adds, "People in money coaching sessions not only overcome a natural reluctance to discuss finances with a stranger, but also achieve far deeper insight into what they truly want in life and what role their finances can play in helping them achieve those ends."

A personalized approach

With a roster of activities at their disposal, money coaches play a bit of matchmaking, asking insightful questions and doing an introductory activity that helps the coach then match you with the right tools for you at this time in your life. The materials work for everyone in different ways—while the outcome will be entirely different, the same activity will spark something unique in anyone.

For example, a bride-to-be in the process of combining finances with her future spouse told her money coach she was unsure how to communicate her needs to her partner. The coach directed her to an exercise to rank the importance of short- and long-term expenses (including everything from gym membership to buying gifts for friends and family) and determined that saving for a new home and all the furnishings that go with it was a top priority. She then had something tangible to help kick-start a conversation about shared goals.

"It goes back to feeling like you are in control, maybe for the first time," Newhouse says. "You can make a small shift that can make a big impact for you."

For more information on the Capital One Money Coaching program in Boston, Austin and San Francisco, visit

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