Why You Should Find A Financial Mentor


I’m very careful with my money, but everything about it is not clear as crystal. Every year around January, questions I have to ask about taxes, income, claims and reporting. Later, around September, I do my business finances and re-configure my rates (I work on the school’s calendar year). I wake up and my mind is spinning: Am I paying enough on my principal? What the heck is an escrow account and what goes under warranty? Despite researching the heck out of things, I still end up wrestling with questions.

There’s the anonymity of forums but there’s a vagueness about them that resists comfort. I can call professionals, but there’s this tricky thing about not wanting to give free advice. I can study personal finance guru’s publications at the library, but the advice is for anyone, everyone, and I still have questions on how it pertains to me. And it’s taboo as all get out to walk next door and dump my financial queries on neighbors, who will probably end up judging me and straining our relationship.

What’s the answer? A phone call away. I keep my financial mentor on speed dial. Whether she knows it or not, she’s an important part of my learning curve for my financial comfort. Everything from stamps to taxes, she’s probably got the answer. She’s the first line of defense between me and financial disaster, or at least financial incomprehensibility.

Just what does a financial mentor provide? Despite and because of other aspects of our relationship, it turns out that there are eight characteristics of our relationship that has evolved her into my mentor.

Trust: Blabbing, gossip and unadulterated sharing of information is completely absent from the relationship. Advice is honest, answers straightforward, and the instance of “I don’t know” is readily employed when necessary.

Peace of mind: You are doing the right thing, or a good thing, or a reasonable thing. It’s nice to hear someone say that in a world where peers are pulling this way and commerce is pulling that way and the economy is pulling whichever way it is pulling that day.

A reflection: You are not doing the right thing, and your mistake can lead to insecurity or a major hitch in your budget. The way you see it and the way it appears, despite your opinion of appearances. The motto may be “I don’t care what the Jones’ think,” but they may be right.

Opinionated advice: Exploring what to do about a given situation with another is better than brooding over it alone. Choices, options, and a fair discussion of consequences of each choice are the building blocks of a good decision.

A jumping-off point: Not everybody knows the answer, but may have a better idea of where to look. Even if I know my mentor doesn’t know, I can just call and ask to find out what steps she would take. If I don’t like the results, I call her back and ask for a second opinion.

The answer: Sometimes it’s just as sample as Q and A. What is…This is…Thank you, goodbye. I would expect this type of service from tax professionals or bankers. You never know what people happen to be experts at.

An example: Someone who doesn’t mind being observed in their habits, and is comfortable enough in those habits not be self-conscious about them with you. Not that I’d do every thing her way, but it’s good to see the experience that some ways work and others don’t.

Space: Choices are made, and disagreements about those choices are allowed. No prying, digging, snooping, scolding, harping, or any other abrasive behavior. Even if we spend hours together exploring all the discussions above, I know I’m not her, and she knows she’s not me, and in this manner we agree to disagree. And I will always come back if I need help.

If you don’t have a financial mentor, it is possible that the above qualities are present in other aspects of a friendship you already have, like about romantic relationships, school, or religion. If they aren’t, maybe they can be explored. In many cases, all it takes is one question to open the door to a long, lasting, and fulfilling relationship. You never know what answers are in someone else’s experiences, or whose experiences can hold answers for you.

Image courtesy of arielmeow

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6 Responses to Why You Should Find A Financial Mentor

  1. Dana says:

    I agree! My husband and I have had a few financial mentors over the years. Some we used for guidance and wisdom. A couple we used for accountability in helping us to get out of debt. Trust and Space are the most important to me in these relationships. The mentors greatly benefited our finances!

  2. SaveForHouse says:

    In addition to financial mentors, I feel that finding a good realtor is a very important “mentor” in the home buying process. I’m in the process of looking for my first house and could not imagine going through this process without the mentorship of my real estate agent. Even though I could save some money going the Redfin route, the money invested in my realtor is well worth it. Similarly, I agree with the author of this article that a financial mentor can add a ton of value, even if your mentor costs money.

  3. ajc says:

    I’ve been working on a ‘social experiment’ at 7m7y.com (my other blog) where I will be personally mentoring 7 Millionaires … In Training!

    I have just about selected the final 7 (after a 3 month online ‘reality show’ for want of a better term), but the real idea is to self-help 70, 700, or even 7,000 millionaire -wannabe’s … for exactly the reasons that you say.

    Thanks! AJC.

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  5. Osadg says:

    I completely agree!
    I recently found out that a friend I’ve had for years, refers to me as her money mentor. She’s always asking me for financial advice, and running things by me before she leaps head first into the unknown. She does feel comfortable asking me for advice because I do know that we have some very different opinions on what money means to us, and I’m willing to accept that she will make different choices than I would/have. But she stills feels confident in coming to me, because she’s seen the 180 I took with my finances over the past few years. Funny enough, the only reason I was able to do that is because I found someone who was a mentor for me. And that person had VERY different financial patterns than I wanted or have, but they were still there for all the advice I needed when I wanted a little more information.
    I think having a finanical mentor is extremely important-especially if you’re just starting to re-shape your finances.

  6. David Rothermel says:

    The things you point out are very good. I encourage everyone, however, to find someone who is not family or friend. These people are too close to you to really be honest about the really hard stuff. It is also a fact that they probably do not have the expertise to be giving you advice about your finances. Find a professional who does not sell anything, that you trust. You may have to pay a small fee, but it will make you thousands, if not millions, in the long run. And a comment on the one who thinks the realtor is a “mentor” in the home buying process. There are some wonderful realtors with their hearts in the right place and it sound like you found one. But remember, he/she is still a salesperson who makes a commission if you buy. This would not be the definition of a mentor.

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