We road-test a financial personal trainer

It's just like the gym, only with less active wear

We road-test a financial personal trainer. It’s just like the gym, only with less active wear

Question time: do you flash, or do you stash, your cash? Or do you mix it up and go both ways?

Although we’re trying to save, we realised recently the dollars aren’t mounting up like we’d like them to be. So, in what might appear to be a counterintuitive move, we decided to pay to get financially fit.

Yes, that’s right. We got a financial personal trainer from enableMe. It’s just like the gym! But with less active wear.

Show me the money!

To start, enableMe looks at where you are now and what’s preventing you from getting ahead. Which, if you’re like us, is probably something you can’t see because you’re a bit emotionally attached to your money and your right to spend it on fripperies, so you can’t see the cash for the ATMs.

Our initial consultation was with Pippa Hogg, from the Wellington enableMe team, who asked us if we were savers, spenders or plodders. We are the beigest of the three – the very unsexy-sounding plodders.

With great humour, and a probing manner that would put the CIA to shame, Pippa walked us through what we currently pay each year for basically everything. She then asked about our plans for the future (house, family, retirement, llama breeding, etc).

It transpires my partner and I have different ideas about what we should be spending on things (like food), and there were things we had hugely underestimated. It also become apparent we were fibbing to ourselves about some costs –  I told Pippa with some pride that I don’t buy more than two lunches each month, then promptly did that three times the following week.

We also thought we had a good arrangement for our personal and joint accounts, but no, Pippa didn’t agree. She did however manage to not laugh in our faces about our ‘system’.

Using this information, enableMe can then design a plan and budget for us to start and build on, and work with us to make sure we get there.

They’ll also hold us accountable. In a nice way.

While you could do some of this yourself, there’s a good chance that you won’t stick strictly to your budget or hold yourself accountable if you veer off course when tempted by shiny trinkets. So while you might be thinking this is codswallop, we don’t need to pay for this help, we know that if we want to save, yes we do.

Probably the biggest eye opener is what enableMe calls ‘frittering’ (not a corn fritter fest – I checked). Frittering is what you spend without realising. Pippa’s examples include:

  • interest
  • late payment fees
  • coffees and lunches
  • reliance on credit cards
  • bank fees
  • hire purchases.

It’s like she knows me.

Recognising that like a diet people will stick to their financial regimen if they’ve got delicious things to look forward to, enableMe’s clients choose three non-negotiables (e.g. family activities, gym, coffee, Netflix, more cats) to ensure that although they’re saving, they’re still living. And their personalised plan is structured around those things.

Pippa sums it all up by pointing out that improving your financial situation doesn’t require you to get a massive pay rise, it’s about making what you do earn work better.

Looking to the future, if we do get a mortgage, enableMe can help there too. In fact, they modelled an example demonstrating how we could pay one off in seven years instead of twenty. I’m sure you can understand why that’s quite captivating.

Reference checks

To ensure we were making the right decision, I badgered two current enableMe clients I’d met to tell me how they’d found the process. 

Bridget Jones*, 39, joined enableMe five months ago. She’s single, doesn’t want kids, is renting but would like to buy/build eventually. She’s already made back the enableMe fee, and her savings and house deposit have grown faster than she thought they would in that length of time. She says, ‘I’ve always been a good saver but I was frustrated because I just wasn’t getting ahead – now I am. I’m also thinking twice about purchases that previously I would have bought without thinking.’

Wonder Woman*, 52, has been with enableMe for about two years. Married with three teens and a mortgage, she and her husband wanted to get a handle on their finances. As a couple they also had two different approaches to how they operated financially – and now they have one. ‘We’d been to other financial advisors who just told us to sort out our priorities. EnableMe worked with us to decide how much we could spend, they sorted out our accounts and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.’ She says the best thing about enableMe was how non-judgemental they were.

*Not even slightly their real names.

Now I’m an enabler

There’s a significant fee if you want to carry on after the initial consultation but we decided to go for it. And because I know you want to see us save heaps so I can buy you all a wine, I’ll blog again in a few months on our financial fitness levels (hopefully better than my actual fitness levels).

You can learn more about enableMe on their website, where you can also watch a video of founder Hannah McQueen in action on FairGo helping a family sort out their finances.

And if you’re interested, enableMe is offering a discount for Credit Simple readers on an initial financial consultation. Fill out the online form using the code ‘Credit Simple’ and pay only $100 plus GST (usually $300 plus GST).

Credit Simple

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