How a Financial Counsellor (and ex-banker) Helps Turn Financial Problems into Hope
Our guest today is Chris deVries, who worked for over 13 years with a large Canadian bank. The morning after we recorded this show Chris quit his job at the bank, and accepted a job as a leadership trainer for another organization. That makes Chris our first ever guest to quit his job (and career) within 24 hours of recording our show!
Chris started the show by explaining his background, and telling us about the wide range of people he has counselled through his church. In his experience the concept of managing finances is not taught well, and as a result many people go through life learning some tough lessons the hard way about debt and money.
As Chris says on the show:
Managing finances is a life-long process. It starts by establishing behaviours to keep you on the right road.
Most of us believe that low interest rates are great. Chris believes that in fact, low interest rates are a big part of the problem. It's the reason we don't consider the true cost of that new car or big screen TV, and how it will impact our cash flow. Combine low interest rates with high house prices, and we sometimes believe we are wealthier than we are - and that causes problems.
Knowing where your money goes is very important. When Chris first sits down to counsel a couple about their finances, he asks if they know where their money is going. He finds that most people know how much they earn, and they know their big monthly expenses, like their rent or mortgage, but they don't truly know where they spend all of their money. It's often because of costs like cellphone charges and dining out that people don't realize how much they are actually spending each month.
Practical Advice on Money Management
As a financial counsellor, Chris gives the following practical advice, a process he follows with everyone he counsels:
- Write it down. You need to know where your money goes each month.
- Do more analysis - look for areas to cut expenses.
- What is important? What are the reasons you are spending money on each item in your budget?
- Take steps to save money. Examples would be to call your cell phone provider to reduce expenses, and looking for ways to save on food and other expenses.
- With reduced expenses, the cash flow savings can be used to reduce debt.
Chris gives homework after his first counselling session, and when they meet again he follows up to make sure that the person he is counselling has taken the practical steps suggested to ensure they are making progress. Often the second or third meeting is a celebration of the success they have had implementing these positive changes.
Chris's Advice for Reducing Debt
Chris advises people to use their cash flow savings to pay down their highest interest rate debt first. As each debt is paid off, they celebrate the achievement, which is motivation to stick with the plan. Some advisers believe that you should pay off your small debts first, so you see that you are making progress, but Chris believes that financially you are better off by reducing your high interest debts first.
Chris's final advice:
- Don't wait until it's too late. Take action now.
- There is hope. Financial problems are difficult, but there are always options, so have hope, get good advice, and take steps to become debt free.
Resources Mentioned in the Show
- New Covenant Church in Brantford, Ontario
Click here for a full transcript to Show # 12- Turning Debt Problems Into Hope, with Chris deVries