Three things I learned interviewing a money coach

Money lessons from Gold Coast coach Nat McMahon

As you know, I’ve been working my way through the money minefield for a while now and I’m constantly on the look out for opportunities to talk or learn about personal finance.

So, I was super excited to meet up with a local independent money coach, right here on the Gold Coast.

Nat has a banking and financial planning background and was shocked at how many people were making bad financial decisions because “they don’t know what they don’t know”.

“I realised I needed to help people understand more and get more structure in their lives so they’re not making decisions that are hurting them,” she says.

“There’s a big difference between you controlling your money and your money controlling you.” #moneylessons #moneycoach

Nat created her business The Money Coach to combine life skills (she’s a qualified life coach) with financial literacy.

I’ve recorded our chat and will be uploading it as a podcast episode soon (yay!), but here are three things I learned from speaking with Nat.

3 things I learned from a money coach

Know how much you can live on

Nat says of all the people she’s worked with over the years, only about 30 per cent know how much money they need to live on.

“So, 70 per cent of people that I see, speak to and read about are running around with no idea what they can afford,” she says.

She says we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to managing our finances.

A lot of her clients tell her, “we earn so much money but I don’t know where it all goes”.

Her money coaching process is about giving people the power to control their money, so it doesn’t control them.

“Some people just wing it… they don’t know what’s going on along the way.

“There’s a big difference between you controlling your money and your money controlling you,” Nat explains.

The money coaching process

Nat runs group or individual coaching sessions.

In the group sessions, she helps to demystify money and gives people a starting point to manage their finances, while the individual sessions are tailored to each person’s circumstances.

“It’s all about putting clarity around where you are now and where you want to be in the future, and then working out how that can happen,” she says.

Her process for individual coaching has three key steps.

Big picture

“We put all their data into a spreadsheet to give people a snapshot of what their whole world looks like on an annual basis.

“Then we can see how much they’re bringing in, what their expenses are, and how much is left over for saving.

“I find so many people say, ‘I want to buy a house next year’ but they don’t have the cash flow ability to save that much money in that amount of time.”

Goals and buckets

“Not having a focus means you will throw any excess money at the wall, so goals and money management are equally as important as each other,” Nat says.

She talks buckets: “The big bucket is what you need to live on and the smaller buckets are the things that relate to your goals or the added extras.”

“It’s all based on what you’d like your life to look like and what you’d like to spend.

“If you know what your purpose is, you’re more likely to stick to your plan and you can make better decisions on the run.”


“People’s circumstances are always changing, so I’m not about fixing it for you once and sending you on your way,” she says.

“I’m about giving you the tools and techniques that can help you do it yourself.”

Nat sets check-ins to give her clients the opportunity to tell her what’s working and what’s not.

“Some people are natural goal setters; other people have never set a goal in their life. Life coaching is all about uncovering what’s best for the individual.”

It’s always a work in progress

“Regardless of how good you think you are, you can always be better,” she says.

“I never stop reading and I will never stop learning.”

And even a money coach has times when financial things are not perfect.

“There have been years where I’ve been more in the winging-it space.

“I’ve always had structure, it doesn’t mean I’ve always been great with what I do. I’ve changed the way I do things many times. Some things work for me, others don’t. It’s absolutely a work in progress.”

Natalie McMahon The Money Coach
Natalie McMahon, The Money Coach

A few final tips

Nat says managing your money well comes down to education, environment and awareness.

“It’s the people you surround yourself with, and what you watch and read can make a big difference.”

She says physically tracking your money can be a great way to build your awareness. She also recommends finding out as much as you can about financial products, services and investments.

“I’m a big believer in knowledge as power. The more you know, the more you can make informed decisions and not get sucked in by get-rich-quick schemes.”

And finally, “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!”

I’d love to hear about the process you use to keep track of your money. Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to cash?

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