Money Coach Leslie Gardner believes that one of the biggest mistakes people make with their money is not giving it enough time; being financially reactive instead of proactive. She says, when you slow down and pay attention to where you’re spending your money, it can be a real eye opener.
“I coached a young woman who was frustrated that her friends were able to take trips and she couldn’t afford to go with them,” says Leslie. “After we went through her bank statements and tracked her spending we saw that she was spending money at Starbucks and other fast food restaurants frequently. It added up to about $2500 a year. There’s your trip, I told her. It was a real eye opener for her and she changed her habits immediately, because now she really understood the value of those small purchases.”
Leslie has always had an understanding of managing money. Her working life began at 15 as a cashier at McDonald’s and at 19 she purchased her first home. Not surprisingly, she entered the banking industry and spent 13 years helping people in customer service, as a loans officer and several other positions before leaving to focus on her family. Then, to bring in more family income, she started a home based business as a certified bookkeeper; which has been successful for the last 20 years.
“I read about Money Coaches Canada in the Globe and Mail newspaper,” says Leslie. She was attracted to the idea of financial help that wasn’t tied to selling products. “I remember thinking; this is what people need, this is what has been missing in the world of financial advice.” The idea stuck with her, and she found herself thinking; this is what I want to do. She completed her Money Coach training in 2011 and hasn’t looked back.
Leslie’s ideal clients are families with children. Having raised two daughters and put them through university on her husband’s income and her part-time income, she knows first-hand how busy life can get and how challenging it can be to keep track of spending when there are so many distractions and obligations. But she also knows how important it is to build in life’s pleasures; whether it is a new outfit, some home improvement or a vacation.
“I work with people who make a great income,” she says, “but they don’t know where it’s all going.”
Leslie enjoys working with families because she gets great satisfaction from how quickly she can have an impact on their cash flow and help them turn chaos into a plan.
“Families,” she says, “are often under a lot of financial stress. I help them get organized, and prepared for all the annual expenditures, like insurance and property taxes and kids’ activity fees, that in the past were catching them off guard and overwhelming them.”
Leslie tells people that if they have a goal and a plan they can achieve it, so she thought she should stand behind her words and meet a financial goal of her own.
“I told my husband I intended to buy myself a Ford Mustang,” she says. “He laughed and said good luck with finding the money for that! But I did it! I took on extra bookkeeping work, watched my spending, and was able to buy a red convertible Mustang without it impacting the family finances. And that is what I find so satisfying about being a Money Coach: working with people on a plan to get past financial barriers so they can achieve their goals.”
Leslie loves to try new things and stay active. At age 49 she took up playing hockey and this summer for her 30th wedding anniversary, she and her husband will be kayaking, (they met all those years ago at McDonald’s). She also likes to ski and to walk her dog Chloe. In her ever evolving journey with money management Leslie is completing her Certified Financial Planner designation and has recently added retirement planning to her services. And of course, no matter how busy she gets, she always makes time for her money.