Many of us rely on mentors to reach our goals in multiple areas of our lives. As a kid, perhaps it was an older sibling or family friend who showed you the ropes and helped you thrive socially and/or academically. Today, you may have a professional mentor: someone who has carved out the kind of career you dream about and provides tips on how to improve your resume or nail that next interview. Or you may look to a couple whose relationship seems bulletproof, even in the toughest of times.
Having a mentor is a smart move. Life doesn’t come with a playbook, and connecting with someone who has been there and done that is a great strategy for success. But often, people overlook an area where they could really use mentorship support: managing their finances.
Like your connection with those who matter deeply—your partner, friends, and colleagues—your relationship to money is one of most important in your life. As such, finding an advocate to help you navigate money-driven challenges or obstacles that may arise is vital to establishing a solid financial foundation.
How do you know you’ve found the right person? Consider the qualities that you have valued in other mentors you’ve had. More often than not, it’s not just what they’ve accomplished that makes them so helpful; it’s what they’ve gone through to get there. The same is true for your “money mentor”—you want someone who not only has expertise in personal finance, but who may have been in your position before.
With first-hand experience in what you’re going through, they’ll be able to truly “get” you, and provide great advice as a result. Sometimes, that means telling you not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear, when you need to hear it. In doing so, they’ll hold you accountable when your money-based actions don’t seem to align with your goals.
How can you help them help you? Don’t be afraid to get real. Share every piece of your financial plan with them, including the end result you envision. What does your ideal outcome look like, in all its white-picket-fence, power suit, or entrepreneurial glory?
In addition to your dreams and hopes for the future, be honest about how you often think and behave on the way to achieving—or even derailing—your goals. It’s important to share not just your amazing drive, for instance, but also the fact that you tend to make excuses or send yourself into a guilt spiral when things don’t go as planned. When you both are clear on the factors that could get in the way, you’ll be better at spotting and addressing them.
Finally, make sure you’re working together. Check in about what is and isn’t working, and use that feedback to strengthen your relationship and stay on track. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing your wisdom with someone in your shoes.