Who is "Charlotte Lidstone" anyway?
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Last week I reviewed the posts that I have put on the blog over the last 2 months and I realised something. I realised that the vast majority of the posts I write are either about couple’s communication, or about spending and savings tips.
That’s quite natural, really, considering that the purpose of this blog is to sit alongside my business, and that business is financial coaching for new and expectant parents. It makes sense, then that the vast majority of the posts should be aimed at new parents, and focused on how to plan for and talk about, the costs associated with having a baby.
But there’s something missing from those posts – which is, quite simply, an explanation of why you should be bothered to read (and ultimately put into practice) the guidance of some random person on the internet calling themselves a financial coach.
The truth is that it doesn’t really matter what my guidance is, or how apt my communication techniques might be for your relationship now that you are about to become parents, unless you buy into me as an individual – unless you feel a sense of connection and affability with me. With that realisation in mind, then; I wanted to write this piece as a little bit of an introduction to me and exactly what I do as a family financial coach.
As you probably already know through scoping out the website and reading any other post on this blog, my name is Charlotte. At the time of writing, I am in my early 30s and I live on the South coast of England, just outside of Ringwood (which is about 20 minutes away from Bournemouth).
I am married to Richard, who is in his “later” 30s, and you may already be a little familiar with him through his occasional post on this same blog. Richard is not a financial coach at all – and his blog posts don’t cover money. But I gave him (possibly dubious honour) of writing parenting posts to provide a different element to this website - because as much as it's about finances, my coaching is more so about "family" . He writes one a fortnight for me, and they are largely his musings on being a father, what it’s like, how he feels about it and what he might have chosen to do differently if that were an option.
Together we have one daughter, a little girl called Rosalind. Rosalind recently turned 2, and with that big milestone came a whole lot of grown-up attitude (what Richard and I now both affectionately call “sass”). Although she might be pint-sized at present, our toddler is a whole teenager in a travel-mug.
My inspiration for creating my business was largely Richard and Rosalind. We hadn’t been parents before, I suspect just like many of you choosing to read this blog. And when I was pregnant, Richard and I realised that with becoming parents comes a whole host of choices and decisions to be made; and actually, despite what you might have heard, absolutely nothing prepares you for being a parent until you are one. Just like all other first-timers, Richard and I were faced with a lot of questions about work, childcare, schooling, our aspirations as individuals and as a family, and to be perfectly honest; we didn’t know where to start with answering them.
The thing about being a parent is that you can (and will) receive a lot of guidance and advice about what other parents did (including your own) that you will be expected to use to shape the way in which you parent and the decisions that you take. The problem with that logic is that all those bits of advice and guidance shaped other people’s families – and the way that they parent, and the family lifestyle that they choose to lead, might look nothing like the vision that you have for your own family.
Possibly, even worse, you might not even know what your family vision looks like – you might not have thought about the future at all (Richard very much fell into this category for at least the first 6 months after Rosalind was born…) You might be laser-focused on prepping your nursery; what travel system to buy and whether to breast or formula-feed that big “life-altering” questions like who is going back to work, when and how, or whether to save for private schooling don’t even enter your atmosphere.
The good news is that a lot of those big life-altering questions aren’t “life-threatening”. Ultimately, you don’t have to plan years and years in advance with children – because, after all, plans change as do our desires and our goals.
That being said, there is somewhat of a benefit in at least starting to “consider” those questions – starting to ponder what your family rather than your “couple” life looks like – because it’s easier to take the next junction on the motorway onto a different road, than it is to start the journey when you’re already a family (because experience teaches you that getting everyone and all the baby accoutrements out of the house and into the car is THE HARDEST part of any journey…)
That’s why I created The Family Money Coach– to help couples just like Richard and I, just like you; to start having those conversations about family life – to starting creating the map for your family road trip.
Many people that I speak to think that being a family financial coach (or couples money communication coach as I sometimes call myself) means that I am a little bit like a financial adviser – in that I tell you where to put your money in order to achieve your goals.
There are similarities, I grant you. But the difference between me and a financial adviser is that I am focused on your family – less on your finances. To put it another way; I get you to focus on your “why”, before thinking about the “how”.
Your finances are important to the process, of course (otherwise what would the point be of me being a family financial coach), but ultimately they are the “resource” not the “result”. I created my business so that parents just like me and you could have a safe, understanding space to openly discuss with each other what they wanted the future to look like – and come together to create a shared family “plan”. Once we know what your ideal “result” is, we then look at how you can both best use the “resources” (money) that you currently have, and that you’ll have in the future (based on things like work aims etc) to achieve that “family plan”.
I created my business because I was that new parent, I was YOU.
I knew that I could go and call up any financial adviser (and I know a lot of them from my background in investment research) and ask them to open a pension for me, a Junior ISA for Rosalind and make regular contributions to an investment account for our surplus income. But I also knew that doing that wouldn’t solve the problem I was feeling as a new or expectant mum.
I didn’t feel financially “insecure”; I felt “future-worry”.
What I wanted was to be able to talk with Richard, open and honestly about the future, what my aims and ambitions were, how they played into our new family life, what would stay the same and what I wanted to change. I know now, 2 years down the line, that Richard wanted to have those same conversations with me – but was afraid to as well. Afraid in case I didn’t like what he said, but also afraid in case what we WANTED was something different to what we could AFFORD.
We worked with a coach to help us learn to talk about our desires and wants, our worries and anxieties as new parents. And it helped, it helped us to both break down our barriers and be completely honest about what we wanted the future to look like. What that process didn’t do was help us both to then assess our “resources” (money), and assess how the way in which we were both using, spending, saving and budgeting those resources would help us achieve that future. That part we had to do on our own – and it was tough.
It was tough because we all treat the way we manage money as a representation of ourselves – we are complimentary if we manage money well, critical if we don’t.
That’s the extra part that I help people with as a family financial coach. Working with me is about your family – your aspirations and your plans for the future. Once we have a clear picture of the ideal future for you both, then, and only then; do we look at your family resources, and how you can use the money that you have and will have, to realise that plan.
And if, once we’ve done all that planning, you would like to get advice and guidance on where to put your “resources” to invest them for future returns, then a financial adviser would be an excellent next step.
I hope that helped to give you a little bit of an insight into me – because it was actually really soothing to write that all down!
Anyhoo – catch up with you next week,