There are no signs of inflation declining anytime soon, and the effects of inflation can erode the value of savings over time. It is undoubtedly concerning to many people, including BrightDime users. To better understand how our coaches help users during trying times, we interviewed our lead coach, Caleb Rowe. Caleb Rowe is a Chartered Financial Analyst and co-founder of BrightDime.
What is BrightDime’s coaching Philosophy?
Caleb: Our coaching philosophy is to treat all of our users as people first, and to solve financial issues secondarily. We work with users to understand their situation and discover what it is they want to accomplish. Often that means working backwards from the initial question about something specifically financial. For example, a user may say, “I want to refinance my home.” This could be answered by just explaining the process and telling a user how to apply for refinancing. However, it’s better to understand why they want to refinance their home and see if there is a better option for the underlying issue. Our next step is to understand what they want to accomplish and why. With that knowledge, we walk them through their options, explain the pluses and minuses of different approaches, and come up with action items. These action items are incremental and achievable steps for making progress towards their goal. We want our users to feel fully in control of their situation, with concrete next plans in hand before we schedule a follow-up meeting.
What are the top 3 questions users are asking BrightDime’s coaches given the current economic climate?
Caleb: There is definitely a renewed interest in budgeting and people making sure they have a handle on their spending. We’ve been working with a lot of users on creating their first budget, putting together a plan for paying off their debt, and getting started with investing. The common thread is that people want to make sure that every dollar they have is accomplishing something for them as well as how to decide which is the best place for that next dollar to go.
What guidance would you give if someone asked you how to start a budget?
Caleb: We recommend that people just starting out with budgeting stick to a 50-30-20 budget. The 50-30-20 framework assigns 50% of a household’s income to “needs”, 30% to “wants”, and the remaining 20% to saving/investing for the future and paying down debt. It’s an eye-opening experience for many users and we really try to focus on that divide between “needs” and “wants.” That prepares people for future discussions on where spending can be pared back (if need be), but it also gives people a target for where their money should be going in a general and widely applicable way.
Are the coaching sessions confidential?
Caleb: Our coaching sessions are 100% confidential and they are never shared with anyone or any organization. A lot of these topics are really personal, and we want to make sure everyone understands that we don’t turn around and report information to their employers sponsoring BrightDime. If someone has a BrightDime account through their employer, the employer will not know they chatted with a coach, let alone the content.
How can an employee schedule time with a BrightDime coach?
Caleb: Once an employee logs into their BrightDime dashboard, they can book a coaching appointment that is most convenient for them. When it’s time for their appointment, an employee can login to their BrightDime account to start chatting with their coach.