‘We spent £5,000 to help us stop spending’

When Monica McLellan talks about her spending habits, she compares herself to an addict. Two years ago she could not resist the temptation of a spontan­eous trip abroad and kept buying more and more handbags.

As a high earner, making more than £100,000 as an assistant head teacher and a buy-to-let landlord with five properties, she told herself she deserved these treats.

But then Ms McLellan, who spoke using a pseudonym, found herself in £72,000 of debt and managed to get out only by remortgaging her home. The experience made her realise she was going to need help to keep herself from falling into a similar hole again.

“People eat too much and they become overweight; they know that they shouldn’t eat cream cakes or drink too much alcohol but they do it anyway,” she said. “It is the same with money; I just don’t think people ­realise that.”

To change her impulsive spending habits, Ms McLellan, 37, turned to a financial coach.

She is not the only one to pay for this kind of help. In the past few years the business of coaching – of all types, not just financial – has grown to an estimated $20bn (£17bn) a year, according to the International Coaching Federation, an industry group.

Unlike a financial adviser, coaches cannot provide investment advice. Instead, they help people reach their goals by getting to the root of their spending patterns and guiding them through financial decisions. Anyone can call themselves a coach – the profession is unregulated – but some complete training programmes.

When Ms McLellan started to work with Emma Maslin, founder of The Money Whisperer, she realised her mindset was the problem. She began to understand how the way she was brought up had shaped her attitude to money: her parents were generous spenders, but not particularly careful.

Ms McLellan, from London, described the experience with a financial coach as “two years of financial therapy” to “un‑learn” the habits she had picked up.

She spent £850 for six sessions and now has an “accountability partner” – another former client of Ms Maslin’s – who keeps her spending in check. She has since saved £36,000 using a variety of tactics, including putting her credit card in her freezer to keep herself from using it.

She also sold handbags, furniture and possessions to create an emergency fund and now has savings pots that she uses to pay for travelling and other luxuries.

‘We were spending money on the silliest things’

Josh Mason, 28, and his partner, Dan Doyle, 33, hired a money coach after his mother told him that they were “terrible” with their money and they needed to do something about it.

“More than enough money was coming in, but then as soon as it came in it just went straight back out,” said Mr Mason, a hair stylist. “We tried to knuckle down and be a little bit more disciplined, but nothing really seemed to stick. We were making more money each month but were still in the same position, with no savings. We needed professional help.”


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