Once you get further down your mission to financial independence, finding yourself a good, trustworthy and inspirational mentor can be absolutely key to your success on this mission. Especially if your aspirations go beyond “getting more control over my finances” and if you have indeed set yourself the target to get somewhere between stages 4 and 8 of the 8 stages of financial independence, you might find that without a mentor it will often feel like treading water.
Note that a mentor is very different to a financial advisor: the latter you pay whereas the first one you don’t. An advisor is also more a person to give you practical advice whereas a mentor can be more inspirational, somebody who keeps you going even when the going gets rough.
The advantages of having a mentor
A mentor can help you in a myriad of ways, including some of the following:
- Accountability – A mentor can help you stick to your goals and make sure you will actually achieve them. They will push you to work towards them, ask for regular feedback and most importantly they won’t allow you to simply forget about your targets or to go back to accepting the status quo. Being held accountable for something makes you much more likely to (want to) actually achieve your goals.
- Experience – Usually mentors bring a wealth of experience to the table, they have often overcome similar struggles to what you are facing, have discovered the ins and out of various strategies and know first hand what works.
- Goal setting – setting realistic yet challenging goals can be difficult and a mentor can help you with the process of what is important to you, how to set goals and how to implement these goals. You don’t want them to be too easy to achieve but then they shouldn’t be completely unattainable either!
- Honesty – sometimes it can be easy to either get too optimistic or equally too pessimistic about your financial situation or lifestyle. You can feel you are too far behind, your money isn’t growing or that you started looking after your finances way too late and that it almost isn’t worth it anymore. Or conversely you might feel that things are going well, that you’re really powering through, saving and investing every penny you can find. A mentor will be able to put things into perspective for you, tell you whether you’re doing things right or not, can see that you’ve maybe taken things a little too much to the extreme or that you can easily do more.
- Criticism of your plan – your plan might not be good, it might miss a solid basis or might be overly simplistic or complex, thinking you can do too much at the time, taking on too many projects or conjuring up more debt in favour of some investments.. A mentor can have a critical look at your plan, help you readjust it and increase your chance of success.
- Inspiration – your mentor likely knows a lot more about personal finance than you so they can be a great source of inspiration, new ideas and an increased understanding of finances. They can help you learn new things, master new skills and implement new habits as they probably have a lot more to offer than what you have learned up to now. They can generally serve as a great inspiration and serve as an example.
These are just some of the reasons why a personal finance mentor can be a great help to you and to your mission to financial independence.
Step 84 – Find a mentor – in detail:
If you have decided to get yourself a mentor, here are some steps that will help you to find one:
- Jot down idea of why you’d like a mentor. What do you struggle with most? Have a look at the list above about what a mentor can offer you and determine which of these apply to you and whatever else you need help with or would benefit from especially.
- Avoid trying to find a friend or a family member to become your mentor. Even though this might sound like a good idea, especially at the beginning, a friend or family member probably won’t be critical enough and they might not necessarily have the experience you are looking for. You are also likely to become much more defensive about any type of critical questions they might venture to ask. Long story short, best to try to find somebody who isn’t a close friend or family member.
- Look at your acquaintance network, colleagues or ask others whether they know of anybody.
- Do a search in your social network, use social platforms like LinkedIn or reach out during conferences or workshops. You can use different criteria to find somebody: based on your location, profession, family situation… You want to find somebody you admire and respect and who in all honestly you sort of want to be like.
- Consider getting somebody who is either a good amount older than you or somebody who is significantly younger. An older mentor can provide you with more experience, whereas somebody younger might have a better understanding of new technologies or opportunities.
- Think about what you can offer a mentor. There has to be something in it for them too, something they will get out of this new relationship. This could be as simple as offering them a free lunch, a new experience, or making them look good if they can claim that you were their mentor. Remember that you are in a way trying for somebody to “take on your case” so you’ll need a decent sales presentation on yourself. Mentors likely won’t want to spend (waste) time with people they don’t think have to potential to actually achieve.
- Don’t ask somebody straight away to be your mentor. Instead ask for a meeting, take them out for lunch or arrange for a mutual acquaintance to introduce you. Get to know them in person and let them get to know you. Prepare yourself with some questions you’d like to ask them to get to know them better.
- After the initial meeting, analyze whether you still feel this person would be a good mentor to you. Did they give you any food for thought? Did they make you feel more inspired and motivated?
- If not, thank them for their time, then rinse and repeat and find somebody else.
- If they did, send them a quick message to thank them for their time and then indicate you’d like to meet again. If they are happy to meet again, that would be a good moment to present your ideas and ask them to be your mentor.
- Once you’ve found a mentor, remember that you WANT them to be critical, to play devil’s advocate and to call you out at times. Don’t take the easy road and give up when this happens. It is what they are there for, to make you better, improve your plan and to get you to your financial freedom targets faster.
Finding a mentor might be difficult at first but once you’ve found one they have the potential to give you real good advice, help and offer guidance for years to come. Commit to this special relationship and honour the feedback that they give to make you better.
Read more about my 100 steps mission to financial independence or simply decide to take control today and join us on our step-by-step quest on how to make your finances work for you, starting with step 1.