One winter Friday afternoon, we sat down and got to know Dharmesh. Born and bred in Bolton, but currently living in London, we discovered exactly what the Finance Business Partner got out of his financial coaching experience with Octopus. 

Hi Dharmesh! We like to start our chats with a little bit about yourself, if that’s okay.

Of course. I’m Dharmesh, I currently live in East London, but I was born in Bolton. It’s been a crazy change going from smaller cities all of my life to this place! I live with my wife, we actually got married at the beginning of this year. It was a small wedding of 30 people – it  sounds cliche – but it was the absolute best day of my life! I currently work as a Finance Business Partner, in theory I do for the company what I should be doing with my finances. We’re expecting our first kid in May, so it’s time to start doing some planning of our own. 

Wow. So is that what got you interested in financial coaching?

Pretty much. My personal financial planning journey started around 12-18 months ago. We had a speaker come in to work, who gave a talk on financial freedom and it just really got me thinking. The key starting point was visibility and just understanding where you actually spend your money, like in bars or eating out. I then saw something for Octopus MoneyCoach through work and I thought it made sense for me and my wife to try it. I wanted to optimise what we’re doing, because people don’t tell you how expensive having a child is! 

Did you have any preconceptions about financial coaching before you started?

Honestly, not really. I was expecting it to be less prescriptive than it was. There was such a solid, detailed, plan which was completely tailored to exactly what I needed. I think I thought it would just be more of a general chat about investments and pensions. It was a really pleasant surprise.

Before coaching, was there anyone else in your life you would speak to for financial advice?

Yes, I have different people for different things! There’s one friend who I speak to about investments, pensions and longer term pieces, because she’s very much into the stock market etc. Big financial decisions I tend to talk to my parents as a sounding board. There’s lots of people in my life who are good sounding boards actually.

Was your first chat with your coach what you expected?

It was much more of a life chat, which I think is really important. It was nice to have that initial connection, so your coach understands a bit about who you are and why you’re there. I often find that’s missing in most consulting type things. My coach was really structured in the way she approached our chat and I think, especially when it comes to your finances, you sort of need that template/structure to work it all out. It started out a bit more free form – what is the state of your finances, why are you doing this. Then we moved onto my goals, which was really interesting. So often you’re engrossed in those mid term targets of 12-18 months away, but it’s great to think about further down the line and how you can get to where you want to be. In short, my coach was great and super friendly.

What are some of those big goals you’re working towards?

Financially it’s making sure there’s some money to help my kid with. Whether it’s for a house deposit or uni fees – I’d love to be able to do that. The second one is paying off my mortgage! Third is retiring at 55. On a personal level, I’d love to be a grandad one day. A really cool one.  

What’s the biggest thing you’ve taken from coaching?

I think the key thing is that it’s brought those events which are 20-30 years down the line, into things you can actually start actioning now. A lot of people will say retirement is far away, but actually if you want to have a comfortable retirement – that’s something that takes a lot of work now.

So is your wife joining your sessions?

The first session was just me, but then I asked for my wife to be put in the plan. It made sense as we’re having a baby!

Why do you think money is still a bit of a taboo topic?

My wife and I were literally discussing this earlier today. I think it’s the whole “stiff upper lip”. In British social circles, there’s almost a point of embarrassment if you earn more than your friends, you don’t want to say it because you feel like your wealth might make them uncomfortable. And if you earn less, you don’t want people to look down on you. There’s still this notion of hierarchy – you see it in the workplace all the time. People respect other people because they have certain titles and I think that trickles down to all parts of our psychology.

Do you think there’s a benefit to being more open?

100%. As soon as you bring things into the fore and make them visible, you create accountability for yourself or those around you. You then also share all your positive and negative experiences for people to learn from. My coach and I had a session on pensions and I learned things I never knew before – I thought to myself “I should message my friends about this”. Because it’s not advice people would often seek, so then they miss out. I don’t think I ever would have known if work hadn’t offered me financial coaching!

We provide dedicated financial coaching to help you achieve all your goals and improve your overall well being. Want to find out more? Book your first session here.

At Octopus MoneyCoach, we’re dedicated to helping you organise your money to make those dreams a reality. That’s why we’re excited to tell you we’re launching a brand new financial planning tool with lots of new features, designed to help you do exactly that.

So what’s new with your plan? 

1. Getting the basics right

We want it to be even simpler and more intuitive to create a personalised plan alongside your coach. 

We have designed our new tool from the ground up with speed, stability and security as our top priorities. You’ll find that the new tool is a lot snappier and more reliable, and our in-house identification system means that your information now has even stronger security in place to protect it.

2. Create and compare different scenarios

We’ve made it easier for you to compare what your future finances will look like with and without implementing the suggestions from Octopus MoneyCoach.

Want to see what your retirement income will look like if you stop working five years earlier? How about if you were to send your children to private school? We’ve made it easier for you to make these changes and save them as unique scenarios, so you can easily come back to them later.

Plus, sometimes you want to focus on the next 5 or 10 years of your plan – and in our new Projections Graph, you can do exactly that. Easily zoom in and out by setting the years you want to view.

3. More detail, so it’s clear what’s going on with your money

We’re constantly looking at ways to make your money clearer for you, so you know what’s going on at every stage of the journey to achieving your goals.

Our new retirement snapshot gives you a picture of what your retirement income could look like if you continue what you’re doing now, and if you take your coach’s recommendations on board. See a breakdown of where your money is coming from and what that means for your yearly income once you’ve retired.  

Plus, we’re making big improvements to how we model your investments, to make sure you’re on track to reach your goals.

Throughout spring 2022, we’ll gradually roll out the new financial planning tool to all our existing customers. If you’d like to be one of the first to get access, join our waiting list.

There’s even more to come over the next 12 months. We’ll be regularly releasing new features, so keep an eye on your inbox for more updates from us. 

Becks a Digital Marketing Executive talks changing your goals and saving in a new city. 

Lovely to meet you Becks. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

Of course. I joined Octopus in January this year. I’m originally from the West Midlands but I recently moved to London – just two months ago actually. I wanted to try something completely different. You know, start my career in something new, see some different scenery and just get involved in the city life really.

It’s obviously been a pretty weird year, but what’s been the best thing about it for you?

I’ve saved so much money whilst being at home! And I’ve also been on my own house buying journey, I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’ve done a lot of new things which have actually made this year really positive.

That’s amazing – if you had to give this chapter of your life a name, what would it be?

Hmm… I think “Start Something New”. Moving to London is something I’ve always wanted to do, but there have been different things in my life that have sort of held me back from taking that next step. Now, I feel like I’ve ticked off my next milestone.

It sounds like a lot has changed for you over the last year!

Yes, lots of things! My goal used to be to buy a house in the Midlands, get on the housing ladder and settle down a bit. But I realised it wasn’t something I really wanted to do, it was more something I felt I should do because everyone else was doing it and my parents thought it was a smart move. But I didn’t feel ready to settle down – I wanted to travel and do new things.

How did you break away from that way of thinking? 

Well, the whole last year in itself was so different that it wasn’t that hard for my thinking to be different too. I just go for what I want more now. Life is so short – you should just get out there and do the things you want to!

Wow, so tell us a bit about your experience with coaching?

I’d never heard of financial coaching before Octopus MoneyCoach. I got involved with it through work at just the right time. It was when I started searching for places to rent in London and was realising just how expensive it was actually going to be. Especially when compared to the West Midlands! So I needed to get in the right frame of mind and get my head into everything. You know – how much can I save and how much can I spend, to make this move worthwhile.

What was the biggest surprise for you when you started the programme?

How you can see your whole future almost! Based on what your salary is now and how much retirement/pensions you can save and all that sort of stuff. It’s so interesting and I didn’t think my coach would go into as much detail as they did. It gives you so much peace of mind to know what you have and it’s really interesting to see how much you potentially could have. 

What’s your dynamic with your coach like?

From the very first time we spoke to each other I felt completely at ease. She’s so kind and calm. I also immediately felt comfortable talking to her about finances, even the details of my spending, or my goals, or what I want. She made it clear that I could book in a meeting with her regularly. I like to be really on top of my finances and I’ve loved seeing what percentage of my money I’m actually saving. 

Are there any specific goals you’re working towards at the moment?

I want to eventually get the house that I was initially saving for in the Midlands. I’ve sort of set myself a plan that in about five years I’ll buy the house and hopefully it will be even better than what I was originally going to get! I also just want to be financially comfortable – go on holiday and all those things without worrying. I prioritise my wellbeing – for me it’s important to be able to go on holiday and treat myself to nice luxuries!

Who would you recommend Octopus MoneyCoach too?

I’ve actually already recommended it to quite a lot of my friends. Everyone’s got their goals for what they want to be and how they want to live. Everyone wants to feel secure. It would also be really useful for someone like my dad, someone in the later stages of their life looking at pensions etc. Really, it’s useful for anyone! If you’ve got certain goals or just want to be smarter with your money. 

Finally, what financial advice would you give to your younger self?

Start saving when you’re younger. Even when you’re at uni, just watch what you spend a bit more. Learning how to save is such a useful skill to have. 

We provide dedicated financial coaching to help you achieve all your goals and improve your overall wellbeing. Want to find out more? Book your first session here

Harry, a software developer living in Croydon, tells us all about his experience over the last year with Octopus MoneyCoach. From lifetime ISAs, to learning about inflation, we found out how his coach helped him to reach his financial goals and think about money differently.

Hello Harry! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how the last year has been for you?

It’s been a pretty great year actually! I moved into software development, a goal I was working towards for a very long time, so it felt really great to achieve it. My girlfriend and I also moved into our first house. We bought it in Lockdown so it was a bit touch and go for a while – you know how stressful it can get. There were so many moving parts but I feel really settled now. It’s so nice to have your own place. I also ran a marathon! 

What a knockout year! How would you title this chapter of your life? 

The roaring twenties I guess! I’ve always seen this period of life as the time to make big decisions and work out what you want to do. Figuring out your career, sorting out your living situation, putting the bins out. Basically maneuvering yourself into adulthood. 

So what got you interested in financial coaching?

Octopus MoneyCoach did a presentation at our workplace and it got me curious. The first call with my coach really made me start to think about everything – my financial plan, how much money I’ve got coming in and going out, how much I’ll need in the future. It all fits into the theme of becoming an adult, I’m not a student anymore. I’ve never been a great saver, so it was a chance to learn a new set of skills. 

And had you ever heard of financial coaching before?

No, I hadn’t! It had never crossed my radar. I always thought it was either just gimmicky things like switching banks every month to get £100. Or on the other end of the spectrum, for really wealthy people who put their money in lots of different places to avoid taxes. I never really considered there’d be something that would fit my situation. I didn’t want to spend all my time doing annoying, tiresome things. But actually it’s all really interesting insights, in the middle tranche. I’d recommend coaching to anyone like me. 

How do you get on with your coach?

He’s great. He was a really big help in buying the house, which was my main objective. He showed me how to use lifetime ISAs to get the best of what’s on offer out there. He even set me up with a mortgage broker and most importantly was someone who I could always talk to. There’s so much information out there, it’s really easy to get bamboozled. It gives you so much peace of mind to talk things through with someone independent, who can provide clarity of thought. He also taught me about inflation, which is something that had never dawned on me before! You’ve got to make your money work for you because it’s just decomposing, sitting in your bank account. Having gone through the coaching, I’d say it’s 100% worth it. 

Were there any immediate benefits from the coaching? 

With my coach’s guidance my girlfriend and I switched to the right ISA at the right time. We ended up getting £3,000 each from the government, which helped massively with the house. That and feeling reassured, honestly. 

Why do you think talking about money is still a bit taboo?

I guess it’s just so baked into British culture. Even working in a super transparent company like I do, money is still very hush hush here. I think there’s a sensitivity around it, because you don’t want to cause offence or be seen to be showing off. Which is a shame because I think people would be a lot better off – because if you talk about it you can learn about stocks and shares and ISAs and the more money you’ll have!

What financial advice would you give to your younger self?

Get a summer job I think. My brother did that and he has loads more money than me! Also to think before buying stuff. When you move house you realise just how much stuff you buy that you don’t really need.

We provide dedicated financial coaching to help you achieve all your goals and improve your overall well being. Want to find out more? Book your first session here.

We caught up with Charlotte, a newlywed in-house lawyer for a luxury travel company, one sunny afternoon in Essex. She filled us in on how financial coaching has helped her meet her goals and what she’s learnt from her coach. 

Hi Charlotte, thank you for giving us your precious Friday afternoon. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve actually just got back from my honeymoon. I got married two weeks ago today. We had to rearrange it several times because of Covid. But it was all worth it in the end. It was such a perfect day – third time’s a charm! I also work as an in-house lawyer and do a lot of Cross Fit. I’m obsessed with it. 

And besides the wedding, what was the best bit about last year?

Actually a lot of UK holidays. I haven’t really explored the UK since I was a child and my husband and I did a few great trips to Scotland. We did lots of lovely walks, including one along the Loch Ness. I used a travel company to carry my stuff from place to place. Even though my husband said that was cheating and carried his own! 

If you had to give this chapter of your life a name, what would it be?

A tale of two halves. In some ways it has been the most stressful year ever, both professionally and personally. But then in other ways there were so many positives to come out of it all. Like extra hen parties! I think I had six or seven in total. It’s been so amazing to just appreciate all the small things, like seeing your friends or having your family over for dinner. 

So what got you into financial coaching?

It was through work. I’d never heard of coaching before, but I was offered it just as we were about to buy our first property, so it worked out really well. I thought it would be only prescriptive tips and tricks, but actually it was so much more tailored than that. It got me to think about things from a completely different perspective, which I didn’t expect at all. I didn’t realise there would be so many options and different ways of achieving my goals. For instance, we were considering increasing our mortgage payments, but my coach showed us we might actually be better off putting that extra money towards something else, like an interest account. It helps to have someone put everything in context of your long term goals.

Were there any goals you were working towards specifically?

Buying the house. Then also thinking about planning for the future. My coach made a spreadsheet for me to work out what changes to my circumstances would mean for my income, what my expenses would look like and so on. 

What’s the relationship with your coach like?

Very relaxed. I feel really comfortable talking about everything. I don’t ever feel judged – it’s always completely impartial and neutral advice. You don’t have to share anything you’re not comfortable with which makes the process feel really natural – like you’re just having a chat. My coach also gives me a monthly update on anything relevant she’s seen. Articles on saving for retirement, the best interest rates with different accounts or new budget planners. 

What’s the biggest thing you’ve taken from coaching?

That your options aren’t always black and white. For instance, we were thinking of making our next step on the property ladder and my coach talked us through the different options. Moving in five years, eight years or staying put and doing a loft conversion. It’s so interesting to see how those different scenarios have such different impacts! Staying here for longer means we’d have a much bigger deposit to take onto our next house, than if we moved sooner. It’s amazing how interactive the coaching is, it can be tailored so it’s completely bespoke to your circumstances. 

And finally, who would you recommend financial coaching to?

I think anyone who is coming up to big changes in their life. Starting a family or buying a house. It’s for anyone looking for guidance on how to achieve your particular goals, whether they’re short or long term! 

We provide dedicated financial coaching to help you achieve all your goals and improve your overall well being. Want to find out more? Book your first session here.

Natasha, a business relationship manager for local government, has been working with a money coach for nearly two years. With a big love for movies and a daughter who’s wild about performing arts, Natasha told us about her dreams of a gorgeous garden and her journey to taking control of her finances.

Hi Natasha! So much has happened in the past year. How would you describe this time in your life?

This year’s been an epiphany– that’s the best way I can describe it.  A bit of an awakening.

Wow, that sounds amazing. Tell me more. 

Well, I’ve been coached, set some amazing boundaries in my life and spent a lot of time with my daughter. I’ve even got into meditation. 

Let’s talk about financial coaching. Can you see the impact of the changes you’ve made with your coach? 

Absolutely, because I literally do something every month to change the direction in which I’m going. We’ve been chipping away at my bills – looking at my phone bill, streaming services, condensing everything I’m paying to as little as possible, while still having everything for both me and my daughter. Now, not only do I have an end date for the student loan I’ve been paying off for the past 20 years – my disposable income is just so much more.

What does it mean to you that your daughter can see you educating yourself and taking control of your money?

It’s really important and I’m very open about it. To be honest, she’s in on it as well! She wants a new phone, so she’s been selling stuff on Facebook Marketplace. I’m showing her what it takes to get what you need and want but most importantly – how to save. 

Are there any special goals you’re saving towards?

Yes! Saving for my daughter if she wants to go to university and buying a house…with a garden. Having somewhere I can decorate myself and put my own stamp on, so I can be the one inviting people over for barbecues. 

The reality is many live month to month – what does it feel like to be able to plan ahead?

You know what? It’s so freeing. It’s been a gradual process of getting to this point where I’m massively in control of my money. Because when I started off I wasn’t and it was controlling me, but now money doesn’t lead me, I lead it. 

What role did coaching play in your ‘year of epiphanies’ and taking control?

It’s raised awareness and helped me rethink my options. For instance, my coach and I spoke a lot about emergency savings, and through the pandemic I was at risk of losing my job, twice. It really was a massive insight, something that hadn’t occurred to me before. But doing this assessment, having somebody to talk about it with was so important. Now I have a plan. 

Natasha on Money Coaching

So before having a coach, where would you have gone for advice like this?

Um…I would have had to try and figure it out myself, probably by Googling it. 

Do you think there’s a difference between Googling and coaching?

There’s a massive difference between going and finding out stuff yourself and actually being told by a professional. You know when you’ve got a pain or ache? So you Google it, and Dr. Google tells you what’s wrong? But actually what you really want is a real doctor to tell you what’s wrong with you.

What were your thoughts on money coaching before? 

It’s only whilst I’ve been doing it that I realised it’s coaching. And it’s been a form of uncovering things I didn’t necessarily know I needed to uncover – It’s been a bit of a journey.

Was it different from any other financial services you’ve been in touch with?

Yeah, my coach hasn’t been trying to sell me any products, he’s just been recommending things. I don’t like that hard selling tactic. You know I wasn’t suddenly given a list of people to go to for my will. It has purely been about coaching me as an individual, it feels like a product and a service solely for my own financial gain.

And how did you get on with your coach?

It’s been really good, almost like a coach friend. We have regular meetings on a monthly basis, and he hasn’t given me homework, just things to keep in mind – and it’s helped me be more conscious of my spending. It’s like a friend that says “Oh, that might not be a good idea.” It’s the kind of challenge and conversation you want. You can’t really have these open and frank chats with every single individual account that you hold, so to have that one person to bounce ideas off of is really helpful. 

What advice would you give someone who doesn’t feel comfortable talking about money?

Rip the plaster off – if you don’t open yourself up to coaching, you don’t get to see the opportunities that are out there. And that it’s never too late. I spent a good part of my life feeling the effects of the stigma of being a single parent and not having enough money. But actually, now, we have more than enough – I’ve got choices now. 

One sunny morning, on the outskirts of Epsom, we caught up with Ali and learned all about her journey to becoming an Octopus MoneyCoach. Previously in the photography business, Ali retrained as a transformational life coach five years ago. She lives with her husband and two kids.

Hi Ali! We’ll start with the most important question of all – if you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be?

I think it would have to be one of the biggest, best life coaches out there – those ones who get up on stage. Someone like Mel Robbins. I’d love to do a TED talk.

What would your superpower be? 

Teleportation. I love travelling, so I’d explore the world, see things and rob banks. (Just kidding!) Like that film Jumper.

And what would you take to a desert island?

My Kindle. 

That makes sense … your house is filled with books! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Of course. I got married when I was 24 and moved to New Zealand for three or four years – my husband’s a Kiwi. Work brought us back and we now live in Epsom with our two children. I used to run a photography business, but stumbled across some self help books one day and my entire world changed. I realised that that was what I really wanted to do, to help people. So then I studied transformational life coaching at a centre in London and I’ve been doing it ever since! 

From life coaching to financial coaching – how did you make the leap?

Over lockdown I started looking at my own family’s finances. I really started focusing on it, learning how to invest, what we need to save to retire, if we’re on the best bill rates and so on. I was going through the whole process when my sister sent me an article about Octopus MoneyCoach. I wanted to help people like me, who didn’t have a massive lump sum of cash. You know, the small business owners and the people who are trying their best but just might not have all the information. 

What was your opinion of financial coaching before you started training?

I’d never even heard of it! You know about business coaching and life coaching, but financial coaching was new to me. I’d always assumed you could only get support from a very expensive financial advisor. 

Octopus MoneyCoach

Are there any experiences with clients that stand out so far?

One client I had, had quite a lot of debt. She really wanted to start saving, but we discussed her different options and she ultimately decided it would be more effective to pay off bigger chunks with less interest, and start saving a little later down the line. It was a small detail, but a massive turning point for her feeling in control of her debt.

What do you think the role of a good financial coach is?

I love to help people try and create good habits. Changing small things can make a massive difference. Even just being aware of your current financial habits is so powerful. I think people are afraid of coaching because they think they’ll have to completely overhaul their lifestyle. Not have any fun and save every penny of their money. But actually it’s just small bits here and there. Over time, compound interest has such a big impact. 

As a society, why do you think we find it so awkward to talk about money?

It’s just one of those taboo topics isn’t it, along with sex and death. You don’t really grow up talking about it and it isn’t taught at school. It’s very interesting because I’m also a Scouts leader and they’ve just introduced a new money badge – teaching the kids all about finances and how to save. It’s so important to start talking about these things at a young age. We should all try and make it an open conversation, get rid of those stiff upper lips! 

What do you personally like most about coaching?

Being your own boss. I think balance is the most important thing. I always wanted something I could fit around my family, because for me, that’s my number one priority. You’re in complete control of your hours, your time, your money. I think that’s super powerful. 

What’s the best piece of money advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t spend what you earn and then save, save what you need and then spend. 

And what advice would you give to your younger self?

That money matters. I was always looked after by my parents, so I grew up never really looking at money intensely enough. It meant I had no respect for it, so I never really earned what I wanted because I thought it didn’t really matter. Now, I know you can have a massive impact on your kids’ future and your retirement, if you take care of it. 

At Octopus MoneyCoach, our friendly financial coaches help people all over the country make the most of their money. Every month, another group of future coaches joins our training programme.

Curious about whether becoming a money coach could be right for you? Take our quiz and find out!