16. BOUNDARIES WITH BUDGETS, CLIENTS, AND CALENDARS
Mary: We are here with Penny Kidd and Let’s Talk Boundaries. Hey Penny. Thanks for coming.
Penny: Thanks, Mary. I’m excited to get to visit with you.
Mary: Awesome. Tell us a little bit about you.
Penny: Yeah. My name is Penny Kidd. I have a business called Penny Wise Coaching. I am a financial coach. I’m an old social worker by trade. I’ve spent about 30 years in social work, which is how I very first met you in our past lives and yeah. I’m married and have two grown kids.
Mary: Awesome. I know our past lives, we did social work together back in the child protection trenches, man.
Penny: Yeah, it was like a long time ago.
Mary: Yeah, for sure. Well, did you happen just to have the name Penny that created this Penny Wise branding and financial coaching?
Penny: Believe it or not, that’s my real name. And I just had to be almost 50 before I did anything with my name. So every now and then people will ask me if Penny’s my real name or if I changed my name to match my business. I’m like, hmm, no. It was the other way around? It just happened that I was into helping people get smart with their money, and it seemed convenient that my name was already Penny.
Mary: So I wonder if your parents knew. Maybe, maybe they knew when you were going to be born that you were gonna be into financial coaching?
Penny: I don’t know. It was divine providence. I guess.
Mary: Maybe, we’ll see. All right. Well, let’s talk a little bit about boundaries. How does boundaries show up in your work?
Penny: Well, obviously boundaries for my clients is kind of learning to have boundaries around money and setting kind of parameters around how and what you spend money on. What your values are and what you want to spend your money on. I think sometimes people think when working with a financial coach that I’m gonna come in there and tell them how to spend their money, and that’s not my job. That’s not my money. I don’t spend their money. I have to set my own boundaries around my money, right? So it definitely intersects with my time and what I do as a coach with my clients and how much I take on versus they need to take on. And the time I spend with them as well as like, what’s their responsibility to do and what’s my responsibility? So that’s probably one of my bigger challenges.
Mary: Awesome, awesome. So when people come to you for financial coaching, do they struggle having boundaries with budgets or other parts of their lives, or tell me what you see.
Penny: Typically they come because they don’t know how to budget, and they oftentimes have a lot of debt that they’re carrying. I have seen and kind of changed who I work with over the years from working in social work with so many people in poverty and feeling like, oh, well, you know, they don’t make enough and that’s why they’re struggling with money. But now what I’m seeing is that people that make a lot of money, but they still have the stress around money and they oftentimes carry a lot of debt. The ones who are coming to me anyway. They don’t have to have debt to work with a financial coach. They might wanna just do better at it and be a little more intentional with directing it and keeping more of it. But I definitely feel like most people that kind of hit that crisis point and that want help are coming because they’re so stressed out because they make a lot of money and why do we have this much debt? This doesn’t make sense. And it’s not your typical quote unquote, good debt. It is you know, credit card debt and card debt and stuff like that. They can’t see why they would have that. And what I really believe in, having worked so long with people around behavior change is that it’s about behavior, it’s not about math. It’s not really about how much you make, it’s about how much you keep of what you make. And being mindful about where you’re gonna spend the money and what your goals are with your money.
Mary: Nice. I love it. So is debt a symptom of someone not having good boundaries with their money?
Penny: Hmm. Yes. I would say that probably is true and that’s how it manifests because it’s either I want to give to everybody, but they don’t really think about the impact of how much they’re giving, whether it’s to their kids or their parents or their, you know, school, whatever. So, and kind of getting caught up in the, I don’t know, social media and marketing trends of our society now and how easy it is to get credit and buy the things that we think make us happy and that keep us up with everybody else. The Joneses that are spending, and unfortunately the Joneses are probably broke, so yeah, I think it is a symptom of not really having boundaries and not wanting to slow down and look at it. It’s uncomfortable.
Mary: Yep. Yeah, and I would agree. I mean, I think that I have seen people who struggle with boundaries often also struggle with debt. Like it’s one aspect of how boundary issues can show up in your life.
Penny: I’m guessing people don’t think of it that way, you know? It’s like I just, I needed to do that. I needed to have that, or my kid has to go to that activity because it’s hard sometimes to say, you know, my friends or family are not in charge of what I do with my money. And it could be going on a trip together or exchanging holiday gifts. And having a boundary around that can cause tension.
Mary: Yes. And if we have healthy boundaries, right? And we are clear about like; I get to decide how I spend my resources. Right? My money, my time, my resources, and you get to decide how you spend your time and money and resources, and I can still have love for you and for myself. Right? That skill set of boundaries, I think would help people to make better choices about, you know, excessive spending.
Penny: Yeah. It’s so easy to get caught up in the, I don’t even know, sometimes if the expectations are said or if they’re in our own heads. You know, I, it’s not usually a, a spoken about decision but it’s whatever’s going on in our own, old mind.
Mary: Right. Yeah. Well, tell me a little bit about boundaries for you and how boundaries show up in your business with your clients?
Penny: Or lack thereof?
Mary: Or lack thereof. That’s the good stuff I wanna hear about.
Penny: I struggle with boundaries because I think I have such a tender heart and I have that caregiver mentality and lifestyle that I tend to give to everybody else before I give to myself. And that includes time and attention. And you know, it sometimes it feels like that old saying of the cobblers kids have no shoes. You know, I can work on your finances and your time and your needs all day long. But I don’t necessarily, am not very good about blocking out time to work on my own. And so consequently, mine happens late at night or I get behind on my own or, you know, I probably work too many hours because even though I might have an appointment scheduled for an hour with somebody, if I don’t have something right on the heels of it, they get whatever time they need for us to get through that particular issue or chunk, whatever we’re working on, right? And as I get busier in my practice, that gets harder and harder to do, which then leaks into, you know, evenings and weekends. So I struggle with time boundaries. I think as much as anything about wanting, I want so much for them to make good progress and in a fairly quick timeframe that, and oftentimes, I feel like it’s, it’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s sort of the secret sauce of how I work, is that I’m gonna give more than they’re ever gonna think they got, you know? But I also sometimes forget that I need to just back off and let ’em fail a little bit instead of doing it with them or some of my clients, I’ve done some of the budgeting, you know, bank accounting kind of stuff for them and yet I feel like I’m creating that enabled monster. Mm. I do that.
Mary: Enabling monster. That sounds not so fun. So let’s talk about, all right, what are you willing to do and what are you not willing to do? I’m gonna do a little t chart for you. So Penny is willing, and Penny is not willing. And from a place of love, when you’re not enabling, when you’re kind of in alignment with your values and your worth, what are you willing to do and not willing to do?
Penny: I’m willing to teach everything I know about how to budget and make their money behave and, you know, impart any amount of knowledge I have. I’m willing to meet with my clients a minimum of two times a month.
Mary: Is there a maximum?
Penny: That is the gray area for me. I would say the max would be four. Kind of depends on where they’re at in the process because I do feel like there’s a lot to learn early on. And so, and maybe that’s just a structure thing I need to change. But to get them up and running really within a few pay cycles I like to have them, you know, pretty solid footing that first month, which might take a little more time than just two hours a month.
Mary: Okay. So meet two to four times a month?
Mary: Okay. You can do that with love? That feels good?
Mary: Okay. What else?
Penny: I’m willing to be contacted by text, in between appointments.
Mary: Email or just text?
Penny: Email is fine, but I just, the reality of me getting to email is not as good. So I usually tell them that text is faster, but email’s fine for longer things. And or phone calls, I really don’t even mind jumping on and having some phone calls. I feel like sometimes they get caught up in what I’ve heard other businesses or other coaches, what their boundaries are about… oh no, they have to, they can only meet with me at this time. To me, it feels like I would rather be there if there’s a crisis going on for a few minutes here and there, or if they have a question or something’s not working with our budget sheet than wait two weeks to see them again. I really have not had people abuse that. I feel like it’s a perk of working with me, that that’s sort of my style. I also wonder if that contributes to maybe not having as good of boundaries, you know? So I don’t, I can’t fully decide whether that’s something I should change, but right now I’m willing to do that.
Mary: Okay. Well, there’s no right or wrong. You get to decide, right? It’s your business, it’s your relationship with the client. So I don’t know that anybody else gets to decide or tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, but what are some of the boundaries you said you don’t have that maybe you would want to have? Like what do you think you are not willing to do or you’re not able to do with kindness and love? Like when are you feeling maybe taken advantage of?
Penny: When I’m doing more of the work on It’s really sort, it’s the budgeting slash tracking of their money. If I have to go in or choose to go in, or they are leaning on me telling them what they have spent already, where that should be their homework and that should be the piece they’re doing.
Mary: So is it that you’re working harder than they are?
Penny: Yeah, sometimes. I think that’s kind of what it feels like.
Mary: Because that doesn’t feel good for any service provider to be working harder than they are. Right? I remember even when we were social workers. That’s something that we talked about, right? Like when do you know when to close the case? When you’re working harder than they are.
Penny: And I think that’s hard when you’re being paid to, to serve somebody and they’re still willing to pay you. And sometimes you feel like, yeah, but you’re not making progress. So when do you cut them loose?
Mary: You get to decide. I mean, that’s completely up to your values, your integrity, your agency there.
So working harder than they are… and what did you say? Doing their homework for them?
Penny: Yeah. Kind of. Yeah.
Mary: That doesn’t feel good to you?
Penny: Yeah. Where the money went. It’s really not what a coach should be doing.
Mary: Hmm. Tell me more about that. What specifically feels like it is what a coach does?
Penny: Well, I think what I should be doing and what I do when I’m doing it well is having the conversation, asking the questions. I think I’ve gotten caught up somehow in the, okay, let’s just get it done because you’re not getting it done. So during our session, we’ll do this together because they’re not finding the time or making the time in between sessions to get done. So that what I am doing is being the educator and the guide and the accountability buddy. But I’ve somehow slipped into, with some of them and not all for sure, but with a handful of clients where I have slipped into like, almost more of the bookkeeper role. And I think I’m to the point like, yeah, I’m, I’m not willing to do that anymore. Okay.
Mary: So no bookkeeping? What else?
Penny: I can’t think of anything else.
Mary: Boundaries you’d like to have in your business?
Penny: I would like to have, and I feel like this is always a struggle and, and I know you have some tools around that, so you could probably help me with scheduling boundaries a little better.
Mary: So what’s currently going on?
Penny: So for a while I had good time blocked schedule with people where, you know, maybe they met the second Monday of the month at 10 o’clock or whatever, and so I would get them blocked in and in general, I guess I have been very lenient about letting people change their appointments, cancel, you know, and at some level I didn’t care because I was like, it doesn’t matter to me if I have that time open, whether I’m seeing somebody or if I’m doing my other, you know, catch up work. So if the time was open and they could find the new time, that was okay. But the busier I get, the harder that gets. And then when people cancel and then they’re not getting maybe the value out of it that they should, then it feels yucky for me. So I feel like that time scheduling thing could be shored up for me and also to have fewer evening appointments probably.
Mary: Hmm. What are your working hours?
Penny: Pretty much between eight and six, Monday through Friday. I try not to go till six every night of the week, but in a couple nights I’ve flexed until seven. So if I needed somebody that didn’t, you know, start until 5: 30. It’s hard with people being in different parts of the country and it seems like late afternoon, early evening is the coveted time slot because people wanna do it after they get off work or at the end of their day basically. And that’s, that’s probably one of my biggest boundaries struggles, is to not be so accommodating that my own life gets lost.
Mary: Yes. So what do you want your working hours to be?
Penny: I think I would like them to be… this is so hard for me for some reason. So nine, nine to five would be ideal. Okay. Just don’t know how realistic that is.
Mary: Okay. If it was nine to five every day, no exceptions?
Penny: No, and that’s where I struggle, is that I don’t mind doing some eight o’clocks, and I don’t mind doing like one night a week up until… I really would like to go no later than six. So if I could say, you know, maybe one day starts earlier and one day goes later so that I have some later slots and I have an early 8:00 AM slot. Also with the women’s group that I run, that you and I are a part of that sometimes just getting to know other people and stuff, I tend to do those earlier in the day if I can, because that’s not usually a slot that gets taken. But I struggle with that. Like, is that work? Is that not work? You know, it’s a little gray area for me.
Mary: Sure. I still wasn’t clear. You wanna work when? 8:00 AM to five. Some days?
Penny: Well see why I struggle with this?
Mary: Open to six some days. I know. You just get to decide, so let’s just decide.
Penny: Okay. So I think the part, and maybe this just makes it too complicated, is if I just set a standard time and said, you know, eight to five, like a typical, normal, whatever, workday. I do want to start having non-client days. I’ve been trying to block those in at least once a month, but I would like those to be more frequent. I would like to have either a half day or a whole day of no client appointments.
Mary: Yes, I agree. And I, I do that as well and I can share with you kind of my system for that. But first you need to decide what are your working hours and when do you not work. And then we can take a look at the working hours and, and just decide which ones are face-to-face with clients and which ones are working on your business versus in your business and networking and all the things.
Penny: Okay, so I’m gonna do two days a week of nine to six and three days of nine to five, I mean eight to five.
Mary: Okay. Perfect. Which days do you wanna be? Eight to five. And which days do you wanna be nine to six. For now?
Penny: I’m gonna do Tuesday, Thursday, the nine to six, and the other days will be eight to five.
Mary: Okay. So do you have a calendly or acuity or some scheduling?
Penny: I do, yeah.
Mary: Software that you use? So then your first thing is to go in and write those as your working hours. And which of these hours do you want to be face-to-face, and which ones do you want to be working on business building?
Penny: I mean, I guess at this point, I would probably go look at the clients that have a certain day and then go, okay, well I know that one Tuesday and one Wednesday are pretty blocked out for my other meeting. And so on some kind of opposite week then that would seem to make a good sense to have that be working hours. So if I’m always busy with my meetings Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week, then if I’m typically meeting with people twice a month, it’s like the first and third or the second and fourth week. So what I’ve been intending was to use that other half of that slot for business time.
Mary: Okay, so you would have like one week of coaching and one week of business. And then the next week of coaching and the next week of business?
Penny: Yeah. Probably on a certain day. I don’t know how many days a week to block that. What do you do?
Mary: Okay, what I do is, okay for coaches, I do half and half. Half of my time is spent coaching people. So 20 hours a week I have available for coaching appointments. And then the other half of my time I spend recording podcasts and building my business and do creating content and networking and all the other business building activities, right? So I coach Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from nine to four, Tuesday and Thursday. And Wednesday. I have one night a week that I coach late for those few folks that really have business hours and they want to work with me. So I’m open one night a week late, and then Friday morning I have kind of my, I have a, a few calls on Friday morning as well. So Mondays I only do business building. I don’t do coaching appointments on Mondays. And then I do have some networking appointments that kind of come in the middle of the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
Penny: Part of my challenge has been because of my role as a leader, I have to attend certain meetings that are not my own, right? And so picking you know, I have to be there on that certain Friday or that certain Wednesday at that time has made my calendaring very murky.
Mary: Do they always stay the same?
Mary: Can you just schedule those in as if they were a regular appointment working on your business?
Penny: Mm-hmm. those are working on your business?
Mary: Yeah. Mm-hmm. So I think half and half is a safe balanced way to start, for coaches. Right? If you’re coaching 20 hours a week, that’s a pretty full plate because when you have a coaching business, essentially you have two jobs, right? You have the job of being the coach and then the job of building the business. Right. I like that balance. That’s what works for me. But I think you get to decide, but I would start there and kind of feel it out. How much time do you think you currently spend coaching versus business building?
Penny: It really varies, but probably a little more than half is coaching, is face-to-face hours. Mm-hmm.
I’d have to go look at a calendar and count, but, you know, I always struggle with people say, well, how many clients can you take? I’m like, I don’t know one more than I have, but I think I’m…
Mary: One more than I have. I can always take one more.
Penny: It’s getting to the point where that’s not necessarily true, like, or I’m gonna be working 24 /7, you know, I don’t wanna do that.
Mary: Yeah. Okay. So Monday through Friday, eight to five, Tuesday, Thursday, nine to six. Is there a day on here that you don’t have clients already scheduled?
Penny: No, not Monday through Friday typically. I don’t work Sundays. And I will, I’m pretty protective about Saturdays, but occasionally if I, you know, there’s good reason to need to catch up or whatever, I will do a Saturday morning with some clients. So if I do that, then I try to, protect some other part of my week. Right? I mean that’s the joy of being self-employed is you can flex. I don’t mind if I work an occasional Saturday, I just don’t want to work every Saturday. And so if I don’t have anything else going on and I have that time and I’d rather, you know, have Friday afternoon off or some other thing.
Mary: Yep. Yeah. Okay. So what are you gonna do?
Penny: Set my working hours. I think the problem is I can always override it. So, you know, that’s the problem.
Mary: That’s where the boundary is, right?
Penny: Yeah. Yeah. And they need to, you know, I really wanna look at who do I have standing appointments with and will those dates that I just rattled off the nine to six and the eight to five, really, will that impact them very much? Can they shift and I guess I won’t know till I ask. Sometimes it’s just, they don’t really care, and this is what I’ve got, and so it’s fine. I think that’s the part of boundaries that, that I struggle with is I’m sure a lot of people do, that nobody gets that upset about you holding a boundary as you think they will.
Mary: Hmm. Maybe. Maybe. I mean, I would, guess that, that’s usually true. That kind of, we make it a bigger deal in our heads than it really turns out to be. But that’s not always true. Right? So what is that about? Tell me what that’s about.
Penny: Well, I’m sure it’s the people pleasing part of, of us.
Mary: Yeah, like we wanna have boundaries, but we also want other people to like it.
Penny: Right? Yeah. And not make anybody be put out, and you know, you’re grateful when somebody hires you and wants to work with you, and of course you want to be accommodating to them. But then I can have this rational conversation like with you and with anybody else, I can help them have boundaries. But sometimes when you’re in the thick of it and you cave and you’re just like, you know, the doctor’s office doesn’t really care that I don’t want to leave work early or whatever they say, this is what time we work. And so I think that has been a dangerous, like a slippery slope for me as a business owner, especially when I had a full-time job and was doing this on the side and you’re just like lucky to squeeze it in wherever you can.
Mary: Yes. So I think that is some misconceptions about customer service and customer satisfaction, right? Because as business owners, we want both. Right? Like I want my clients to receive the service. I want them to reach their results, and I want them to hit their client goals, right? And they do. And that’s the part that I have control over, is the service that I provide and the results that the client receives. And then we also want them to like us. We want them to like the service. We want them to feel good about it, right? And we want five star reviews. We want all of the customer service and customer satisfaction, right? Feedback. But do I have control over someone else’s feelings?
Penny: What their results are or what their… yeah.
Mary: It’s like a false sense of, I’m making them feel some way. Right? Like, we don’t have control over someone else’s because what goes into somebody else’s feelings about a service?
Penny: Lots of things we didn’t have anything to do with.
Mary: Right? What kind of day they had, what they think about this, how they feel about that? How they were raised, what their perspective is, right? Yeah. And I love my clients. I have the best clients and we have amazing relationships, and I’m super grateful that I get to coach them. And my integrity tells me this is how I’m gonna show up and serve, and we’re gonna work towards these results, and I can guarantee those results. And I really, really hope that you like it, but I can’t chase customer satisfaction because that’s not my power. I don’t have the power to do that. Does that make sense?
Mary: Because we get mixed up. So working hours Monday, Wednesday, Friday, eight to five, Tuesday, Thursday, nine to six. Right? Are you gonna stick to that?
Penny: Yes. I think that’s helpful actually, because I, I’ve been trying to come up with that, but it’s not been that consistent. And then I think that’s a good starting place for sure. And then the other piece I have to get done and, and starting into a new year is good time to do it as any is, I’ve really been trying to, you know, offer my clients, okay, here’s what I have, and then block them in you know, twice a month or whatever.
Mary: Yes. So how I do it is when I get a new client and they commit to working with me, I have, well, I have a couple different scheduling links, right? So instead of one general scheduling link, I have one that’s specific for one-on-one calls. I have one that’s when our groups are, I have one that is for networking appointments. I have one that’s just for check-in calls, right? So I have a variety of different calendar links. I pull up the one-on-one spot, and I say, these are the days and times I have available and I just list out the days and times I have available. Right? I can see you Tuesdays at nine or three, I can see you Wednesdays at two or four. I can see you, right? Whatever it is. We’ll go ahead and schedule those appointments. Right? And then if we need to change them, then I send them that same calendar link and it’ll tell them which times and days and times are available. So then it’s their responsibility to reschedule on the link.
Penny: Great. And that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing and the calendar link is super helpful, but I think what can get in and muck up my calendar is when somebody reschedules from their appointment or whatever and they see, oh, she’s free tomorrow. And of course my discovery calls can come in at any open slot. So that can be something I’ll spend some time thinking about too. Maybe I only wanna have those on certain days of the week or certain times of the day so that they’re not falling in all over the place.
Mary: Yes. So I have one link that’s all the coaching calls, right? So one-on-one coaching, discovery calls, right? That’s the same link?
Penny: Yeah. Mine is two different calendars for current clients versus new potential discovery call.
Mary: Yes. Yeah. Okay, so here’s what I’ve got for you so far. You are willing to teach all, you know, share your knowledge, meet with clients two to four times a month. Text, email, phone call, communication, have the conversations, ask the questions. Work Monday, Wednesday, Friday from eight to five, Tuesday, Thursday from nine to six. You’re not willing to work harder than they are, do their homework for them or be the bookkeeper. Are you not willing to work past five on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday or past six on Tuesday, Thursday?
Penny: In theory, yes.
Mary: I love this.
Penny: Do I wanna say what I should do or what I will do?
Mary: Okay, what will you do? I don’t use the word should. I never, I don’t, I don’t should on people. What will you do? Like, what is a boundary? You can and will…
Penny: Six, every day. But I’m not gonna schedule appointments until, you know, past five at that point. But it doesn’t mean I won’t be working.
Mary: And that’s okay for you?
Mary: Okay. Yeah. I mean, if you feel good about it, that’s okay. It’s when you can do it from a place of love, then go ahead and do it. But if you can’t, if you start to feel kinda yucky, you start to feel like maybe you’re being taken advantage of, or you start to feel like some resentment, then that’s a clue to you that you probably wanna take a look at it and do something different.
Penny: Yeah, that makes sense.
Mary: Yeah. Okay. Is this helpful to you?
Penny: It’s helpful. I think that was great. I think it’s helpful. It’s always good to kind of re-look at things about, am I doing it from a place of love? I think I sometimes struggle with, sometimes boundaries sounds harsh or like you’re gonna be you know, super rigid and I’m, I just am not wired that way. And, and so I like the idea of is it good for you? Is, are you okay with that? That’s your, you know, that’s your boundary. And so I feel like I am getting better, and probably a lot of it is talking to you over the years and stuff, but thinking about what am I willing to do? What am I willing to say yes to, and what am I saying no to? All those pieces, right? A lot of what I do within my business, when you love your business and you love your people, it’s really easy to kind of do too much, but I think that I have to love me too.
Mary: Yes. Yes. So that question of when we say yes to something, what are we saying no to? And then the opposite of if we say no to this, what are we saying yes to? So if you say no to working late every night, what do you get to say yes to? That could be a really fun question. What might that be?
Penny: I think that’s a whole other podcaster session. Cause I…
Mary: Absolutely. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, penny. Appreciate you.
Penny: You’re so welcome. Thanks for having me.
Mary: All right. We’ll see ya.