Financial Consultation Services with Liz Thames

Hello! Your friend/family member/next door neighbor’s cousin’s dog walker thinks you might be interested in my financial consultation services. Thank you for listening to them, they are clearly a very intelligent and all-around excellent person. If you’d like to sign-up for a consultation session, go here.

Money is terrifying for a lot of people and many of us don’t know where to start. That’s where I come in. I demystify personal finance and break it down into manageable steps. I explain where to start and where to go. I am anti-jargon and anti-judgment. 

Here’s who I am:

My name is Liz Thames, although I’m better known as Liz Frugalwoods. I’m the creator of the award-winning personal finance blog, Frugalwoods.com and author of the book, Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living (published by HarperCollins in 2018). I’ve been featured on The Today Show, PBS, NPR, in the New York Times, Forbes, Parents Magazine, and more. Prior to following my calling as a financial writer and consultant, I worked for ten years in the non-profit sector as a fundraiser and communications manager. I received a BA from the University of Kansas and an MA from American University. I live on a 66-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with my husband and our two young daughters. You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Here’s what I do:

I offer financial consultation sessions to folks looking for help with their personal finances.

I can help you with pretty much any question you have about your money, including:

  • Understanding your full financial picture, your asset allocation (fancy term for “how you use your money”), and how you should structure your financial goals for the future.
  • Budgeting.
  • Debt repayment strategies and how to balance that with savings and investment goals.
  • How to save more money every month (even with pets! or kids! or pets AND kids!).
  • Career changes/going back to school/re-locating/relationship challenges/life after divorce.
  • Coping with expensive family obligations/expectations.
  • How to align your spending with your short and long-term goals.
  • Saving for retirement (both early and traditional).
  • How to balance raising a family while staying focused on your own career aspirations and retirement plans.
  • Creative solutions to managing your time.
  • Figuring out where your passions and your ability to earn an income line up.
  • Ideas for increasing your income.
  • Pursuing FIRE (financial independence, retire early).
  • Renting vs. buying a home.
  • …. other stuff too!

Here’s what I don’t offer consultation on:

  • Detailed business accounting practices
  • Complex tax-advantaged early retirement strategies (beyond the norm)
  • In-depth travel hacking
  • Crypto, dividend investing, or any other unusual investing avenue
  • Real estate investing (beyond the basics)

Can I See Some Examples of Your Work?

Absolutely! I have a series on my blog, The Reader Case Studies, which contain examples of the type of advice I offer as well as my style. To get a sense of how I work, check out the below:

“I cannot say enough how useful it is to have a big picture thinker like Liz take a look at my financial picture and make sense of it from her perspective. Thanks to Liz, I’m on track to ramp up my retirement savings and investments. I knew I could trust her to provide positive encouragement and honest feedback on my financial situation.” ~Jana

“Having Liz’s thoughtful attention and nonjudgmental and encouraging advice gave me the courage and confidence to consider options I would not have otherwise. I felt stronger as a woman, more empowered from the process, and in a place financially and emotionally to welcome a partner and a whole new adventure in this phase of life.” ~Lucy

“The thoughtful feedback and exterior ‘unbiased’ perspective on our unique situation was by far my favorite part of the experience and really opened our eyes to a lot of angles we had been overlooking… From the bottom of our hearts, we can’t express our gratitude. Our lives will never be quite the same and that’s such a wonderful feeling!” ~Jack & Elizabeth

Here Are My Rates:

$250: One-hour phone/video call

This is a not a full financial consultation; it’s a conversation. You won’t fill out any worksheets, I won’t write a financial plan for you, you won’t submit information to me ahead of time and I won’t send you anything after our call.

This is designed for folks who want to:

  • Generally discuss their finances with the knowledge that I cannot provide specific financial advice within the confines of an hourlong call.
  • Ask questions related to my other areas of expertise, including: how to start a blog, how to write a book, rural living, parenting, homesteading, etc.

Here’s the process:

  • Go here to schedule a call with me.

Here’s what you’ll receive:

  • One hour of my undivided attention via phone or video, whichever you prefer.

$1,500: Basic Financial Consultation (you do the paperwork):

In this tier you’ll receive a complete financial consultation resulting in a written financial plan and a 90 minute phone/video call with me. You’ll be responsible for collecting your own data and filling out several worksheets detailing your full financial picture.

Here’s the process:

  • My August sunflowers!

    Go here to sign-up.

  • You’ll book your 90 minute call now, although it’ll be about a month in the future since you need time to…
  • …fill out the worksheets I send you (and I need time to research and write your plan!)
  • You’ll complete the worksheets and email them back to me.
  • I’ll email you your complete financial plan.
  • We’ll have a phone/video call to review and discuss your financial plan.
  • You will go forth and confidently manage your money!

Here’s what you’ll receive:

  • Full Financial Plan: You’ll receive a written financial plan similar to what you see in the “Liz Frugalwoods’ Recommendations” section of my on-the-blog Reader Case Studies.
    • My analysis will include in-depth feedback and advice about your entire financial picture, your short and long term goals, where you want to be in 10 years (regarding your career, lifestyle, finances), as well as answers to your specific questions.
    • I’ll conclude with a summary of concrete next steps for you to take.
  • 90 minute Phone Consultation Session: A week or so after you receive my written analysis, we’ll have a 90 minute call via video or audio (whichever you’re most comfortable with).
    • We’ll address your questions about my recommendations and chat more generally about where you’re headed financially and what future steps you can take. It’ll be your chance to ask me any and every question you can think of!
    • We’ll work collaboratively during this call to ensure you’re comfortable with your immediate next steps as well as your future goals.

$3,000: Premium Financial Consultation (I do the paperwork for you):

In this tier, we’ll have four phone/video calls and I will help you gather all of your data and financial information. This is for folks who know they need to get a better handle on their money, but feel overwhelmed at the prospect of filling out spreadsheets and documents detailing every aspect of their finances.

Here’s the process:

  • Fall at my house

    Go here to sign-up.

  • You’ll schedule your first call now. We’ll schedule our other three calls based on the date of our first meeting.
  • I’ll take care of all the paperwork for you.
  • After our second call, you’ll receive your written financial plan and we’ll have a third call to review/discuss.
  • We’ll have a check-in call three months after you receive your full financial plan.
  • You will go forth and confidently manage your money!

Here’s what you’ll receive:

  • Full Financial Plan: You’ll receive a written financial plan similar to what you see in the “Liz Frugalwoods’ Recommendations” section of my on-the-blog Reader Case Studies.
    • My analysis will include in-depth feedback and advice about your entire financial picture, your short and long term goals, where you want to be in 10 years (regarding your career, lifestyle, finances), as well as answers to your specific questions.
    • I’ll conclude with a summary of concrete next steps for you to take.
  • Four Phone Consultation Sessions to guide you through the process of collecting your financial information:
    1. In our first meeting, we’ll discuss your goals, what you hope to get from our sessions, why you’re seeking advice now, your lifestyle, how you like to spend your time, what you view as your financial strengths and weaknesses, and more.
    2. Our second meeting is a financial deep dive. I’ll create a workbook of everything in your life related to money.
    3. During our third meeting, we’ll review your full financial plan and address questions you have about my recommendations. We’ll discuss where you’re headed financially and what future steps you can take.
    4. Our fourth conversation, which takes place three months later, is a check-in on how you’re feeling about implementing the action items outlined in your financial plan. We’ll work collaboratively to ensure you’re comfortable with your immediate next financial steps as well as your future goals.

How To Register For A Financial Consultation:

  • Go here to register and schedule with me.
  • Since I invest a great deal of time and research into every consultation, I only offer a limited number each month.
  • I do my best to accommodate everyone who applies.

I Offer Holistic Money Coaching

Our financial lives are not separate from any other part of our lives. How we use our money is inextricably linked to our options and ultimately, dictates the type of life we’ll lead. I don’t believe in looking solely at someone’s expenses or income or assets in order to offer financial advice. Instead, I believe in looking at the holistic picture a person paints of their life, where they want to be in the future, what stresses them out, what brings them joy and how money plays a role in all of that.

Money is terrifying for a lot of people and many of us don’t know where to start. We have a sinking feeling that we should be doing SOMETHING about our savings, our debt, our investments and 401ks (wait, what are those again?!?), and we break into a cold sweat. In this panicked state, we shakily scroll over to our bank account–realize it’s worse than we thought–close the tab and resolve to do something (but what?!) about it tomorrow. Or maybe next week. Or… next year.

Ignorance is never the bliss we think it’ll be and ignoring your money only makes problems worse. This is where I come in. I demystify personal finance and break it down into manageable steps. I explain where to start and where to go in a straightforward way. I am anti-jargon and anti-judgment. 

I talk about money the way I talk about everything else in life because that’s all money is: one more thing in our lives that we need to manage, but that doesn’t have to be frightening, guilt-inducing, shameful or complicated.

Testimonials

From Jana of Reader Case Study: Inside A Financial Circus (No, Really, The Finances Of An Actual Circus!):

I’m deeply grateful for my experience as a reader case study subject for Mrs. Frugalwoods. With her advice, I’ve managed to up my savings, increase my income, and decrease my spending. I appreciate all the encouragement and the kick in the butt I needed to make some serious changes in my life.

I love how Liz was able to take in my situation and help me prioritize my goals. I cannot say enough how useful it is to have a big picture thinker like Mrs. Frugalwoods take a look at my financial picture and make sense of it from her perspective.

Thanks to Liz, I’m on track to ramp up my retirement savings and investments. I knew I could trust her to provide positive encouragement and honest feedback on my financial situation.

Our experience as reader case study subjects was invaluable and her encouraging words kept us motivated to make some simple changes in order to make progress towards our goals.

From Lucy of Reader Case Study: At Age 57, It’s Not Over Yet!:

When I requested doing a case study with Ms. Frugalwoods I was 57, divorced for ten years, an empty nester with questions about what to do next with my life and career and finances. I wanted to be in a long term mutually supportive and happy relationship but online dating had not proved fruitful. The process of participating in the Case Study–outlining my goals for finances, career and lifestyle, assembling the financial information and submitting it for Ms. Frugalwoods’ analysis and recommendations–was illuminating and rewarding. Honestly just sitting down and truly considering what my goals were, what I value and what needed to happen to make progress was valuable in itself.

Shortly after submitting my case study information in 2017, I met a wonderful widower online! We are engaged to be married this June. The case study gave me the confidence that I could live within my means and achieve my goals with certain changes…

I am more fiscally attentive to the everyday expenses of life (I’ve had to be) and the increased confidence I developed through the process of doing the case study has allowed me to ask for things like biweekly conversations about finances and goals (romantic eh?!).  I would not have had this confidence otherwise

For me the main benefits of the Case Study have been to clarify my life goals and to discover more options than I had imagined and finally, to give me the confidence that living frugally and within my means is something I can be proud of (in a quiet, nonjudgmental way of course!).

I regularly read Mrs. Frugalwoods and her positive approach to people and their financial dilemmas, as well as her honesty and humor, distinguish her from other bloggers. Opening up about one’s finances and dreams and goals is a vulnerable process and more than once when I was working on my case study I thought about backing out. It felt too risky. I am so happy that I didn’t.

Having Mrs. Frugalwoods’ thoughtful attention and nonjudgmental and encouraging advice gave me the courage and confidence to consider options I would not have otherwise. I felt stronger as a woman, more empowered from the process, and in a place financially and emotionally to welcome a partner and a whole new adventure in this phase of life. Turns out it wasn’t too late, in fact it’s the beginning of a whole new chapter.

From Lauren of Reader Case Study: Single Psychologist Saving In NYC:

I read Ms. Frugalwoods’ case studies each month religiously and was thrilled to be featured as one. The opportunity to get advice from someone who eschewed consumerism to create lasting financial security was very exciting, and I was not disappointed. I have many unknowns in my life, leaving me unsure how to best plan for the future.

Perhaps the most important advice I received was to not focus on buying an apartment just yet, as I do not know whether I would be in it for the next 5 years… I didn’t realize I would need to account so much for closing costs and monthly maintenance fees (huge in NY), which make buying impractical unless it is for the long-term.

Ms. Frugalwoods provided invaluable guidance, encouragement, and actionable steps to work toward the future I want. She recognizes that everyone’s situations and values are different, and is never condescending or preachy.

I wish that everyone could become a case study, it would undoubtedly improve their lives!

From Emily of Reader Case Study: The Grad School Dilemma:

My Reader Case Study happened at a pivotal time in my life, as I’m sure it feels for many case study participants! The best thing to come out of my case study was Mrs. Frugalwoods’ confidence that I was on the right track and that my money mindset would open doors for me.
Her assessment of my situation was that I was thinking about my finances and my larger life picture in the best way I could for making sure I had choice over what my future looked like. A lot of this was because I had absorbed so much of her blog and so my financial mindset matched hers in many ways. But her reassurance that I was making good choices and looking at things in a smart way is something I still carry with me.
It almost feels like Mrs. Frugalwoods is in my corner, which strengthens my ability to make the tradeoffs I need to make. I also appreciated Mrs. Frugalwoods’ advice that I don’t need to race to buy a home just for the financial benefits, if I’m not sure I want to be a home-owner. This freed me up to detach home ownership from adulthood, which is certainly healthy in a high cost of living place like DC.

From Florence of Reader Case Study: We Have A Van, Now We Need A Plan!:

Our reader case study was super helpful in opening our eyes to the possibilities to work with what we already have, and helping us see the pros and cons to packing it all up and leaving for a year to travel. Right after our case study, we were able to use tips and ideas from the study itself (such as using our van for our weekend trips and mostly camping for fun, to avoid spending money on trips!) to continue to save and even save some more than we were before.

It gave us renewed vigor for our savings plans and helped us keep the goal in sight.

…the tips and advice from the Case Study have helped us to frame questions about our financial future in a way where we can look at the bigger picture, and always keep saving and examining if we are spending money on what we truly value in the forefront.

I think the case studies go beyond just helping you figure out what you want to do at a particular juncture in life, but give you the tools you need to face financial decisions together while keeping your values in mind.

From Sam of Reader Case Study: Debt And Dreams In Queensland, Australia:

First I would just like to say how difficult it was to swallow our pride, and reach out to the Frugalwoods community for advice, especially when all of our friends live the same way we do, attempting to choose a contrary lifestyle was pretty scary.

We consolidated our debts onto a 0% interest credit card for 16 months, cut up the card, set up a direct debit plan and cut our living expenses back to the bare essentials. We recently put a tax return straight on that credit card, and I am so proud to say that we are now debt free for the first time in our adult lives!!!!!!! As an added bonus, when we spoke to friends about not wanting to go out and spend money on entertaining, they were so relieved as they too had been feeling the financial pressure.

Amazingly, our social life is better than it has ever been and costs about $10 a week on average. We are now setting up to invest the extra money we aren’t using to pay off debt, to make extra payments into our superannuation accounts for retirement, and also our new goal is to have 6 months worth of income in the bank. We have cancelled the credit card as it is too much of a temptation to use.

Thank you so much! Your fabulous and fantastic Frugalwoods group has completely changed our lives, we are so much happier, and we have so much more enjoyable quality time as a family together, without spending. The stress of being in debt is now non-existent in our lives. Just had our first debt free Christmas in forever and doing that Case Study literally changed our lives so I hope it can do the same for others.

From Payton of Reader Case Study: Should We Buy A Campground And Laundromat?:

Doing a case study was a great way to get us thinking differently about our money, in all aspects. We didn’t ask about our retirement accounts (as we thought we were doing fine) but were given advice that made us realize we should really take time to evaluate that area of our finances. We have researched this subject a ton since and took control of these accounts instead of staying on autopilot. We also made a huge increase from the bare minimum contributing percentage. We are so thankful for doing the case study and how it opened our eyes to our own life!

From Jack & Elizabeth of Reader Case Study: Can We Buy Our Dream Home?:

Working with Mrs. Frugalwoods was such a sweet and enlightening experience… The thoughtful feedback and exterior “unbiased” perspective on our unique situation was by far my favorite part of the experience and really opened our eyes to a lot of angles we had been overlooking. Our lives have certainly been streamlined and optimized through this whole experience. It feels quite wonderful, looking back over the last two years since we first reached out, to see how our outlooks and decisions continue to be influenced by all the deep thought and recommendations offered up by Mrs. F and her commenters.

Through all of this thoughtful feedback and array of wonderful recommendations, we’ve been able to completely overhaul our lives (not just finances) and become better siblings, daughters/sons, (now Aunt & Uncle!), friends, and community members because of the team environment Mrs. Frugalwoods generated.

She helped us avoid buying too much house, optimize our spending and cashflow, and ultimately save over $36,000 in various investment accounts. This money would have otherwise gone into additional mortgage payments as was our original plan when we first wrote Mrs. F. In addition to that, the added flexibility of less mortgage commitment has allowed us to continue exploring the US via road trips and taking part in other family getaways. It really has been a game changer and we are so very thankful for the help.

We would absolutely recommend this experience to others! I can’t believe we were lucky enough to be a part of her case study series. The Safe Space Mrs. F. created for us to share these very intimate thoughts, questions and numbers (with the internet of all places) was very well curated and cared for.

The amount of impact you and your FW community have had on our two lives has gone on to influence, change and otherwise benefit dozens – if not hundreds – of lives across our community as we continue to grow businesses and help local startups / nonprofits thrive in our little hometown. That is an intangible luxury we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for you helping us see things from a different angle. It’s a better place for us to be than sitting on a hill in a fancy house dreading the postman delivering bigger bills.

That’s a really longwinded thank you, but I felt like you definitely deserved it. From the bottom of our hearts, we can’t express our gratitude. Our lives will never be quite the same and that’s such a wonderful feeling!

Do You Offer Anything For Free?

Yes indeed! If you’re not ready to hire me yet, check out some of my free offerings:

  1. My 690 Frugalwoods articles (as of 9/14/22).
  2. My ongoing on-the-blog Reader Case Study series. There’ve been 85 Case Studies to date and there’s no end in sight.
  3. My 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge.
  4. My book (which is free if you check it out from your local library).

Feel free to email me with questions (liz@frugalwoods.com) or sign-up here to get on my calendar.

I look forward to working with you!

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