March 30, 2020

RCC 84: Empowering Women Through Financial Planning with Debra Melvin

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One statement that I hear often and that you might find familiar is that you can’t charge a certain amount for your products or services because your clients could never afford it. The desire to keep your prices low so that your people can afford it is one that is flawed, and in this episode, I’m showing you why you shouldn’t make assumptions about your current or potential clients’ financial situation.

My guest on the show this week is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Debra Melvin, who specializes in serving divorced women. We had a great conversation about women and money, and she’s here to share her insights on how to stay financially strong, whether in an economic downturn or any other time of the year.

Join us this week as Debra offers us her six best practices that she has her clients implement when making financial decisions. I’m also outlining a set of questions you can ask yourself to shift your mindset around your pricing. You’re in the business of changing lives, and the results you are promising your clients are priceless, so get earning and stop assuming.

If you want to work with me in 2020 to build your dream coaching practice, there is still time! Learn more about my upcoming Pitch Clinic, On the 6 Mastermind, and BARE Coach Training.

Be sure to check out Rise & Soar: The Sisterhood Edition — and learn how to build a new-and-improved sisterhood.  It’s time to soar into your next chapter and it all starts with the people closest to you.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why you can’t make assumptions about your current or potential clients’ financial situation.
  • The typical profile of women that Debra works with.
  • What eagle vision versus mouse vision means.
  • The most common questions Debra helps her clients through and the end goal of the work they do together.
  • What a risk profile means.
  • How Debra is keeping her clients on track while the market is down due to the coronavirus.
  • The three options you have when the market is down.
  • Debra’s 6 steps that she has her clients practice in making financial decisions.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Rich Coach Club, the podcast that teaches you how to build your dream coaching practice and how to significantly increase your income. If you're a coach and you're determined to start making more money, this show is for you. I'm master certified life coach Susan Hyatt, and I'm psyched for you to join me on this journey.

Do you ever think to yourself, “I can’t charge that much. My clients could never afford that. There’s just no way.” Or maybe you notice yourself thinking, “I want to be affordable and accessible for the people who need me so I’m going to keep my rates pretty low.” Or something like, “I don’t think this person has a big budget to hire someone like me, so I’m just going to offer them a reduced price. You know, just to be nice.”

Sound familiar? Well, this episode is especially for you. We’re going to talk about undercharging, what’s an epidemic amongst coaches, and we’re going to talk about how to stop making assumptions about your clients’ financial situation. Because the fact is you don’t know their financial situation.

Unless you are your client’s accountant or financial advisor, you don’t know what’s up with their money, and you might be making assumptions about their money. Assumptions that are totally false. You know the old saying, when you assume - my mama used to say this - you make an ass out of you and me.

So I want to see less assuming and more earning. So later on today’s episode, you’ll hear my conversation with Debra Melvin. She’s a financial planner and coach who specializes in serving divorced women. A great conversation about women and money. You will love it. Okay, let’s get into today’s episode, so here we go.

We’re starting with a segment that I call your two-minute pep talk. It might be longer than two minutes, get ready. This is the part of the show where I share some motivation and encouragement to get your week started off right, and I try to keep things to two minutes or less.

People, coaches, all y’all listening out there, I have a proclamation. Please imagine trumpets blasting all around and a big scroll unrolling like we’re in a royal court, because we are, aren’t we? Here’s my proclamation. I implore you, I urge you, stop making financial decisions for your clients. And when I say stop making financial decisions for your clients, what do you think that means?

It means stop assuming that you know your client’s financial situation and stop assuming they can’t afford to pay you a higher amount, and stop deciding that your people can only afford $97 and that’s all, because you might be totally misinformed.

For example, let’s say you’re putting together a high-end coaching program that includes one-on-one time with you, plus group time, plus lots of special touches like gifts in the mail, bonus materials, all kinds of valuable stuff. An amazing package. You know your work is impactful, you know you help your clients achieve beautiful results. You know you’re excellent at what you do.

So then maybe your business mentor suggests you charge 5K for the program and you balk. You’re like, “Nope, there is no way my dream clients could afford 5K. That’s way too much, no one will sign up.” Okay, you’re making a snap judgment about your clients’ financial abilities. Is your assumption correct? Are you 100% sure it’s correct? And how do you know for sure?

The fact is you don’t know. Think about all the people in your business community. Current clients, potential clients, subscribers, followers, fans. Maybe it’s 10 people or 200 or 10,000 or more. And you’re telling me that you have x-ray vision and you can see into every person’s bank account and you know every single person’s financial situation?

Nope, you don’t. There might be plenty of people out there who you can charge 5K or more and who would feel inspired and excited to do so. You don’t know their situation. They might have a lot more money than you think.

For instance, maybe someone out there in your community just received an inheritance and they want to do something meaningful with that money. Maybe someone just got a big divorce settlement and they want to use those funds to upgrade their health and mindset and begin a new chapter of life. Maybe someone just sold some real estate. A car, a boat, a bunch of furniture, and they want to use those funds to invest in themselves.

Maybe someone just won a grant and they can use the funds however they want. Maybe someone just took out a load or a line of credit and they want to use those funds to invest in themselves and gain new skills. Rather than spending 250K on a four-year college degree like an MBA, they’ve intentionally chosen to spend 25K on a mastermind coaching program.

All of those so far I’ve mentioned have actually happened with my clients. Maybe someone has a trust fund, or maybe some other source of income that you don't know about, also has happened with several clients. Maybe someone out there just received a big chunk of money from a class action lawsuit, an unexpected windfall of cash.

This happened to a friend of mine. She got an unexpected check in the mail from a class action settlement, from a company that had employed her years prior. This company got taken to court for mistreating its employees, denying them basic rights like a lunch break, and the employees fought and won and my friend got several thousand bucks that she was not expecting. True story.

Okay, another possibility. Maybe your potential client who doesn’t seem rich, but maybe they have plenty of money and tons of assets that you don’t know about. Now, I know I flaunt sequins and purses and shoes and all kinds of things, but actually, we’ve lived in the same house for 17 years, and some of my colleagues are like, “You’re still in that house?”

Sure, we could afford much more, but we wanted to keep our kids while we were raising them in the same house. So we live in a nice house, don’t get me wrong, but if you looked at this house, you might be like, “Wow, I expected her to live some place much more extravagant.”

The thing is you just don’t know. You don’t know from looking at people, how they dress, where they live, what they drive, you just don’t know what their financial situation really is because the opposite can go on. I’ve had people that I’m like, “Oh, they’ve got plenty of money,” and it turns out they didn’t. So you just don’t know. You get my gist.

The point is none of us really knows what someone else’s financial situation is and it might be very different than you imagine. So stop making assumptions, stop blocking people from paying you. Remember, this person is not investing in you. They’re investing in themselves. So don’t deny someone the opportunity to invest in themselves, and don’t deny them the opportunity to purchase a high-end program and get high-end results. Pep talk complete.

Now we’re moving into the part of the show where I give shout-outs to you. Shout-outs to listeners, clients, all the wonderful people in my business community. And today I want to give a shout-out to Lacy. So Lacy actually privately messaged me and she said, “Susan Hyatt, I have been in this industry a long time. I listen to your podcast every single week and I have to tell you that your bonus episodes…”

So you guys, side bar, if you haven’t listened to the two bonus episodes I dropped last week about the pandemic, go listen. So Lacy writes, “The bonus episodes saved me. I was all about hunkering down and riding this thing out without doing a launch. Your episodes convinced me to launch and I made an extra 100K.”

Lacy, you’re my girl. Alright hey, if you have something to say about this show, send an email to my team, Post a five-star iTunes review about this show, put something on social media, and you might hear your name on a future episode. I love giving shout-outs to y’all, so holler at me. Thanks for the love. I love you right back.

Coaches meet Debra Melvin. So Debra is a financial advisor and certified divorce financial analyst. She’s been working in this industry for over 16 years and her primary focus is working with divorced women and working with women to prepare for retirement. She’s all about helping women feel powerful and confident about their financial decisions.

So we connected recently for an awesome conversation about women and money, and she shared some gold advice about how to stay financially strong, whether it’s an economic slump or divorce or any other time. So here we go.

Susan: Alright, welcome to the show Debra Melvin.

Debra: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Susan: I’m so excited to have you here and one of the reasons why is you know I love money and one of the things that…

Debra: I do too.

Susan: I know you do. And you spend all day every day helping women protect their assets, protect their money. And your official title is certified divorce financial analyst, and what’s the shorthand for that? What do you think - if you were explaining that to a kiddo, what would you tell them you do?

Debra: I would say I help women with all things financial during and after divorce.

Susan: Right. So I think during is important. You may be thinking of divorce, you may be currently going through a divorce. I mean, lots of my clients are dealing with divorce and finances around it, and so I’m just thrilled to have you on the show so that you can really help talk through some things women need to think about and then also moving forward. So what would you say are some of the things that women come to you with that you think like, wow, I wish I could have talked to them six months ago?

Debra: Yeah. Well, I would say first of all, I usually work with what I call non-financially dominant spouse. So it’s a situation where the husband really handled the financial planning and investments. The women I work with, they’re smart women, but that just isn’t their role in the marriage.

They might have paid the bills, but when it came to that long-term financial planning thing, they weren’t going to see the financial advisor, or they went along but they didn’t really want to go. They just went because they felt like they had to.

So that’s kind of the typical profile. And oftentimes, those women, they might take a step back to have children and then they might re-enter the workforce, or they might start a business at that point, when their kids are in school. So that’s kind of the typical profile.

Susan: I just want to pause you right there because listening to you talk through that, I really have reinvented myself many times and who you were describing was former me in terms of like, I would begrudgingly go along, like you’re saying. Scott would say you need to know what’s going on. He would say like, I don’t want to make these decisions alone, and I would be so overwhelmed with kids and all that kind of stuff.

It was a very sort of traditional setup, the way you’re describing it. Things have really changed obviously, but I have talked very openly on this podcast before about when my kids were little, I was convinced that Scott Hyatt was the root of all my problems and I was going to leave him.

Debra: Yes, I’ve heard you talk about that.

Susan: And so at that point, it was during that time. I would have come to you, I would have been that client. Some of you listening may hear yourselves in that as well, but anyway, carry on.

Debra: That’s the exact profile. You nailed it. Often when they come to me, I’ll help them answer questions like, how much money can I really be spending? So if you’re going through a big transition like that, your life is changing, you might have to make some changes, you might not, but at least you’ll know. How much can I spend? Do I need to be saving anything? A big one I hear all the time is how much house can I afford?

So not just what does the bank say I can afford, but really, what makes the most sense for me building my long-term wealth on my own. How much risk do I have to take with my investments? That is a huge one right now with everything that’s going on with the market, the coronavirus. What type of risk profile do I have with my investments?

So these are all things that are on their minds that they haven’t really had to deal with before. To be quite honest, if they’re in the middle of a divorce, they don’t want to be dealing with it right now, but at some point you have to face the facts and deal with these questions. So those are some of the typical things I work through.

She likely might have had a financial planner with her ex-husband, but she doesn’t have one on her own anymore. So our goal through all of it is just looking to move forward in your financial future with some confidence and clarity. That’s really what we’re trying to do.

Susan: Okay, so one of the things that you just mentioned that I wrote down is risk profile and this is a really interesting way to talk about this because I mean, everybody pretty much listening to this podcast is an entrepreneur or they want to be an entrepreneur.

And so your tolerance for risk is something that I’ve talked about. What does it mean in your world? So a risk profile for someone, what does that even mean?

Debra: So even if you are - if you’re willing to take some risks with your career and your new business, you still might be a little risk averse when it comes to the assets that you’ve accumulated. And not to stereotype, but I see that a lot with my divorce cases. There’s a lot of fear. People want to be safe.

A lot of change, so we tend to want to keep our money in something where we can’t lose anything. But that means we’re not going to make anything. So oftentimes I say I baby-step people there, and that’s really one of my strengths. I will get you to where you need to be to make your financial plan work, but I will do it in a way that it doesn’t throw you out of your comfort zone on day one.

So if you have all of your money sitting in the bank, good luck retiring. If you’re invested like an 80-year-old grandma, you’re not going to be able to retire, or you’re going to need 20 million dollars to do it. And it all relates back to the financial plan. We always do a divorce financial plan just so you know what you need to do to reach that end result.

Susan: And I like the way you’re describing this because I think a lot of entrepreneurs in particular can be risk takers, but they’re not necessarily planning for their financial future. So entrepreneurs tend to be driven by ideas and solutions, which is fantastic, but they’ll not necessarily take the steps they need to take to make sure that we need to create our own retirement plan.

Debra: And I get that because I am an entrepreneur too, so I, by nature, get that. And I always say it’s not my job to tell you what to do, but you’re going to know what each action step you take means for your future. So at least you can make that decision with facts behind it and confidence. But ultimately, it’s still your decision.

Susan: And so you brought up the coronavirus, and as we’re recording this, we’re in the midst of it. You mentioned before we started the recording that you just recorded some videos to send out to your clients and I’m curious, what are you telling people as the market is down right now?

Debra: Number one, I’m telling them that stick to the investment plan that we have created together. It’s so easy when this happens to want to just abandon the plan, run to cash, save what’s left. But we build your plan preparing for these events. So if you’ve done the work and done your investment planning, created one with me, stick to that plan.

And then sometimes just a reminder, looking back at history that we’ve lived through this before. You will live through it again over and over. It is not different this time. Everybody always says that, “It’s different this time.” I’m hearing a lot of the same things I heard during the financial crisis. A lot of those same fears. So I’m just reaching out to people and reminding them we have planned for this. This is not a surprise. I am not worried on my end because we created your plan.

Susan: I love hearing you say this because so much right now is the sky is falling and we have to look, this is temporary. This is temporary and we have to look at the bigger picture. You and I were talking about there’s a coaching tool that I learned in Martha Beck coach training called eagle vision versus mouse vision.

And everybody’s scurrying around right now, I intermittently fall back there in mouse vision where it’s like, what’s right in front of you. Let me buy some toilet paper. And eagle vision is rising up above and looking at the big picture, which is what you’re encouraging your clients to do. Like no, we have a plan that is solid and we’re going to keep the plan because this is just like any other crisis in history, every storm runs out of rain. We’re going to get through this.

And those of you listening a couple of episodes back, I recorded an episode about history lessons and all the different crises that we’ve lived through and what businesses do during a time of crisis, and what individuals, like your clients can do during a time of crisis, which is stick to the plan.

And I’m wondering too what your opinion is on this, I’m challenging myself as well to look around and say okay, what are the high-quality solutions here and what are high quality thoughts? And when the market is down, what do you tell people? What’s the opportunity?

Debra: Buy, buy, buy.

Susan: If you’re going to do anything different right now, it’s buy.

Debra: And I kind of phrase it this way; you have three options. The best option is buy. Add money to stocks when they’re down. Option two, stay the course. Worst thing you can do is sell. And we all know that, but just like having a business coach or anything else, you just need that reassurance from the person you’ve hired. You just need that reminder. You know deep down that is the answer, but you need that reminder and you need an expert to guide you through it.

Susan: I have a couple clients - I’m married to a commercial realtor and developer and he had a big deal, a huge deal he had been working on for a long time fall apart, right before closing, because he was not representing the buyer. He was representing the seller and the buyer basically said to their agent, “We’re just in a wait and see pattern, we don’t want to invest any money right now.”

And I have a couple clients who are realtors as well who are like, deals are falling apart, and it’s sort of like listen, if you are an investor in any way, shape or form, right now is prime time. What are you saying? This is the best time to be doing stuff like that.

Debra: And that’s why you see people, financial advisors right now, they’re not panicking because we know that. We know that not everyone is in a place where you are where they can say that in that instant. They will see it eventually, but we need to encourage that behavior during the crisis.

Susan: So in regular times, what are some steps, best practices that you have your clients to prepare for making these kinds of decisions with you?

Debra: A couple of different things. So if I go back to the women I work with who are going through a divorce, I have six steps that I really guide them through. And this applies if you’re thinking about divorce or in the middle of divorce, but a lot of it applies to after.

Number one, make sure you have a bank account in your own name. We don’t always see that in marriage, and I’ve seen even the most well-intentioned divorces get ugly pretty quickly. My latest one was an argument about summer camp. Their kids go to camp every year, now the husband doesn’t want to pay for it because he knows it’s important to the wife.

You don’t have your own bank account, you’re kind of - kids might not be going to camp right now. So make sure you have a bank account in your own name. Number two, make sure that you have a credit card in your own name. I see a lot of moms where husbands just control the finances, things might not be in the mom’s name at all.

And it might not be bad intentions, but he’s just taking care of it and then your credit history has just kind of disappeared. Or you have a credit card in your own name, run a credit report. One woman I worked with, she thought their home was paid for and her husband had mortgaged the house for a business venture that didn’t work out, so time to file for divorce and net worth just dropped by one and a half million dollars.

So pay attention. Run a credit report. And I would say the biggest one, get advice. It might cost you a little more now, but it can save you from making some really big poor decisions in the future. So my role, certified divorce financial analyst, a great attorney, a real estate agent, a mortgage broker who specializes in divorce, an estate planning attorney.

So hire experts in any of these areas and it will really help you out in the long term. Again, people think when they’re divorced, it’s done. It’s not. There’s a lot to do after the divorce. Step number five, organize your records. Now with everything online, it’s a little bit harder to track everything.

Susan: Really?

Debra: Well, if your husband’s doing something that he doesn’t want you to know about, it’s not like you’re getting the bank statement in the mail anymore because it’s all online. I see that one a lot. Bank statements, credit card statements, investment accounts, everything, insurance statements, property deed. You need to dig and find all of that.

And then step six, which just applies to everybody, track your assets. Know where you stand. Know your net worth. A lot of people kind of put their head in the sand at this step. It’s a fear thing for people. Just know where you stand. So that is going to be more specific than stepping into the more just general financial advisor role.

The best thing you can do is create the financial plan, stick to the plan, and make sure that you’re doing regular reviews with your advisor. Like right now, we talked about buying more. That can mean writing a check, but it can also mean just rebalancing your portfolio. So if you’re not meeting with your advisor or talking to them, you’re really missing out. So ongoing review. It’s not just a one and done kind of thing. It’s ongoing.

Susan: That’s what we did. We’ve been like, what you would call rebalancing. And I have to say, I feel like Scott and I are pretty great partners and pretty on top of this kind of stuff, but he came home and he was like, I decided to put a certain dollar amount into Disney. And I was like, oh, you decided? I was sort of like, wait a minute, I would have bought Peloton. So we had a big tit for tat on that…

Debra: But he told you, so that’s…

Susan: Right, he did tell me. And to be fair, I do usually listen to his recommendations. And he’s very good at it, so I’m usually like, okay, whatever. But I was like, wait just a freaking minute, sir.

Debra: I would like to pre-approve those from now on.

Susan: Right. And so occasionally, like you’re saying, there’s no malicious intent, but as women, we need to really insert ourselves into these rooms where decisions are being made and to these conversations, and not just go to sleep on it.

Debra: Yeah. And I know you’ve talked before about the invisible workload of women. Women just tend to take care of the kids more. That’s just natural. So it’s not uncommon for the man to take a little bit more on in the financial space.

Susan: Well, and that’s also what was modeled in his home, that his mother ran everything, but his father made the big decisions that were financial. Very traditional. So it’s like battling or butting up against those old patterns. It’s like you said, giving women back their power through a financial plan.

Debra: That’s it. It’s giving power back and financial education. I’m really big on that. That’s really my passion. Financial education, just so you know.

Susan: And so how can Rich Coach Club listeners find you? What’s the best way to ask questions? See what they could do with you?

Debra: Okay, so I have two programs. I have the Divorce Financial Planning program, and that’s really for someone who’s going through a divorce. And then you can work with me one-on-one, and that would apply to divorce but also people who aren’t divorced. There’s two ways to really work with me. Couple ways to find me. You can go to my website, which is really long…

Susan: We’ll put it in the show notes too.

Debra:, which stands for certified divorce financial analyst, -for-women. You would schedule a phone consultation with me with my online scheduler and that’s If you’re on Facebook, you can search for my group, Divorced Millionaire Moms. Coming soon I will have a podcast with the same name.

Susan: Divorced Millionaire Moms. You guys need to get in there if you’re divorced, going through a divorce, and have some money to invest.

Debra: Yes. Or you can find my book on Amazon. It’s Finding Your Worth and Wealth. It’s a workbook.

Susan: Oh, that’s so awesome. Finding Your Worth and Wealth. Well, I think that this is such an important topic for so many women. I appreciate you taking the time to pop over here. And I have one final question for you. What’s something that makes you feel rich that doesn’t cost a lot of money or costs nothing?

Debra: Being really organized.

Susan: No one has said that.

Debra: Oh gosh, that does it for me. Everything in the right place makes me feel rich.

Susan: Oh my god, I love it. You want to come over and organize all my shit?

Debra: I don’t like to do it but I like it to be organized.

Susan: She’s like, no.

Debra: Not my skillset.

Alright, one last quickie for today. I want to leave you with this. A question for you. When a client hires you, what do they walk away with? Once the coaching program is complete and they’ve concluded their work with you, what do they have? What’s changed for them? What have they gained? Does your client walk away with a marriage that’s stronger than ever? A better sex life? Freedom from the agony of dieting and obsessing about their weight? A totally new relationship with food and exercise and self-care? A finished book? The book they’ve wanted to write for 10 years?

What do they gain and what’s that worth? A thriving marriage, a household that stays together instead of splitting apart. Is that worth 5K? Definitely. 10K? Yup. Finally experiencing peace around food, finally getting confident with your body, is that worth 5K? Yup. 10K? Yup. Sure is. It’s priceless.

As a coach, you’re in the business of changing lives. You offer life-altering results and these kinds of life-altering results are definitely worth a lot more than three payments of $49. So as you’re setting your pricing, please stop undervaluing yourself and please stop assuming that your clients can’t afford you.

If you offer a high-end program that provides high-end results, then this program should come with a high-end price tag. That is not greedy. It’s fair and appropriate. And there are plenty of people out there who can afford you more than you think.

Thank you for listening to today’s episode. Have a beautiful week. Start making some new assumptions. If you’re going to assume, then start assuming the best instead of the worst. What if you start assuming there are plenty of people out there who can totally afford to hire me and in fact, will be excited to do so? Now that is an assumption that’s going to bring you new clients and big money.

Thank you for listening to Susan Hyatt's Rich Coach Club. If you enjoyed today's show, please head over to where you'll find my brand new money magazine. Now listen, we designed this magazine to be entertaining, educational, and help you make serious bank.

So you can download the magazine, there’s a money quiz inside, there’s an interview with one of my favorite clients who went from making no money and being served eviction papers, to making over six figures in a very short amount of time. So the magazine includes that feature, lots of resources to help you do it, lots of resources about creating wealth and investing money.

It’s pretty robust, y’all. So head over to to get that magazine. And you’ll also find a link to join my free Facebook community, especially for coaches called Rich Coach Club. So bring your coaching practice and your income to the next level at See you next week.

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