How Nicole Shifted Her Finances From Good To Great

Money Files

Proactive is the word I’d use to describe the client I’m chatting with this week. She dared to reach out to work with me even though she was in an okay place with her finances so she could move from good to great. 

Nicole started working with me early last year after getting a lump sum of money from refinancing her condo. After talking to her financial advisor, she quickly realized she needed a coach to help her make decisions and work with her on her money mindset. She wanted to understand how she could reframe her spending habits to get what she wanted out of her finances.

In today’s episode, you’ll hear Nicole share the significant shifts she has made since working with me.

In this episode, you’ll learn — 

[01:19] What motivated Nicole’s initial contact and the financial hurdles that made her reach out and work with me

[09:02] How our coaching partnership has shifted Nicole’s mindset, financial control, and ownership in her business

[24:37] How to create the freedom to do what you enjoy without worrying about money. 

[27:17] How Nicole feels after investing in herself to the level she is now and why it’s priceless

[30:11] Setbacks that Nicole has been able to navigate after working with me and the lessons she has learned 

[34:56] Nicole’s biggest takeaway for someone who wants to move from good to great

Tune in to this episode of Money Files to learn more about Nicole’s story, how you can reframe your mindset and make shifts in your personal and business finances.

Ready to reframe your mindset and make shifts in your money relationship? Apply to work with me, and let’s start working towards your financial goals.



KeinaHi, and welcome to Money Files. I’m Keina Newell from Wealth Over now. I work every day with professional women and solopreneurs to help them get out of financial overwhelming shame so they can experience more flexibility and ease with their finances. Are you ready to gain confidence and learn to manage your finances intentionally? Tune in and grab financial tips that will help you master the way you think about and manage your finances.

Keina: Hello and welcome back to another episode of Money Files. Today I’m with my client Nicole. Hi Nicole. 

Nicole: Hello. 

Keina: Thank you for joining me. 

Nicole: Of course. Happy to be here. 

Keina: Do you want to go ahead and introduce yourself? 

Nicole: Sure. So my name is Nicole Bell. I work for the US government, so I work for the FDA. I’m also an officer in the public health service and I have a photography business. So I’ve got a lot going on over here. 

Keina: I love that you just were like how am I supposed to introduce myself? See, you did fabulous. So, I mean, really my beginning question with you is like, tell us in the beginning, like what was your challenge? What made you reach out to work with me? 

Nicole: Okay. This is a good starting place. So as Keina knows, I actually did a consultation with her I think a couple years before we actually worked together. So I felt like I was in a place that I had a good handle on my finances, I didn’t feel out of control or that there was a fire around me and I’m just sitting there minding my business. It wasn’t that kind of situation, but I felt that I needed a second set of eyes, or I needed a little bit of refining in my finances. And I think we talked about this early in our coaching relationship. I really wanted to, again, just fine tune what I was doing with my finances. So working with you and some of what you do with your clients to a certain extent was already doing them. So money dates and things like that. And I have my spreadsheet and all of that, and I was doing those things, but I still felt that I just needed something extra, needed a little bit more, and I couldn’t see that me being the person looking at my finances, I felt like I needed another set of eyes.

So that’s really where I was in my initial contact with you and wanting to hear more about your coaching. And then again, the second time that I reached out and we finally got into our coaching relationship. But again, I felt like I was in an okay place. I just wanted to take that next step and just again, have that refinement in my finances and have another set of eyes on what I thought was a good job. So yeah, that’s what initially brought me to you. 

Keina: I’m so glad that you brought up the fact that you did two consults with me. I’m curious if you remember like what changed in between the first consult? Because I maybe said it was like a year and a half or so between the first consult and the second consult, but like, what changed for you in you like getting on the phone and being like, yes, let’s do this work?

Nicole: So I believe the first time I was still in Maryland, so I think I had been following you on social media for some time, but I remember still being in Maryland and I actually, I do remember this. I actually referred you to a friend of mine. I said, look, this is someone you need to talk to. I haven’t worked with her personally, but from what I’ve seen, she is fantastic. So that was the initial consult. And then the second time, so early last year, 2021, I actually refinanced my condo and I did a cash out refinance. So I had this lump sum of money in savings and I had ideas about what I wanted to do with that money. And I had met with a financial advisor, which I know is different from you as a financial coach. 

And so I had met with him and went over like the big picture of my finances. It wasn’t that we were actually discussing the day to day, some of those conversations that you might need to have with yourself on whether you need to add another item to Amazon cart or buy another candle. So some of those more intimate conversations that I wasn’t going to get from my financial advisor, I realized with having refinanced my condo and wanting to do some things that I needed someone who could actually help me make some of those decisions and work with me on mindset and the reasons why we spend and how we spend and how we can reframe what it is we want to get out of our money with our spending habits and things like that.

So that really was, I think the driver the second time around was that, again, I had the big picture, that part of it was accomplished, but some of the more smaller minutia of how we manage our money, I still wasn’t fully settled on. So reaching back out to you and had worked with the financial advisor and knowing the difference and understanding the difference between an advisor and a coach, I felt that it was the right time for me to circle back around and really work with you in a way that I don’t think I saw the first time around. So that was really the big difference for me at that point.

Keina: I love that you pointed out because like if I thought of an overarching headline for you, it’s like, good to great. Because I think some people think, especially depending on if they’ve listened to interviews with clients, it’s like, oh, well you have to be in a lot of debt, or you need to know how to like, save money, but like you’re a six figure earner. I would also agree, everything is going really well. You had a spreadsheet, you had the multiple accounts, you had all the things, but just being able. I know one conversation we had and I equated it to this analogy that I had when I was in teaching and they talked about a three legged stool where it’s like, okay, I have you Keina, I have myself, and then, we have this like the advisor or a document, but we’re actually able to look at like, am I making decisions in a way that actually are driving me towards the goals that I want to ultimately achieve?

Keina: Right. Absolutely. 

Nicole: And I can say that looking back on our coaching partnership, that shift really, I’ve seen that and those decisions come a lot easier for me. And some of the smaller suggestions that I got from you in our sessions and also from social media, like, hey, put that in the cart, leave it for a day, see how you feel the next day. And it’s really simple things like that that we sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees, where we need someone who is outside of our day to day. During our sessions, I know sometimes I would meet with you on a week where I would meet with my therapist and I’m like, Keina, like this is just another therapy session. Because again, it’s like for folks who have good relationships with their therapists or who are in therapy, a lot of the things that I guess are like your aha moments, they’re not really aha moments. Like we know these things, but it takes someone outside of our bubble, our environment to say, hey, have you noticed that you X, Y, and Z? And it’s like, okay, I just needed someone to bring that to my attention in a way that I might not have seen before. So I really enjoyed that about our conversations and it really was like a part two of therapy. So, yeah just really helpful. 

Keina: Yeah. I was telling somebody recently who wanted to work with me. I was like, one of my clients really loves to back their sessions up to therapy. So if you would like therapy and coaching on the same day, I hear they work really well together. Highly recommend, get you a double dose. When you’re talking about like those shifts you had, like what were some of the shifts?

Nicole: So I’ll talk a little bit about my photography business. And one of the things that we talked alot about, is me taking more ownership and more control of the ability for me to create the life that I want through my photography business and the control that I have over that, which is one of my favorite things to do is be in control all the time. 

Keina: All my clients like to be in control like me. 

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s, it’s a common theme. So photography is, for me, again I mentioned that I work for the FDA and I’m a public health service officer, and so I have a full-time job and I love my job. I love the work that I do. I love the people that I work with. And for me, photography, I have no desire to go full-time. People have been paying me to take photos of them for about a decade now. And one of the things that I enjoy is that I can control how much work I take on. But one of the mindset shifts that I had with you and in our relationship was that, in the way that I can control the work that I take on, I can use that to drive this life that I’m trying to create. We talk about travel a lot and buying candles. I’m going to keep bringing that up and some of the things that we enjoy where I would prefer not to have to consider can I afford this or do I need to rob Peter to pay Paul to do these things or go on these trips with my friends and things like that. And using photography to be able to create that and looking at it in a different way.

Looking at photography and my business as a, I guess I could say like a companion to my full-time and not, “well, I got to take extra jobs so I can do this.” And looking at it more in a way where I’m using it to create a life that I want to see. I will say in the past two years at my full-time job, I’ve taken on a new position. I’m a supervisor now. And so that requires a lot of extra hours, meetings and sitting in front of the computer where I previously was out in the field. And at the end of the day, I don’t want to talk to anybody. And so thinking about, okay, well now I have a session after work, or I’ve got sessions all weekend when I really would just like to be vegging out in bed, I’m now looking at it where I’m able to say, hey, how long is the shoot really? 45 minutes, an hour? And what can we use those earnings toward? What can we use that money to do? What trips can we go on? 

It really, I think has allowed me to look past the immediate if you will, not immediate gratification, but it allows me to look past just doing the work. And really what energy I’m putting into my life, a year or two years, five years. We talked also a lot about what I saw for my family, what position would I love to be able to put my family in? And so a lot of the shifts that have happened for me have really, I think some part of it has gone outside of myself, thinking about other things that I want to do and who can I be there to support.

So it’s really been I think a really big eye-opener for me. Again, looking past photography as just, okay, now I’ve got another business and all of the things that go along with owning and running a business to get me to look at things in a way that really, I think I wasn’t able to see initially. So it’s been a shift in not only what I see for myself, but in my attitude, where things are not just, ugh, you want me to pack my gear up and schlep it onto a session, but actually enjoying the work, the buildup, the after, and then what I’ve accomplished and what I’m able to do with this business. So it’s been a really great shift for me in that regard. 

Keina: I feel like you said a lot, and now I feel like I need to back up and provide some context because we worked on your personal finances. So like, just to recap for people who are listening, you make good money, we’re not worried about you paying your bills. That’s not the struggle. But I mean, I remember on our console we’re like a couple candles at Target shouldn’t set you back, but also I shouldn’t have this full urge to maybe buy all the candles. So there was that, but then as you’re like kind of, you also have this business and so we did talk about business finances as well, but one of the things I remember about our work together, which I feel like in what you just shared, you kind of highlighted for me is that, and I mean this in a loving way, like you were settled with what you had. It’s not like a pressing thing that you need to make more money because you’re in the military, so it’s like, yeah, my retirement’s kind of set, like things are in motion.

I remember asking you in like the first session I was like, where do you want to be in a year from now, five years from now? And it was kind of just like, I mean, it’s fine. I feel like one of my goals was like to poke you and poke and pry you to be like what else could be true? Like, what kind of life do you want during retirement? Because really retirement for you could be sooner in the sense of like your years in service. And it was like, have you actually visualized what that would look like for you or like when we were talking, I was like, thinking about your mom or thinking about your siblings, what are these other pieces that maybe you haven’t considered?

So I think we went in to kind of blow up your big picture and to see what are the things that you’re doing right now that could drive you towards creating a different life? Which for me all starts with a budget. But I don’t think that sometimes people see the connection because I think you can build a life through numbers.

Nicole: Absolutely. Yeah. You’re right. Being a single woman, no kids, part of my thoughts on savings and retirement and these things that we are as working people plan for the future. You mentioned my pension and things like that where it’s difficult for me to imagine, well it was, it was difficult for me to imagine the purpose of me saving. Why do I have a retirement account? I have a pension or why am I doing these things where it’s just going to be me? And like you said, blowing up my life and thinking about these other areas that of course are on my mind. My family and continuing to enjoy the things that I do on a daily basis. But it really was, you poked me, like you said, to think about things in a way that I hadn’t before. And like you always say is putting names to these dollars, right? So let’s say, I can’t remember the percentage, but I wasn’t maxing out my retirement. So it’s like, okay, well I’m saving for retirement, but if I max it out, so what, who’s going to be the beneficiary of that? 

And just again, blowing up things where it really, I don’t want to say force, that doesn’t seem like the the right word, but it allowed me to look at the reasons why I am doing things outside of, oh, well this is what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to contribute to your retirement count. You’re supposed to have savings. Like, okay, yeah, they say we’re supposed to, but for what? Do you want to redo your bathroom at some point? Do you want to send your mom somewhere? Do you want to retire your mom? Like, these are things that I don’t think I actually considered were to be possibilities because again, it’s just me. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t areas in my life that I could be allocating, if you will, these funds to, not in the immediate future and that’s okay. So yeah, you definitely blew things up for me in a good way. 

Keina: Because I think, as you’re talking about that, and for those people who know what I look like, I’m a black woman, Nicole is a black woman, and what it kind of brings up for me as well is like thinking about like I know my story. Like my parents didn’t go to college and thinking like, my dad was also like military people, so they live off of retirement from military, et cetera. But my life looks different than theirs. And I think it was funny because in working with you, I feel like our birthdays are like a week away. I’m like, we’re basically the same person. So I need to share with her all of these dreams that I have because as I’ve met other people and been exposed to different things, it’s made me ask different questions. 

And so this idea of hidden limitations that I was just talking about is like, if you kind of think about what you’ve been surrounded by and you only hear the people around you talking about the things that they’re talking, like my mom and dad are not worried about going to Croatia at all. Or thinking about, do you want multiple streams of income or like, what could that do for you? Like that’s not the household that I grew up in. And so those things come from people outside of me, having those conversations, having those thoughts. And I just wanted to highlight that because I think that if you’re listening to this, you may see the work that I do with clients as just like, we’re saving money or paying down debt. Which I think like that’s important, but it’s also thinking about what are the possibilities that you haven’t considered? And I think it speaks to the importance of investing in yourself in a new way because it’s like, oh well this person can hold dreams that I didn’t even know I had and I get to kind of have access to what I want to pull into my future.

Nicole: Right. That exposure is super important because you, like you mentioned our birthdays are close, we’re both deltas. We have a lot of shared experiences, but that doesn’t mean we can’t expose each other to new experiences and new ideas and things that we hadn’t considered even having, you know, a lot of similarities. And that’s one thing that I appreciate not only in this coaching relationships, but I think that for people who are involved in other similar type situations, mentorships and things like that, it’s about that exposure because we can’t all have the same life experiences. Oh that’s just not possible. And so to be exposed to things in a way that allows you to expand really just blow up your mindset and what you thought was possible is really, I think an invaluable and not always a benefit that people might come into this relationship thinking they’re going to get. And so that to me, I think was unexpected. It was unexpected. And I think really one of the biggest parts of our partnership was the exposure and really looking past what I thought was possible even for my own life. 

Keina: Yeah. Listen, that’s my number one goal. I’m like, no, you can do these things. I think we might all need someone who believes in us. I know when I worked with coaches, like they’ve given me thoughts and I’m like, if I think about my business when somebody told me I can make like a $10,000 month, I was like, are you sure because according to historical data, it’s like things that you don’t believe to be true. And I know for you, like when I was looking at your business, I’m like, set a goal because it’s going to frame everything for you. Like it’s going frame like the amount of money you can create or what comes up for you when you think about making $50,000 a year and what’s supposed to be a side hustle. 

And I know one of the tangible results of that work was where you were paying yourself like regularly a set amount. You just were giving, you know, just I need some personal cash. But your business started taking care of itself. Like it’s whole full entity and then you were able to separate out your personal finances and really think about like what your money could do for you month to month and you get paid once a month, which I know is another hiccup for people that they’re like, I don’t know. 

Nicole: Oh boy, I can’t imagine going back to not getting, give me all of my money. In fact I’m like, it’s the 28, it’s about to be my time. I think for my business, because I had, like separate checking account and I wasn’t really paying myself as I should have been. But you also, well, I don’t want to say refined, I think you did a little bit more with my business than refinement, but it was just setting things up in a way that makes so much more sense. Having different accounts for my taxes and gear repairs and things where it’s like, now Nicole, you know that you need to get your gear clean once a year or however often, so why don’t you have a line item for that? And I’m like Keina, you’re right. 

And again, it’s the things that looking at my business from my perspective, having a different perspective to say, hey, you know, you do this, like why don’t you just make it a line item? It’s like, oh, what a great idea. Again, this is how I feel in therapy where it’s like I know these things, but having someone else to point them out to me in a way that I hadn’t considered before is just like, you can’t put a price on that. If anybody is on the fence about coaching, it’s more than the dollar amount. It really does allow you to think about your personal finances, your business finances, other areas in your life that you had not considered. And being able to bring everything together. It really does allow you to push further, bring things into your life that you couldn’t have imagined. And yeah, I’ll stop there. 

Keina: Well like when you’re talking about some of these little things, the other thing I remember is on your personal side, I remember being like, do you get your hair braided before you go on trips? Like how do you bring these little things in? Because it’s like the smallest things that are tripping you up and making you feel like, dang, I shouldn’t be going on this yacht vacation with my girls because I didn’t remember that I get my hair braided. It’s not that overt when you’re in the midst of it, but it’s like you feel like you’re not. I feel like the thing you wanted to do was to be able to spend money freely without having to think about it. 

Nicole: Yes. There’s a lot less thought. And I don’t mean to say I’m spending money carelessly or recklessly, but buying things that are both necessities and or wants I find that I do that or I’m able to do that with less thought now. You brought up me getting my hair braided. I’m actually going on vacation next week and I have to get my hair braided. So it’s like, oh yeah, let me make that appointment because I know that money is already there. I don’t have to think about where am I going to pull that money from? I bought a plane ticket for my birthday, which is five, six months away from now. No problem. That money is already there. So again, I don’t want to say it’s mindless spending. 

Keina: It’s not mindless. It’s like having no worries. The systems are in place, like you’ve accounted for how you want to spend money. 

Nicole: And I was thinking about our chat today and some things crept up into my head and I mentioned having the World Cup on, and so the World Cup will be here in 2026. I was like, oh, I need to set up my bucket for the World Cup. Because when the tickets go on sale, I’ve already told my friends, I say, hey look, there are no questions. You all need to have your money ready because we are buying these tickets. So it allows me to have that foresight and to me that’s where the freedom comes from. The freedom comes from having biweekly money dates. The freedom comes from thinking about what’s coming up, what things come up every year. Christmas is here. I’m not worried about Christmas, I’ve been saving for Christmas since last Christmas. So it’s things like that where it’s freedom, it’s the freedom for me to be able to do the things that I want to do and not have to worry about where the money is coming from.

Keina: How did it feel to invest in yourself at this level? It was scary at first. I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to lie. It was scary. I will say that. You get what you pay for. So I believe in that. You’ll get what you pay for, but with anything in life, you have to consider what the return is. And I think having done a consultation with you a year and a half, two years before we actually worked together, seeing the work that you have done with your other clients, seeing the results, I think the second time around it was a no brainer. I want to say that having followed you on social media listening to your podcast, it wasn’t a difficult decision. It wasn’t a difficult decision to work with you. It was only a matter of me wanting to be serious with myself.

Because again, I thought I was or not thought I was in a good place, I had some systems in place, there were things. I had different buckets and things like that. But you have a very, I don’t want to say uncanny, but you have a very good way of gently telling people about themselves and it’s with love. You tell people about themselves with love and grace and understanding and it’s a no judgment zone. And I really want, I’ve brought up therapy, but I want to equate your relationship with your clients also like a doctor patient relationship. If your clients are not honest with you about what’s going on, where they are in their finances, they’re not going to get the full benefit of the relationship. So I encourage people, be honest with Keina, lay everything out.

And that’s really how you will come out of this. Having invested in yourself, me having invested in myself, I feel that I’ve come out on the other side and I’m like, I can handle anything. What do you want to throw at me? We can do it. And I think that is really what I have taken away from this investment is the ability to take on or to bear the brunt of any financial troubles because everything’s not going to be great all the time. I’m going to knock on wood, but my finances are 10 plus years old, something’s going to happen at some point in time. I’m not worried about it. So it’s really the freedom, the freedom and the ability for me to adjust, to pivot, that is, I think for me and also the mindset shift. And not just my personal, but really my business, I think that’s the biggest mindset shift that I’ve had with you. 

That to me, the investment that I have taken on and put in myself is just, it really is invaluable because I believe I have set myself up to continue to be a high earner, to make more money and not feel that I don’t know what to do with myself or with my new found resources. So I think it’s been invaluable. I still am using all of the tools you have given me. So yeah, the investment has been priceless pretty much. 

Keina: Is there like any setbacks that you’ve had that you can think of that you’ve like, been able to navigate that maybe you feel like you wouldn’t have been able to navigate? 

Nicole: Yes. So I actually closed on my investment property in September. 

Keina: Oh, congratulations.

Nicole: Thank you. I save a little nugget. So one of the things, it’s starting to creep up a little bit, but I close in September and I had some work done on a place and was ready to have it rented out October 1st. It has not been rented. So on December 1st will be the second mortgage payment that I have to cover on this place. It’s my bill. I’m covering the utilities. I am covering everything on this home that is currently vacant. So I am every day saying a prayer that God will bring me some tenants for this duplex. But you in my mind I’m closing and I’m like, okay, in two weeks it’s going to be ready to go and then we’ll get somebody in October, my first payment isn’t due until November. No worries. I’m going to have somebody in there post haste. 

Yeah, no, that’s not how it worked out. So I allotted a certain amount of my savings over to this property for repairs and anything else, property management funds, things like that. And so the money is there, the money is there to pay the mortgage. I’m not pulling money out of my own paycheck every month to cover the mortgage or cover the utilities. So that was not on my radar to be covering two mortgages. And so yeah, that’s definitely been a setback because we talked about this and me wanting to buy a property and it hasn’t gone the way I thought. And that’s okay because again, we have the funds to cover it. So as much as I do not like paying two mortgages, it is okay for now. But yeah, it’s been a learning experience for me, in that you gotta have some savings. You got to have savings and things are, to your point, right to the question, things are not always going to go well. And again, how do we bear the brunt of some of those problems that creep up? And so my antennas are a little concerned, but that’s just me being very cautious with money. But yeah, I think it’ll work out when it does, but until that happens, I’ll be paying two mortgages. 

Keina: And even as you’re thinking about this conversation, I think because you talked a lot about mindset earlier, and life is going to life regardless if you are over the age of 18, you figured that out already. But in thinking about that, it’s like, what do you choose to think about it and what do you make different situations mean about yourself? I think that’s the common difference, I would say like in between people that I’ve worked with versus people that are coming to me and what they would make any financial disruption mean. Like, oh, see, I shouldn’t have bought this property. I knew X, Y, Z. And so then you start attaching it to like, past things that have happened versus being able to keep, even if your antennas are up, being able to keep that kind of neutral space. Be like, it’s going to be okay, I did prepare for this and reminding yourself that you did have a plan and this is a part of the plan even though you really didn’t want to touch the money that you had saved. 

Nicole: It’ll all work out. 

Keina: It’s all going to work out well. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that I should have asked you? 

Nicole: One of the biggest takeaways for me in coming to you and thinking I was in a good place, and like you said, going from good to great, because to me I was like, okay, well what am I going to get from this? Am I going to get something valuable? Am I going to get that return on the investment? And the question was absolutely yes. So I guess for folks like myself who are in a good place, there’s always room for improvement. There’s always a space to be poked and prodded and have some of those questions asked of you, and maybe not having an answer right away, but thinking about what those answers could be and what those shifts in your mindset, what that would like for the life that you’re trying to create. I think you asked all the right questions that got that message from me out. Because again, that to me was the question that I had for myself is, I’m good, but you took me from good to great. So I hope anybody who’s in that position who might be on the fence is like, no, go from good to great. Trust me. Absolutely go from good to great. 

Keina: I love it. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. 

Nicole: You’re welcome. 

Keina: Alright, Nicole, thank you for joining me and tune into my podcast episode next week. 

Nicole: Thank you for having me.

Keina: Thank you so much for listening to Money Files. If you’re ready to take the next step to reach your financial goals, head to and let’s get started.

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