People often say managing spending is as simple as spending less than you make. But if it were really that simple, then a grade six education would be all that’s needed to ensure financial success.

The bad news? Cash flow planning is about a lot more than math. The good news? Your clients need your help, and you can add value with a written cash flow plan.

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This year I’ll be going through the entire alphabet of cash flow planning so you’ll be prepared to improve clients’ finances. Here are A, B and C.

A is for Authenticity

In order to give effective cash flow advice, you must follow it, too. A client can smell inauthentic spending advice a mile away. You’ll have difficulty answering the little easy questions that would only be known by someone actually going through the process.

Read: The right way to manage debt and cash flow

No matter your income, you should still follow a cash flow plan. What’s more, this method of financial management is highly efficient for higher-income clients. Don’t lose out on your own greatest advice!

B is for Behaviour

Cash flow planning involves math. But when it comes to helping clients get the life they want from the money they have, behaviour is key. When you give a client advice about spending, a budget will do little good. Even tracking spending is not effective over the long term, as it is only recording history. Cash flow planning has many subtle and effective behavioral spending techniques. These strategies begin to affect a client’s purchasing habits within days, and they often see significant results with in the first two to three months.

Read: Short-term goals increase planning success

C is for Commitment

You might think consolidation would make for a better selection. But consolidation gets most clients thinking about lower monthly payments, which actually makes their debt cost more. In order to make a cash flow plan work, you and your client be completely committed. This is where goals come in.

Read: Debt-free sounds good, but few making headway

Some clients might choose goals such as “becoming debt free,” but don’t be fooled. Clients rarely permanently curb shorter-term or daily spending so many years in the future they might become debt-free. There is no emotional attachment to becoming debt-free. You must get to clients’ reasons for being debt-free in order to gain their commitment: for example, they want to be able to afford to work 4 days a week. And, you must make cash flow planning a regular part of the work you do with all ideal clients. They won’t commit if you don’t.

Read: Cash (flow) is King

Continue on to letter D by reading The ABCs of cash flow planning: D is for Detrimental.