The ABCs of cash flow planning: Z is for Zero

By Stephanie Holmes-Winton | June 30, 2014 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
2 min read

Each week, we look at the ABCs of cash flow planning — and today, we come to the end of the alphabet.

Z is for Zero

It’s appropriate to use zero as my final term for this series because there’s absolutely no reason to avoid offering cash flow management services. Doing so will enhance your practice and client relationships.

One of the main reasons clients need help with their cash flows is few ever get the sensation of having zero income to work with—even if they’re in debt. In our modern world, items such as credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages and overdraft protection keep people from ever realizing they’re regularly spending more than they’re earning.


Your job is to help clients acknowledge there’s a problem and then encourage them to better control their cash flows. You can help them realize their true spending limits by:

  • Taking away their safety nets. Clients should use different bank accounts to cover their non-discretionary (mortgage and bill payments) and discretionary expenses. That way, they’ll have a better sense of their spending limits. If they’re overspending on items such as entertainment, they can try setting their overdraft limit to zero on the latter account. Read: Tips to secure your client’s retirement
  • Suggesting cash allowances. For 30 days, recommend your clients use only cash on all discretionary items they buy, as well as on non-automated expenses such as groceries. Doing so will remind them what it feels like to spend money, especially if they’re buying expensive items. Read: How to protect emergency savings

We can all use reminders of how much we’re spending from time to time. If you encourage your clients to feel zero again, they’ll be prepared to limit themselves in the short term as a way to increase their savings over the long term.

Read: 4 rules for good credit advice

I hope you’ve enjoyed the ABCs cash flow planning series. The key takeaway is cash flow management can be tied to every aspect of financial planning. So, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to improve your services by helping clients control their debts and cash flows.


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Stephanie Holmes-Winton

Stephanie Holmes-Winton is a Halifax based financial services educator/speaker who helps advisors find the money to help their clients fund their financial plans. She is the author of Defusing The Debt Bomb & $pent. Stephanie is also the founder and board chair of the Certified Cash Flow Specialist™ designation program. You can reach Stephanie at or