What is Financial Life Planning?!
I feel your pain.
It can be really challenging to understand if the services you're reading about online will truly help you solve your problems. And the world of financial advice can be especially confusing and obscure.
I'm not a fan ambiguity and uncertainty. Especially when I'm being asked to part with my hard-earned money. I'm guessing you might feel the same.
This page is my attempt to clear up the ambiguity around what financial life planning actually is. I do that by answering three questions.
First, WHO I help. Second, WHAT I help them with. And third, HOW I offer that help.
After reading the answers to these questions, I believe you'll know whether what I'm offering is a good fit.
Who I Help
The services I offer are specifically tailored to licensed mental health practitioners. I use the term therapist, or psychotherapist, but I mean that to include any licensed mental health professional, including social workers, counselors and psychologists.
What about other professionals?
If you help clients with personal growth and development, you may also find my services to be a good fit. Some therapists choose to expand their services to include coaching, online coursework, business consulting or writing. For that reason, my services are well suited for other professionals who offer their expertise through these channels.
What I Help With
You might find that the financial challenges you face evolve over the course of your career. For that reason, I've organized the challenges I help clients overcome into four career stages. If any of these resonate with you, my services might be a good fit!
An exhaustive overview of the challenges I help clients address is found on the Financial Planning Focus Areas page.
Click on the Headings Below for Detailed Descriptions
So Much Debt...
Most therapists end up with student loans. Having over $100,000 in loans isn't the exception - it's the rule. So, relax - you're in good company.
And student loans typically take 10+ years to pay off (emphasis on the plus). You may look at your student loan balance with some sense of trepidation. And I get it... it's not fun.
The good news is that whether you're in private practice or working for an agency, there are good strategies to ease the burden of student loan repayment. You won't be saddled with this debt forever. You may even be able to have some of the balance forgiven (and not just if you're working in public service).
You've Gotten Poor Advice
You may have been told to go into forbearance. Or perhaps you've been told to simply hunker down and pay your loans off as quickly as possible. If these are the only two recommendations you've heard, the advice you've received incomplete (at best).
Traditional debt management strategies are often poor tools to manage student loan debt. Student loans are unique and require knowledge of the special set of tools available to manage them. There are many different Income Driven Repayment options and associated forgiveness policies. But they are complex and must be carefully considered within the context of your overall financial circumstances.
I've completed extensive continuing education to learn all the nuances of federal student loan debt. And I offer a student loan project to help you determine the best course of action. Effectively managing student loan debt is also part of the ongoing financial life planning service.
Are you newly licensed, about to become licensed or have you recently started your own private practice? If so, congrats! 🎉
This is an exciting time, and also one where the financial decisions come at your fast and furious.
So Many Questions...
Getting your practice off the ground raises a myriad of issues. How many sessions do you want to hold in an average week? What is the right session rate and pricing policies? What's the best way to perform bookkeeping? Would you benefit from establishing an LLC or Professional Corporation? How do you plan for self-employment taxes? What does a reasonable budget for your practice look like? How do you set up your internal processes to be both efficient and HIPAA compliant?
As your practice fills, you may find yourself making more money than you have in years - or maybe ever! As you move toward that, you want to make sure you're handling your financial abundance in the right way. You might wonder if you're managing your finances as intentionally and thoughtfully as you'd like. And if you're setting yourself up for long-term financial success. You may be wondering how much to save, how to invest, and what type of retirement plan you could establish. How should you balance savings versus paying off debt? And oh yah, that student loan debt...
Life is Happening!
And guess what? Outside of your private practice, life continues to happen! You might be considering big life changes with financial implications: marriage, having children, buying a house, or even "simply" buying a car. Do you need life insurance, disability insurance or some other form of business insurance you've never even heard of?!
Helping you answer these questions in a way that fits your life is what I love to do.
Once your private practice has been successfully up and running for a few years, you've gotten over that initial hurdle of wondering if this crazy dream of yours is going to work. And now you might be wondering how to manage your financial world intentionally and set yourself up for long-term success.
Reflecting on Your Practice
Within your practice, you might be wondering how to make sure things are operating as efficiently and profitably as possible. You might have clients at several different rates. You may wonder what to do about that and how to navigate rate increases. You might also be wondering how you can better minimize the taxes you're paying. Or you might be considering establishing a retirement plan. Do you wonder if you should establish an LLC or Professional Corporation? Or if you should draft a professional will?
Maybe it's also time to evaluate your workload and explore any sense of burnout. Are you seeing too many clients in an average week? Too few? Do you want to expand beyond traditional therapy, and what would the financial implications of that be. Perhaps you'd like to hire other clinicians to work in your practice, or supervise pre-licensed therapists.
And Oh By the Way You Have a Personal Life...
In your personal life, you may also be wondering if you're saving enough and investing appropriately for your goals, including retirement. Should you manage your student loans differently now that you're more established in your career? What could you do to prepare for the arrival of a child, or plan for your children's educational expenses.
Perhaps you're wondering how to best plan for a home purchase. Or considering refinancing your existing mortgage and wondering if now is a good time. Perhaps you have some credit card debt that's weighing on you.
Do you need life insurance, disability insurance or some other form of business insurance you've never even heard of?!
You might even have received an inheritance which you wonder how you should best manage.
Helping clients answer these questions is literally what can get me so excited I sometimes have trouble sleeping.
Evolving Professional Life
If you're an established clinician, you might be considering next steps beyond private practice. Perhaps you're wondering what retirement looks like, and if you're financially prepared to begin stepping away from earning money. Or perhaps you'd like to share your professional gifts in a different way. Maybe coaching, creating coursework, writing a book, or becoming a speaker are calling to you. You might even be considering selling your practice. And understanding the financial implication of any (or many!) of these options is complex.
Evolving Personal Life
You want to make sure you're handling finances thoughtfully and with intention. You want to make sure you continue to set yourself and your family up for long-term financial stability. Are your saving and investing plans the right ones for you? You may be wondering how to finally rid your self of any student loan debt.
As you contemplate moving beyond private practice, the services I offer can help you navigate your life with greater ease and confidence.
How I Help
There are a number of different ways I could help you navigate these challenges.
I believe the real power of financial planning is found in ongoing, collaborative work. And I also understand that sometimes more focused work is a better fit.
Life circumstances change. Your private practice evolves. And managing your finances isn’t always so much about the work itself, but rather the emotion around that work. Having a trusted partner to guide you through financial matters is invaluable.
Ongoing financial life planning services are always tailored to fit you - where you are in life and in your private practice journey.
Ongoing planning isn't always the right fit. I offer limited-scope project engagements, which help you navigate a particular challenge. This can also be a great way to see what it would be like to work with me on an ongoing basis.
Coaching is the most self-led option. I'll provide you educational resources and worksheets to help you chart your own financial course.
Coaching can be done either one-on-one or through Mastermind groups. I occasionally organize groups myself and if you have an existing group looking for a bit of financial guidance, I'd love to chat with you!
Do I Really NEED a Financial Planner?
Do you absolutely need a financial planner to successfully address these challenges? Of course not. You can create and manage your financial plan on your own.
As a financial planner I act as a facilitator. And what does a facilitator do? A facilitator helps you along your journey by making things happen more effectively, more quickly and with less friction.
Do I have all the perfect and easy answers? Nope. But I will provide you better tools and greater knowledge to help you make decisions best suited for you and your life.
Looking for some DIY resources to get started on your own? Check out my free Guide to Financial Planning for Therapists. Click here to access!
Qualities Cultivated in the Process of Financial Life Planning
Tending to our finances is a critical element of self-care. For that reason, I practice Financial Life Planning the same way Pema Chödrön suggests we practice meditation: by being gentle, precise and open.
We gently look at your financial life, letting go of any shame or judgment you might be holding
We look with precision, being very clear about what is going right and what might need some improvement.
Finally, we are open to whatever comes up, both in terms of content and emotion. Openness also refers to the willingness to let go: working to let go of limiting beliefs or behaviors which no longer serve you.