Financial Planners vs. Financial Therapists

So, how are you doing on those New Year’s Resolutions?  Regretting the commitment to get some financial advice and change your spending habits?  Join the rapidly disappearing crowd outside my door.  Full of resolve in January, we often revert back to our oldFinancial Planners vs Financial Therapistshabits by Feb.1.  So I’ve been thinking about this lately.  Over the years I have talked to countless people who have come to me for financial advice when what they really needed was some therapy.  Feeling good about your relationship with money has to be one of  the most difficult accomplishments for most people.  And therefore one of the hardest behaviors to change.

Here’s where the problem lies:  Most financial advisors are not therapists.  They are motivated and driven by numbers.  Numbers don’t lie (they can be manipulated, but they don’t lie.)  How many times have you heard your financial advisor say “do the math”?  So why do you ignore all those performance metrics and retirement calculations and go out and buy a boat?

Personally, having grown up in a land-locked state, I don’t know why anyone would buy a boat.  But if you want to understand your motivations and really change your relationship with money, it might be time to consider a different kind of financial advice.  It goes by a few different names,  Financial Life Planning, Money Therapy, Money Coaching…but the idea is basically the same.  Understand how you grew up relating to money, be honest about your money habits now, and be realistic about your future.

Now, I am not a Life Planner, Money Coach, or anything more than an old-fashioned CFP (love those numbers!) but I think one of these alternative approaches would help a lot of people out there who can’t get past January – so here’s a list of gurus, books and websites that might provide a lesson or two from the couch:

The Kinder Institute –

George Kinder is probably the most well-known person in this field.  Author of Seven Stages of Money Maturity, he coined the term ” Life Planning” and now trains other financial advisors to be life planners.  If you are not ready to invest in personal counseling sessions, this book might be a good place to start.  Using Buddhist wisdom as its base, it helps you go from the first stage of innocence about money to the last stage of “aloha” or being able to give it away.   While his website, is geared more to the training of financial planners, you can find out more about his approach to “the human side of financial planning” and even find a planner with the “Registered Life Planner” designation.

Mitch Anthony-

Mitch talks about having a “Return on Life” versus Return on Investment with your money.  His motto is “How to Get the Life You Want Out of the Money You Have”.  I like this idea, as it flips the conversation a planner can have with a client on its head.  Instead of asking about what you want for the future, it focuses on where you are today.  There are multiple websites associated with Mr. Anthony, but one worth checking out is where you can get a free profile of your own mentality around retirement.

OnSite –

Based outside of Nashville, TN, Miles Adcox and Julie Norton, co-owners, offer a variety of therapeutic workshops for all that ails you.  Two related to money are Financial Recovery and Healing Money Issues.  The workshops are run by a combination of clinicians and experienced financial planners.  Just going to the horse country where they’re located feels like a start in the right direction.  Check out all their programs at .

The Money Coaching Institute-

A former financial services exec, Deborah  Price now runs the Money Coaching Institute.  Rather than looking at stages of money maturity, she and her coaches focus on identifying and coming to terms with your specific “money type”.  Evidently there are eight and understanding which one you are will help you better manage your finances.  The thing that intrigued me about the Money Coaching Institute is that it has programs for individual and couples coaching.  Because, after all, you are inevitably one money type and your honey is another, usually opposite, type right?   Two books written by Ms Price are Money Magic and Money Therapy.  Her website is

And, as in everything else in  life, the first step to financial well-being  is recognizing when you’ve got a problem…

Photo by:  Alan Cleaver

About the author

Lea Ann Knight, CFP®

Lea Ann is the Principal of Garrison/Knight Financial Planning as well as the creator of the financial literacy site, Financially Fit After 40. She also writes a monthly column as the Money Expert for All You Magazine.

One Comment

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  • Nice article, Lea Ann. As a fellow CFP® professional, I have trained with George Kinder (I’m also an RLP®), Mitch Anthony (and also with his former partner, Carol Anderson of Money Quotient), and I am familiar with the work of Rick Kahler and Ted & Brad Klontz at OnSite. I presently serve as the VP and Director of Continuing Education with The Money Coaching Institute, working closely with Deborah Price.

    For the benefit of your readers, we at the Institute are training Certified Money Coaches in our proprietary process, and also have a continuing education course for financial services, life & executive coaching, and financial counseling professionals. This latter CE course grants 8 hours for those holding credentials of CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, or which are credentialed coaches with the International Coach Federation, or those who are AFCPE Certified professionals (Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education).

    We help professionals to better understand how the active and passive money types of their client, as well as their underlying money belief system, may be causing challenging behaviors and actions regarding money and relationship in which money is an issue. And we help individuals, couples, and now organizations, see how their money types are working in ways which may be contrary to their own and others needs.

    Thank you very much for the mention!

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