Advisors for Couples' Finances
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I'm trying to get organized around a likely divorce in my future - we have kids. We don't have significant assets (other than our house), but I'm thinking a talk with a financial planner would be helpful for me to understand how to plan for the short and longer term. I'm hoping we can go the mediation instead of legal battle route if I can talk my spouse into it, which might give more options to how we divide things, so it'd be nice to talk to someone familiar with both avenues. Ideally this person would be located in or near Berkeley and/or near Bart. Any suggestions most welcome! --Wanting to go into this with eyes open
I have a couple of folks to recommend for your process! My ex and I are divorcing (with kids) and trying to do it in a way that is fair and sane. It's still an unusual road, so there's less support for the collaborative model, but in the end our kids are happier and we can see that once we are through the process, we'll be friends again at some point.
The financial planner is Lisa Schneider and she specializes in finances around divorce. She has been present and lovely around crying fits/frustration, and she is very sharp as a financial advisor as a whole. She is in Walnut Creek/Lafayette, but it's worth the schlep.
If you find yourself looking for someone to act as a mediator and who knows the legalities of divorce, I would suggest Unmani Sarasvati. My ex and I have felt that she has created a good container for the process and handles all the push-back we can give. I don't agree with everything she comes up with and she handles that very gracefully, too. Av
Hello Eyes Open, sorry about your situation. I am an attorney and Berkeley and I know many wonderful financial planners, but for your specific need I recommend Jennifer Napper, a financial planner with MetLife. She supports many people post-divorce, so she's a good source for understanding the way from here to there. You can reach Jennifer at: jnapper [at] metlife.com, and read about her at www.jennifernapper.com. Good luck. Scott
Financial Planning for Divorce - I am a divorce mediator in Berkeley. I often send my clients to work with financial planners for the exact reasons you mentioned: to consider options and generate a plan. I can recommend Lisa Schneider, 415-287-7807, www.divorceplanningservices.com, Natalie Leininger, 510- 728-3578, www.llfinancial.com, or Susan Campbell, 415-439-8811, www.bvfinancialresources.com. The information you gather will help you be well prepared for the steps ahead of you to finalize your divorce. Best of luck! Camille
I am in the middle of a divorce. Well, hopefully soon at the end of all the hard stuff and close to signing a Marital Settlement Agreement. We have sold our house and once we finish up a few things, I will have my equity and will want to work with a financial planner to help me plan my future. I will be 57 years old in in a few months and have a freshman in high school. I want to be able to plan accordingly (I will be getting child/spousal support) to be able to survive on my own and eventually retire, God willing. Would really prefer someone in Contra Costa County, but I'm open to all recommendations. Thanks!
Russ Singer is a great financial planner in Walnut Creek. You can see his info here: http://www.russ- singer.com/ a dad in Berkeley
I need a financial therapist, of sorts. I am going to be trying to speak frankly with my brothers about their overuse of our elderly mother's finances, and need to clarify my own feelings before I speak to them. Of the four adult children in our family, I am the only one with a financially self-sustaining lifestyle. The other three adult kids are all still heavily dependent on our parents' money. We have a financial advisor to work with, but I need to speak with a financially- oriented therapist who can help me work with my feelings about the fact that my own immediate family has a significantly higher income than my siblings and how that affects my sense of what I 'deserve' from my parents inheritance. There must be therapists out there who are particularly skilled in talking about financial issues. Thanks. Conflicted
Karen McCall is a financial therapist with a great reputation. Her email is karen [at] financialrecovery.com. Good luck. Diana
Diane Swirsky, Ph.D. could be a great match for you. She is a very experienced psychologist who is not afraid to talk about the kind of details you may want to address. She will also help you think about the bigger picture of family dynamics. Her number is (510) 444-5458. Anon
Try Paul Minsky, PhD. He does psychotherapy and has taught classes about the Psychology of Money. After taking his class, I went to see him for individual therapy and he was real helpful. I think he also has/had some degree in financial planning. He has an office on Dwite Way and one on Solano Ave. (510) 524-0700 Good Luck
Marlena Lyons and her partner Jett Psaris are both very good at dealing with money issues. That stated, they are expensive, but very well worth it! http://www.undefendedlove.com/html/sessions_groups.html Good luck!! Hope this helps!!
Kate Levinson specializes in financial issues and therapy. She just wrote a book called Emotional Currency. Website: http://www.emotionalcurrency.com
My husband and I are having a lot of marriage problems and most of it is related to financial matters and communication. I am looking recommendations for a therapist in San Ramon/Dublin/Pleasanton area. If we cannot solve it, we will probably be divorcing and I really want to work out our differences for the sake of our 5 year old son. Thanks in advance. Anon
I was highly recommended Danielle Ray in Rockridge by a dearly trusted source, and I highly recommend her as well. Integrative Financial Counseling (510) 433-9991 http://www.integrativefinancialcounseling.com/Home.html Good luck! family & money health
Recommendations for several posts: Paul Minsky, PhD 510 524-0700 works with couples and individuals and specializes in financial issues. His office is in Berkeley and he's real good! My husband in particular really appreciated his style.
Linda Blackstone, LCSW (925)676-3054 has an office in Berkeley/Oakland border and Concord. She is great with individuals & couples also (doesn't necessarily specialize in financial issues). Both also do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Give them both a call. I've recommended each of them to several people who really liked them. Good Luck
Marriage separation filing--referral for advisor
My husband and I are filing for legal separation asap. We are in agreement for the separation and have 2 children. Logistically, we see eye to eye but need help with processing mostly financial issues. We need to pay our current bills, and forecast our individual budgets for the future. We are on the low income scale and fixed income, however, we own a home and have assets. We have reviewed the separation papers and can file them independently, however, it is our best interest to hire a paralegal, financial advisor and/or mediator to help us determine overall financial situation in a practical manner (debts, assets, future projection, budgeting and fair $ amount for child support.) All refs and/or practical advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
I highly recommend Thompson Advisory Services. My wife and I have been working on our finances with Mr. Thompson for roughly a year now and have found him to be extremely helpful. He has helped us evaluate our budget, investments, insurance policies, taxes, wills, and long-term financial goals. He is also an attourney so I suspect that he'll be doubly useful to you, given your circumstance. He is extremely knowledgeable and is able to explain things in layman's terms so that we understand the implications of our financial decisions. I encourage you to call Mr. Thompson (415-954-7186) and visit his web site ( http://www.thompson-advisory.com ) Bill
I don't know if what I want is commonplace or fantasy, but my partner and I need help reconciling our very different core beliefs and values around money. We don't need just investment or budgeting advice, per se, but help in understanding how we are different and how we can work together to build a workable financial relationship. So we need someone with both financial savvy and communication/negotiation facilitation skills. I loved the 'money scripts' ideas presented in ''The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge'' and that kind of approach would be ideal. Of course, if they have the ability to only support my way as the right way, I won't complain... :). Any ideas? funny with money
Kate Levinson, MFT (practices in the Oakland/Rockridge area) and specializes in issues related to money. She has a private practice and leads workshops. More info here: www.emotionalcurrency.com/ Shira
Keep in mind there is no shortage of financial and life coaches here in the Bay Area who will be more than happy to take your money to coach you on this issue. They are not licensed by the state of California and can do what they want with impunity. I would recommend you find a financial advisor you can work with. I don't recommend a coach. I also recommend Suze Orman's The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. Finally, if you are having relationship problems around money, I recommend you make an appointment with a licensed psychotherapist who does marriage/relationship therapy. Anon
There is a great local team. Try to find some information on their web: http://www.wealthlegacygroup.net/index.php anon
Yes, financial couples therapists do exist. I recommend Anne Watts and Spencer Sherman of Financial Intimacy and Freedom. Their website is http://www.financialintimacy.info/index.html. I know that they are both highly qualified to give you information that is financial savvy as well as assistance in communication, negotiation and facilitation skills. Anne's listening skills and ability to get to the nugget of the issue are superb, Spencer is an expert at helping couples to examine their perceptions of money and how it impedes intimacy. Deborah
there was just a nytimes article about this very topic http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/25/fashion/25money.html?_r=1=3=financial%20therapist=cse
Yes, we are in fact right now seeing someone whom I would describe as a financial couple's therapist. Her name is Kathryn Amenta, and she helps ''people come to terms with the underlying beliefs and money behaviors that cause financial problems.'' She doesn't give investment advice, but she will give you budgeting tools if that's what you need (which it sounds like you don't), but her primary goal is to help you clarify the emotional stuff around finances.
My husband and I have very different approaches to finances - I feel best with a budget, and prefer to be cautious in our spending. My husband is generous and careless about finances, on the one hand, but also very emotionally bound up with spending decisions. We're making some headway on understanding each other's ways of approaching our finances, and also making some joint decisions about what matters to us most.
Her office is near the Glen Park BART station. If you decide to work with her, its best to have at least a couple of face to face meetings, and more can be done by phone. http://www.kathrynamenta.com ...an interesting time to be talking about money, now that we have much less of it!
My spouse and I have been married for 18 years, together for over 20. We have ALWAYS disagreed about finances. I must admit that I'm not great with money. And because my husband completely flips out when he feels we're not managing it properly (read: I'm not managing it properly), we have been having huge arguments that often last several days. I love my husband and I know he loves me, but we can't get through this on our own. We need to meet with a therapist. But the problem is, therapists are expensive and we're just getting by. So, my question is ''can anyone recommend a good, inexpensive therapist near the Berkeley/Oakland Hills?'' We don't want to 'throw in the towel' so to speak, but the wedge keeps getting bigger and bigger. If I didn't think we had an excellent foundation to build on, I wouldn't look for a therapist (expensive or otherwise), I'd be looking for a divorce attorney. We want to make this work
Have you considered working with a financial planner? S/he should be able to help you determine what your priorities are and set up systems to meet those priorities. This might be a more direct way of dealing with the problem than seeing a therapist and just talking about it. financial planner-in-training
In addition to finding a therapist, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Search the web for it. It's a 13-week course that can really help you and your spouse communicate about money better. We watched the classes on DVD while we were dating (weird!). It has helped us so much to be on the same page about finances, but most importantly has helped us understand each other when it comes to money. Emma
My husband and I have been married 22 years. Embarrassingly long to still have so many issues. We have had money disagreements/problems our entire marriage, but we're now in our 50's and this is ridiculous. My gut feeling is I'd like to find someone to look at our money/spending/debt, put us on a budget, have us be accountable to that person. We are completely stuck. Please don't suggest therapy (we already have a second mortgage's worth we're still paying on). We love each other, are staying married, but can't seem to make progess. And we each think the other is ''wrong'' about how to do money. I was a stay at home mom for most of our marriage and let him be in charge. Now that I earn money, it doesn't seem to be much different. And, my husband is an engineer who deals with million dollar budgets so he thinks he knows all there is to know about money. Sigh. Any recommendations/advice appreciated. anon
Call Jonathan DeYoe for a financial advisor who will be able to stay neutral and help you both feel great about your joint decision. He's a great listener who's only goal is to see that you both have the most for your retirement years. He's very sharp and is easy to talk to. His phone number is: (510) 848- 0012. E-mail: jonathan[at]deyoewealthmanagement.com Larry
Hi - I would like to recommend Brandi Bernazzani, she and her husband Vincenzo Scalisi run a small company called IMG Universal out of San Francisco. Don't worry about the distance, they will come to you.
Both of them are extremely knowledgeable in the fields of finance, lending, financial management, small business consulting and real estate. Brandi is the financial manager and she is outstanding. We came to her with the same issues you describe and having just received a small inheritance. We also run a small business. Because we differ in our attitudes about money, I was worried that we would squander what we just received. Plus we really need to start saving for retirement and get out of debt.
Brandi has helped us to sort out, prioritize and fulfill our financial goals, get a handle on our debt and grow our business. She is so reassuring, encouraging and a pleasure to be around. She responds quickly and with very useful information. You can reach them at 415-664-5884. They almost always answer the phone. Their cell is 925-354-3100.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to call me at 510-567-9559. Catherine
A long time ago, my husband and I received a very helpful consultation with a Berkeley woman named Michelle Martin; she was both a MFCC (therapist) and a financial planner. She helped us work out many financial ''issues'' on both an emotional and practical level. She doesn't seem to be around anymore. We would love to find someone like this; traditional therapists really do not have the financial expertise we are seeking; and financial planners do not have the same sensitivity to emotional and interpersonal issues. We would love to find a similar ''combo'' professional who could help us sort through some issues we are currently dealing with. Any recommendations would be welcomed Susan
Hi - I am a Certified Financial Planner who has referred clients to Kathryn Amenta (www.kamenta.com). Although she is a 'financial advisor', she focuses on the behavioral side of financial issues. She works with individuals, couples and families from a counseling perspective to solve money conflicts and problematic money behaviors. I do not believe she provides comprehensive financial planning or investment management. She is more of a 'money therapist' helping people get to the root of and solve their money issues. Hope that helps ~ Julie Asti www.astifinancial.com
My husband and I are would like to untangle and separate our finances. Does anyone have a financial planner they really like? Ideally, we would like someone with alot of experience/knowlege who is clear, kind, focused and goal-oriented. It seems pretty straight forward but I do see where it could get sticky, so I suppose that they should be sensitive too. Also I am assuming knowlege of California family law will be needed. We would appreciate your input.
Untangling the Tangle
I have a financial planner that I really like and that I can trust. His name is Jonathan DeYoe and he's as intelligent as they come. He's at (510)898-0432. He's the best. Larry
The BPN archives have quite a few recommendations, including Cambridge Investment in Berkeley. My neighbor David Dobkin works out of there; he specializes in socially conscious investments as well as your basic financial planning. He's straightforward, plain-spoken, and he's set up several accounts and plans for sweetie and me. Here's his contact info: Phone: (510)549-8275 Fax: (510)649-1622 E-Mail: dmdobkin[at]pacbell.net, Cambridge Investment Research 1510E Walnut St. Berkeley, California 94709-1565 good luck! Betsy
Here's an example of our situation: my husband thinks that we can't afford to do go anywhere and I, without much thought, can decide that we can afford that $10,000 dream vacation. I would like us to find someone who can help us understand exactly where we are financially, how we should plan for the future, and what we can spend in order to enjoy life right now. Is there a financial planner who has the skills of a couples counselor, or vice versa?
head in clouds or maybe not
We have always thought of our friend of 20 years, Lindy Sinclair, as an accountant with the skills of a therapist/counselor (as well as financial advisor). She also happens to be really smart (Mensa member), and friendly, and affordable. Her website is at: www.lindysinclair.com, which also has her contact information. John
From your post, it sounds like either a couples therapist or a financial advisor would be an option. If there are deep-seated issues about money and spending that go beyond whether you have the money to enjoy the things you want, then a therapist is probably a good idea. On the other hand, if you and your husband simply need to get on the same page in terms of your money and spending issues, then a good financial advisor can really help you out -- both in the short-term and in the long- term.
I recommend Rick Prime at Financial Network. Rick is an exceptional listener and can analyze your financial portfolio to help you figure out what you can afford to do in the present and future given your current and expected earnings. He is very diplomatic and equally good at listening to each partner -- much like a couples counselor in his approach. On the other hand, he's very analytical and can put together a long-term financial plan that explains just what your options are in various scenarios, including retirement planning, investing for college, upgrading your living situation and simply enjoying life. He is well-traveled and very diligent about asking about your vacation, travel and recreational goals and incorporating them into his analysis. I think he charges around $1800 to do a full plan, which takes into account your objectives and interests and how you can best save for them. His plans are very detailed and thorough, a really valuable road map in understanding your financial situation. He also manages investments, of course. But it's his personal style and realistic approach that make him really terrific to work with. His phone number is 510/384-1009. His email is primer AT financialnetwork.com. A happy client
My partner and I are looking for a couples counselor, workshop, group or reading material that can help us determine if we are financially compatible. Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville area. Thanks! anon
A book I'd highly recommend to begin this exploration is called How to Stop Fighting About Money & Make Some, by Adriane Berg. It is out of print but available through libraries. Another useful book is Your Money or Your Life, which is in print. Next, I'd caution you about the concept of ''financial compatibility''. Couples don't need to see eye to eye about finances - many couples don't. Rather, they need effective ways for dealing with the inevitable differences. ''Money'' is loaded with meaning, history, and family culture. Getting calm enough to tell one another about these textured relationships with money is an important step. LF
Paul Minsky, Phd is a licensed psychologist who specializes in the psychology of money, working specifically with couples who have money issues. He has recommended many books that are in ''layman terms''. His phone number is (510) 524-0700. good luck
I'd like to know if there are any therapists in the east bay that specialize in counseling couples on financial matters. Ideally the person would be able to handle a garden variety of marital issues, but have specific expertise in they area of spending behaviors. Looking for someone who could give very practical advice on how to approach money responsibly while dealing with the causes of current, not-so-responsible, behaviors. Open to hearing recommendations from people who have undergone this kind of therapy, or from therpists themselves who specialize in this. Thanks.
Jill Lebeau is a great therapist and does wonders with couples counseling. I am and acupuncturist and have referred many people to her and have seen her myself. She has an excellent way of getting to the point fast and helping people move through issues quickly. her number is 849-1010. Maureen