I need a cross between a financial advisor and a therapist.
July 26, 2014 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Having lived in the Bay Area "bubble" for many years, being reasonably (but not enormously) successful, and coming into middle age, I find myself more and more confused by the economic and social realities of how things are. I need a guide.

So, the basics are covered. I have a loving family, a reasonable degree of sanity, my health issues are mostly under control, we have stable and affordable housing, transportation, school, savings. Life is, by all external markers, good.

But after receiving a substantial raise and some new responsibilities at work and my partner taking on a new, high-paying position at the same time, I feel like we've been stretched too thin. Despite the amount of money we're making, I feel like we don't have time to enjoy it, and our options for making our lives better seem highly constricted by the locations of our jobs, our house, schools, and economic changes in the Bay Area that make housing or location changes wrought with financial peril. Despite having a number of close friends, they are scattered across the country, and due to the realities of housing in the Bay Area, many of our family's local friends have moved to where it's a long trip to see them. I'm getting older in what feels like a young person's game. I'm feeling isolated.

Now, I'm completely aware that, as a whole, I'm in a pretty lucky situation. But there's starting to be a genuine emotional toll from the things I describe above, and I want to make sure that I get off what is starting to seem like the road to burnout.

I'd like someone objective to talk to, to look at my situation, my work and my finances, and have a discussion about things to do to make things better now, things to do to make things better in the future. The question is who.

My partner and I do have discussions about these issues, but given that we share similar concerns and circumstances, we're largely in the same boat as far as what I've described above. It's hard to talk about these kinds of economic issues with our friends or family, many of whom are underemployed or outside of the Bay Area.

I think it may be time to speak with a professional. However, there's a social and emotional component that reaches deeper than a financial advisor (and while we're now making extremely good salaries, we have nowhere near the wealth of those cashing out stock options or who would require elite "family office" type guidance). My concerns are largely based on external factors, so a conventional therapist or psychologist isn't the right thing, nor do I want or need medication. A life coach doesn't seem like the right thing either, as I've had enough professional and personal development for two lifetimes, and my brief experience with some life coaches has been a lot of Meyers-Briggs hoodoo. My partner and I are engaged in socially responsible careers and pursuits, and I am not a member of a faith, so I am looking for purely secular guidance.

Who can I talk with?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly? I think a good place to start would be to write another anonymous Ask Metafilter question about the precise problems you feel you need to fix.
posted by escabeche at 7:43 PM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

My guess is that any therapist you find in the Bay Area will have a fair amount of experience and expertise in problems like yours. I'd start there.
posted by supercres at 7:45 PM on July 26, 2014

I don't understand why you think a therapist is not the right thing. What you have described is *exactly* the kind of thing a therapist can help you with.
posted by mlis at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think this qualifies as what therapists would call a "life transition." Many therapists work with life transitions, and most modern therapists help clients with external factors in general -- the idea that therapy focuses solely on the inner psyche is an older model of therapy.
posted by jaguar at 8:59 PM on July 26, 2014

It sounds like your problems are mostly situational (and completely understandable!). It sounds like what you'd like is less stress and greater connection with friends and family; makes total sense! And, it seems you and your partner are on the same page. Do you really need a third party to assess the problem? You could probably do a less stressful version of your job somewhere else, maybe in another part of the country, where, say, a couple of friends might be. I'd think the person to talk to would be a recruiter, really.

(My personal advice fwiw would be to take a year to earn more stripes at this job, save hard, and think about where you could go. And to be kind to yourselves in the meantime - relaxation wherever you can get it, self-care, visits with friends on long weekends. But yeah, recruiter.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:08 PM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here GoodTherapy.org's list of therapists in San Francisco who list "Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions" as something they treat. You can search for other areas on the site's Advanced Search. (GoodTherapy.org requires that listed therapists "describe their therapy and counseling as empowering, non-pathologizing, and collaborative," so they're unlikely to try to turn your issues into some sort of intrapersonal pathology.)
posted by jaguar at 9:09 PM on July 26, 2014

It's not a person to talk to, but I believe the issues your struggling with are discussed in the book Your Money or Your Life.
posted by alms at 9:18 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

The art of simple (used to be simple mom and grew) is about that question. Parts are sentimental but on the whole they have a good collection of resources and articles on building a life that is simple in that it is largely focused on family and happiness (by process and experience, not through owning stuff or achieving external goals). I would browse and see what resonates with you, and email them for a referral to someone like a life coach but who gets what you're aiming for.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:37 PM on July 26, 2014

There is no reason why you can't discuss some of this with a financial planner. I've had two now and have discussed things quite similar to what you describe. The first one, I didn't stay with long for unrelated reasons but halfway through our first session-- which lasted two hours-- I said, "This is getting to be a little more like marriage counseling than financial planning." She said, well, this stuff is relevant. With me it was marriage and family relationships and their impact on financial health; for you it seems like it is career goals but maybe you should interview someone.
posted by BibiRose at 6:35 AM on July 27, 2014

It is not clear what you want out of talking to someone. Your specific goal in the middle is about planning to make your immediate life better and future. Therapists do not do this; the closest I can think of is a life coach.
posted by rr at 8:31 AM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are absolutely specific people for this task! The term is financial advisor rather than financial planner. Those guys work both more holistically (helping to define goals an investment planner would find small time, like buying a house) and also on a more basic level (such as uncovering spending habits or budgeting). Here is one in San Francisco. Learnvest has been really helpful to me and my husband in this regard. We went from being very, very poor to having a solid $techindustry income in $westcoastcity and had some similar lifestyle creep. Learnvest democratizing as a financial advisor service and they have several choices for planning that are more and less existentially oriented (you'd probably be looking at the "five year" plan).

There are also coach-y type people who specialize in financial/money/life planning (and financial planners who do coach-y type stuff). Dave Ramsey has a whole list of people and there's also (a friend of mine who is a business owner speaks highly of him, though I haven't checked him out) Ramit Sethi.
posted by sweltering at 9:19 AM on July 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's also possible to see more than one professional at a time. I'm guessing a financial advisor would be most helpful if your concern is how the finances are going to work; a therapist if your concern is how your emotional life and relationships are going to work. If they seem of equal concern, maybe pick one focus first and then add the other type of professional if you're not quite getting help with the full picture.
posted by jaguar at 10:32 AM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I live in your area and am likely in your similar life situation. It seems very much a Bay Area thing but with every other friend and family here we know, this is the major point of conversation.

Housing prices, nannies, private vs public schools, retirement options, family vacations (do you take a nanny with?) housekeepers, good accountants, grocery delivery services, farmers markets, garderners, caterers, farm to table restaurants etc...

We call these "California Problems". We can't talk about them with anyone who doesn't live here because the day to day expenses and reality are so far out of touch with the rest of the world but are very much a part of the everyday middle class* here.

*would likely be very upper middle to rich elsewhere but it's not the same. It just isn't.

It seems that everyone I know (ourselves included) have some type of help to make happy family time possible.

So my answer to your question is to look around you. Pretty much all your coworkers and local acquaintances are in the same boat. My husbands work and our neighborhood both have message boards (like micro ask MeFi) just to discuss these issues with each other.

Finally, the basics here seem to be weekly/biweekly cleaners, a once weekly nanny for date night (often week nights) who will also wash and put away the kids laundry after bedtime or do misc errands, instacart/google shopping for groceries, an accountant/financial planner (though some people enjoy geeking out on the FP part themselves) and a "yard guy".

Sometimes though it's the commute that is truly killing you so keeping and renting out your house while you RENT a new place where you would rather be can be the real answer.

Good luck, I hope you find what you need.
posted by saradarlin at 3:43 PM on July 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

« Older B&Bs or Inns in Charleston, SC?   |   Places outside the US that have a "gym culture"... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.