Let’s talk money.
If you are like most people, especially women, that statement probably makes you cringe. When it comes to money and finances, it is still a very taboo topic and not something we willingly talk about with others. However, money is something we all have to deal with, whether you have it or you don’t. Every single one of us will be responsible for our finances at one point or another, so why are we so scared to talk about it?
Talking about money can bring up a lot of emotions for people and because we are taught not to discuss money, those emotions, more often than not, never get dealt with. Enter Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, a Financial Therapist whose goal is to help deal with the emotional side of money and finances.
Read on to see how Lindsay became the first Financial Therapist in Michigan, why she choose this path and how she is helping women specifically become more confident when it comes to talking about their finances.
Name: Lindsay Bryan-Podvin
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
How did your career as a Financial Therapist start?
I have been in the world of therapy and social work for about 8 years now and after working with people from all different walks of life, I noticed one thing that kept coming up and that was money. At the time, I didn’t have any specific training dealing with money. I could help them with bill collections, with grants or with getting them signed up for food stamps, but aside from that there wasn’t really anything I could do, so I started to seek out training on my own.
I’ve always been interested in personal finance, but didn’t know there was an overlap in finance and therapy until I came across these different organizations. These organizations have started to train people, whether they are therapists, counselors, or CPA’s, on a multi-disciplinary path. I started to follow both Financial Social Work and the Financial Therapy Association and then in May of 2018 I got certified in Financial Social Work.
Why Financial Therapy over traditional therapy?
I started in traditional therapy and a good chunk of my clientele is still traditional therapy patients, but I saw that money just kept coming up. As therapists, we can get specialty training in so many different areas, but we don’t get specialty training in money. No matter who you are, money is a part of your life. Not everyone will experience trauma, but everyone will have money and money issues, for better or for worse.
For those of us that don’t know, what exactly is Financial Therapy? And how does it differ from working with a Financial Planner?
A financial therapist will help you with the psychological and emotional side of money whereas a financial planer should help you with designing a plan for your future.
I can and will sit down with people, take a look at their budget and help them see how their spending habits are not aligning with their values, but I do not advise them. Sometimes my role is in educating people on what numbers really are and about what the different topics are. It’s common for me to sit down with someone and go over a tax return. Not because I’m a tax expert, but because I can explain to them what each line means. I’m providing them with the education piece rather than the planning piece. I’m not a financial planner, so I’m not selling investments or insurance.
“Not everyone will experience trauma, but everyone will deal with money
and money issues, for better or for worse.”
What does working with a Financial Therapist look like?
Financial Therapy is a much more interactive form of therapy than traditional talk therapy. There is still a lot of the traditional talk therapy in what I do, but it is bit more transparent. I literally look at people’s budgets and you have to be incredibly vulnerable to whip that out and show me what you are earning, what you are spending and on what. For some people, we may never even look at their finances in terms of dollars, but rather in terms of percentages because they are too anxious to show me the exact numbers.
It’s not just about the money though. A big part of Financial Therapy is the emotions and asking what physical sensations come up when I ask you about your tax returns. What kind of emotions come up when I ask you how you and your partner split the bills. So I am coming at from both angles and it is very interactive.
Why did you decide to focus your Financial Therapy practice specifically on women and their relationship with money?
There are so many reasons! I chose women because we still have such a long way to go when it comes to money. In understanding our money and being empowered by our money. I think on a macro level, our society has come a long way in pointing out the inequality in payment and pointing out the discrepancies in women leaving for maternity leave and the emotional labor that goes into taking care of a home and raising children, but we haven’t done a good job, in my opinion, of teaching women how to do it themselves when it comes to managing their household income or their own personal finances. So to me it felt like we are really banging the drum on the big issue, but how does that impact a woman in her own life?
There is also the issue of talking down to women, or fluffing, personal finances. On one hand, a lot of personal finance jargon is a little bit intimidating, but on the other hand, we are not too dumb to understand it. I want to make sure I am using the same language that your CPA, tax advisor or financial planner is using. Making sure women understand all of that is so so important to me.
What do you hope women walk away with after working with you?
I hope they feel strong, empowered and comfortable with their money. Comfortable in whatever sense that means to them. Whether it’s understanding terminology, feeling safe and secure with their future or setting boundaries with their money. I just want women to feel as if they get it.
“On one hand, a lot of personal finance jargon is a little bit intimidating,
but on the other hand, we are not too dumb to understand it.”
And lastly….how would you describe your 30s thus far?
Oh my gosh. I love my 30s. I have found that it is not a cliche when women say they finally feel confident in their 30s or that they feel like they have found their voice. There is so much truth to that. You are close enough to your 20s to see all the learning you did, but you are also close enough to 40 to see what the next decade holds. I’m taking more risks, feeling more confident and I’m just so happy to be in my 30s.