Hudson Valley Money Experts Offer Tips for Financial Health
by Wendy Kagan
The last thing you might expect a financial mentor to do is begin a meeting with meditation. Money doesn't exactly feel like Zen territory. Or does it? My recent introductory session with financial wellness coach Joanne Leffeld starts with eyes closed, sitting tall in my chair, hands light on my lap. "Take a couple of deep, cleansing breaths and make sure both feet are grounded on the earth," she says. "If there's any tension, release it now." The peaceful entrée seems antithetical to what is to come: a journey with money and finances, which can make any heart beat faster and more anxiously.
Yet it's the perfect place to begin. Leffeld, a self-titled "moola doula" who helps people give birth to a better relationship with money, is a former certified financial planner and erstwhile yoga teacher, and she draws from both backgrounds to help people create a new comfort level with finances. It is a terrain that often frightens people: Money almost always ranks as the top stressor for Americans in opinion polls—the number one thing that strains marriages and keeps people up at night. "Money is one of those subjects that gets people so agitated, so overwhelmed, so full of shame, fear—you name it," says Leffeld, who is based in Rhinebeck and also offers sessions across the river at Woodstock Healing Arts. "It has such negative associations, yet it's only an energy. It's like the monster under the bed, but when you shine a flashlight on it you realize it's just a tiny bug..."