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Financial Therapy: What It Is and How to Know if You Need It

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Whether you’re stressing over paying bills or spending money to make yourself feel better, anxiety and money often go hand in hand. Still, financial advice tends to emphasize numbers and strategies, not the root cause of money concerns.

Financial therapy is a holistic process that enlists both therapeutic and financial methods to help you transform your relationship with money. Here’s how to tell whether or not it might be the right move for you.

What is financial therapy?

The Financial Therapy Association was born out of the 2008 financial crisis, which left many Americans feeling totally hopeless and out of control with their money — a kind of trauma that went deeper than traditional financial counseling could heal. Researchers and practitioners from both the mental health and business fields teamed up shortly after the crash to create a unique, new practice that combines the best aspects of both disciplines.

By late 2009, the Financial Therapy Association, or FTA, was officially recognized as a nonprofit corporation, and the group held its first annual conference in September of 2010. Today, the association offers a variety of tools for both consumers and professionals looking to participate in this unique practice, and also offers a searchable database for finding financial therapists by state.

The association defines financial therapy as “a process informed by both therapeutic and financial competencies that helps people think, feel and behave differently with money to improve overall wellbeing through evidence-based practices and interventions.”

In short, just like regular therapy, it helps you get your head on straight — except in this case, it’s particularly concerned with financial matters. Many financial therapists are also licensed family or marriage counselors, so you can take it on solo or with a partner.

5 signs you need a financial therapist

So, how can you tell if financial therapy is right for you?

Chances are, almost anyone could benefit from professional coaching… but if these scenarios sound familiar, you might want to take finding professional help more seriously.

1. Your relationships are strained, and money’s always the reason. If you’re constantly fighting with your spouse (or other relatives or family members) about money matters, a financial therapist can help you find productive ways to navigate your relationships.

2. You’re depressed or anxious about your money in a way that’s impacting your wellbeing. While money can be a stressful topic for anyone from time to time, if it’s ruling your life, a therapist can help you find new behavioral patterns. Whether it’s the emotional toll of debt or the stress of saving a workable nest egg, a financial therapist can offer both mental and monetary tactics to help you tackle the problem.

3. You know the steps you need to take, but can’t quite seem to make them happen. Whether it’s balancing your budget or paying down debt, if you can’t make your behavior match your financial plan, a financial therapist could have the answer.

4. You find yourself lying about money and hiding your excessive or emotional spending. These kinds of behaviors can wreak havoc on your wallet, not to mention your relationships, and may be based in compulsion. A financial therapist can help you develop alternative relaxation tactics so you can overcome your emotional splurges without doing damage to your nest egg.

5. Thinking about your financial future is leading to unexpected emotions or creating family tension. As important as estate planning may be, it can also be a difficult and emotional experience. After all, it means thinking seriously about the reality of your own death. And divvying up your stuff can lead to difficult conversations, particularly if you have a blended family or strained relationships. A financial therapist can help you work through all that emotional baggage and offer helpful communication tactics.

Do you need a financial therapist and a financial advisor?

There’s no specific set of certifications or degrees a professional must have to be a member of the Financial Therapy Association — so each individual counselor is just that: an individual. He or she may lean more heavily toward one side of the professional aisle or the other, and finding the right fit could take some trial and error.

For instance, if you’re mostly concerned with the how-to part of financial advisement, like figuring out the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA or the best way to tackle credit card debt, a plain-old financial advisor can probably help you, but so could a financial therapist who works primarily as an advisor or wealth management professional.

On the other hand, if you’re really digging into the emotional side of your financial landscape, finding a financial therapist who is a mental health professional first can help you tackle those struggles, while also laying the framework for solid monetary planning and behavior down the line. A financial therapist who identifies more strongly with the clinical counselling part of their job title may also be able to help you in other aspects of your mental health, if you’re struggling with matters beyond your money.

The bottom line is, there’s no one approach that’s right for everyone — and, just like dating, you’ll definitely want to shop around. Whether you hire a financial therapist, a financial advisor or both, when you’re talking about people who are going to advise you on matters as important as your financial future, getting along well is key. It’s worth making several calls and sitting through a few introductory interviews to make sure you’ve found a good fit.

How to find a financial therapist

If financial therapy sounds like it might be a fit for you, there are some wonderful resources available from the Financial Therapy Association to help you find and hire a professional. For instance, it offers a great database of financial therapists that’s searchable by both name and state.

Of course, since it’s such a new field, financial therapists are relatively few and far between — and you may find there’s not one in your area. Several states on the list have zero names listed beneath them (so far, anyway).

Fortunately, the internet makes it possible to do financial therapy work at a distance, and many professionals do just that. If you find someone whose credentials, focus and basic methodologies you like, you can reach out to them directly to see if they’d be able to perform therapy via Skype or phone call. You can also check out the specific “at a distance” list available via the FTA database. The association also offers monthly online webinars and other educational tools to start the process on your own if you’re not quite ready to hire a professional.

The bottom line

Financial therapy can be a great way to help alleviate your anxieties and fears about financial matters, or to help you find ways to break money-related habits you just can’t seem to knock out on your own. And as with any type of therapy, seeking out professional help is anything but a sign of weakness. Money touches all of our lives and has a huge impact on our lifestyles, so it makes sense that it’s a wildly emotional topic. So if financial therapy sounds like it might be a fit for you, don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out. If anything, recognizing you need help makes you that much stronger — and both your brain and your bank account will thank you for it.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jamie Cattanach
Jamie Cattanach |

Jamie Cattanach is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here

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Investing

Stash Review 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Stash is an online, mobile-optimized brokerage that facilitates investments in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as well as individual Stocks. It allows users to start with a low opening investment ($5) and carries relatively low account fees of $1 to $2 per month or 0.25% of assets under management, depending on the type of account you open and the balance it carries.

Stash is marketed toward beginning investors who may not have much capital to invest upfront or aren’t sure where to start. It offers a host of educational materials and programs, such as Stash Coach, to help users learn more about investing as they go, and it groups asset options into themed funds based on specified issues and concepts. (For example, you might choose a fund whose participants are working toward a greener world or who support equality in the workplace.)

However, the app’s ease of use and quick-start accessibility are counterbalanced by a relatively small suite of features and functionality, especially compared to full-service brokerages.

Stash
Visit StashSecuredon Stash’s secure site
The bottom line: Stash can help new investors start building their nest egg quickly, easily and conveniently.

  • It’s user-friendly and mobile-optimized.
  • Just $5 gets you started.
  • Themed funds allow you to invest in your values.

Who should consider Stash?

As a user-friendly robo-advisor with low minimum opening requirements, Stash is built primarily for new investors who may not be very familiar with the stock market. The program allows you to open an account with as little as $5, automate future deposits to boost growth and learn more about asset allocation (and investment in general) as you go. You’ll also be able to specify your account type and allocate your funds based on your goals and values.

Stash carries relatively low management fees, especially for those who carry account balances of at least $5,000. However, it doesn’t offer all the functionality or customizability you might find with a larger brokerage. Users must choose from a relatively short list of investment account types: personal taxable accounts, Roth IRA or Traditional IRAs, and custodial accounts.

Stash fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $5
Management fees
  • $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000 deposited
  • 0.25% annual fee for accounts with $5,000 or more deposited
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $75 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, Email

Strengths of Stash

If you’re looking to get started with investing as quickly and painlessly as possible, Stash’s user-friendly interface and low minimum opening requirement make it easy — even if you don’t know much about the market.

  • Low startup investment requirement: You can get started with Stash with a minimum investment of only $5, which may make investing accessible to those without much discretionary cash on hand. Furthermore, account management fees are only 0.25% for those with $5,000 or more in their Stash accounts or a flat $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000. Retirement accounts are $2 per month, but they’re free for users under the age of 25.
  • Ease of use and educational opportunities: Stash offers a clean, simple, user-friendly interface on its browser and app versions, and apps are available for both Android and iOS. Participating in themed funds allows you to confidently invest in your values without doing heavy manual research. User tools like Stash Coach and a comprehensive Q&A make it easy to wrap your head around new investing concepts.
  • Automation: The best way to take advantage of the power of compound interest is to keep, well, stashing away what you can — even if it’s only a little bit. Stash makes this process simple with its automatic deposits, which can be as low as $5 and scheduled to occur on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.
  • Customer service is easily accessible: While Stash’s searchable Q&A hosts a heap of great content that may be able to help you find answers to your questions on your own, you also can easily reach out to a customer service agent for personalized assistance. Both a telephone number (800-205-5164) and an email address ([email protected]) are listed, and you can expect the team to respond to your issue within 24 business hours. (Author’s note: I sent a test email to customer service on a Saturday afternoon and received a reply within an hour.)

Drawbacks of Stash

Although Stash offers a lot of attractive features — especially for those new to investing — the platform does have a couple of limitations that may give advanced savers pause.

  • Relatively few account options: Stash offers a variety of investment account options, including Individual taxable accounts and retirement accounts (Roth IRA and Traditional IRA). Stash also offers custodial accounts to help parents save for their children’s education. However, Stash does not offer 529 Plans or more advanced retirement options like solo 401(k)s, SEP IRAs or SIMPLE IRAs. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and parents hoping to take advantage of the unique tax benefits of a 529 might want to consider a more advanced brokerage for access to these investment accounts.
  • High fee ratio on low-balance accounts: Although Stash charges a flat rate of just $1 per month  (or $2 for retirement accounts), its seemingly low fees are actually pricier for those with low account balances. For instance, if you’re investing only $5 per week (or $20 per month), that $1 fee represents 5% of your assets under management. Of course, investing more will essentially lower this figure. For example, if you stay at the same investment rate of $5 per week, you’ll have stashed $260 in a year’s time ($5 x 52 calendar weeks = $260), which means the $1 fee is less than 1% of your assets under management, not counting interest, and will continue to diminish with time.

Is Stash safe?

Like any investment, your Stash account carries some risk. Market volatility can lead to losses as well as gains. With that being said, there are still plenty of reasons to feel confident in Stash’s ability to manage your assets.

Stash has more than $400 million in assets under management and is trusted by over 2 million Americans. It’s listed as a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and funds managed by Stash are held by a third-party custodian — Apex Clearing — which is an SIPC member and regulated by FINRA.

Final thoughts

For new investors hoping to get started as quickly and easily as possible, Stash offers a fairly customizable and eminently user-friendly option. There are, however, other options worth considering, including the following:

  • Acorns offers a similar model to Stash but allows users to link their main spending account and round up transactions, investing the spare change.
  • Betterment offers a similarly user-friendly, mobile-optimized experience but gives users access to professional financial planning and portfolio management.

Finally, full-service brokerages like Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch or discount brokerages like TD Ameritrade may allow investors more specific control over their portfolios in addition to providing professional financial advice and services. However, these accounts generally carry higher fees and are less straightforward to open and manage.

Open a Stash accountSecured
on Stash’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jamie Cattanach
Jamie Cattanach |

Jamie Cattanach is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here

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News

The 10 Best Apps For Selling Your Stuff

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Who among us hasn’t squealed in delight at the adorable, impeccable figure of Marie Kondo, blithely helping borderline hoarders reorganize their lives? (Seriously, if you have not yet, go watch now. It is an instant mood boost.) If the newest Netflix zeitgeist has you inspired to do some decluttering of your own, why not take the opportunity to make a little bit of money while you’re at it?

Here are some of our favorite quick, convenient digital sales apps to help you turn that potential trash into treasure.

Poshmark

For many, our closets are our biggest junk-compiling culprits. It’s just so easy to let old clothes languish — or to forget about that new sweater with the tags still on it.

If you’re looking to get rid of some high-quality duds that just don’t suit you anymore, Poshmark is a great option. It’s available as an app for both iOS and Android, and it also has a slick browser interface so you can sell gently-used fashion items from literally anywhere.

What makes it great? Listings take less than 60 seconds to set up, especially if you use the in-app photo functionality. Poshmark provides sellers with prepaid shipping labels at no additional cost to you, rolled into the price paid by the buyer. One exception: if your package weighs more than five pounds, you’ll be responsible for overweight costs.

Poshmark also hosts three “Posh Parties” per day: in-app sales events focused around a specific theme or brand. These can boost sales and make the process more fun for both buyers and sellers.

Cost. Poshmark makes money by charging a commission fee against each sale you make, though listing items is totally free. For listings under $15, the commission is a flat $2.95; for those $15 and over, you’ll keep 80% of the sale price.

Letgo

From fashion accessories to used electronics and even vehicles, Letgo helps you sell your old stuff “quickly, safely and locally.” Find it in the App Store or on Google Play.

What makes it great? Letgo takes the hassle of shipping out of the picture, focusing on helping you sell secondhand items within your local neighborhood.

Letgo features a user-friendly listing mechanism, allowing you to photograph your items directly from the app. You can also chat with potential buyers and easily share the listing on your social networks, all through its secure platform.

Cost. Letgo is totally free to use, charging neither a listing fee nor taking a commission.

OfferUp

Another free everything-under-the-sun sales app, OfferUp can be used through your web browser or via mobile app for either iPhone or Android.

What makes it great? Whether you’re selling that old camera to fund an upgrade or looking for a new home for your couch, OfferUp is all about staying local — which means you won’t have to worry about shipping. The app also features an instant messaging system to make it easy to communicate with buyers, as well as ratings, profiles and transaction histories to help keep everything transparent.

Cost. OfferUp is free for both buyers and sellers to use at the basic level, but charges fees for premium, pay-per-use services, like Bump (which bumps your item to the top of the pile) and Promote (which makes your items show up more often).

Mercari

Not super into the idea of meeting up with a local stranger to exchange goods? Mercari makes shipping easy by automatically emailing a label to the seller — and you can list just about anything, from tops to treadmills. You can find it in the App Store for Apple devices or through Google Play for your Android.

What makes it great? This app stands out from the crowd with its diversity of item categories, even including a section for handmade goods. And getting paid as a seller is super simple: Once you have a balance of $2 or more, you can simply request a direct deposit into your checking account.

Cost. Mercari takes a flat 10% fee when you complete a sale.

Tradesy

Another fashion-focused sales platform, Tradesy doesn’t sacrifice security for speed. Although you can set up a listing in just seconds, rest assured that your transaction will be successful thanks to its seller protection guarantee, which covers shipping and return costs. Find it for iOS and Android.

What makes it great? Tradesy’s marketplace is specifically marketed toward women, and it’s filled with the fashion items you covet at affordable prices. To that end, once you make a sale, you can choose to transfer your earnings to a PayPal, debit card or bank account … or just keep them right there on Tradesy to use for your next not-so-costly splurge.

Cost. Though Tradesy doesn’t assess selling fees upfront, it does take a 19.8% commission on items sold for $50 and over. Items that sell for less than that are hit with a $7.50 flat fee. You’ll also pay a 2.9% “Safe Transfer Fee” when you withdraw your earnings.

ThredUP

If you need some motivation to clean out your closet, ThredUP might be just what you’re looking for. Unlike other fashion sales apps, this one’s about as hands-off as possible: All you have to do is fill a bag with clothes and leave it with your mail carrier. ThredUP takes care of the rest.

What makes it great? If the very idea of listing individual items (and then managing those listings) makes your head spin, ThredUP is a great alternative. You just declutter your closet as normal and send off the stuff — in a prepaid bag, no less! — and earn consignments on eligible items.

Unaccepted items are used or recycled, so even if you don’t earn any money, you’re still doing something awesome. And if you happen to have some luxury, designer-brand items to re-home, you’ll earn an extra 10% payout.

Cost. ThredUP keeps a sometimes-significant portion of an item’s selling price, and your actual payout will vary depending on the final sale price of the item. Generally, the more your clothing sells for, the more you’ll earn, up to 90% for the most luxurious, expensive items. Then again, if your piece sells for $15 or less, you’ll only get 5%, so it’s a bit of a give and take.

Decluttr

You know how each time you upgrade to a new smartphone, you stash your old one in the back of your closet for safekeeping?

Yeah, that makes zero sense — especially when you can easily turn it into extra cash by selling it on Decluttr. Ditto for laptops, video game systems and digital media like CDs and DVDs.

What makes it great? Decluttr puts as much money as possible into your pocket, promising up to 33% more than you’d earn reselling your old gear back to your carrier. The shipping is free and insured, so you can rest easy that your tech will make it to the company unharmed — and you can receive your earnings by check, direct deposit or PayPal transfer the very next day.

Cost. Decluttr makes money by reselling your tech at a higher price than it pays you for it, but it’s still free to use on your end. And while you might be able to fetch the same price selling it yourself on, say, Craigslist, it’s a whole lot more work.

Chairish

Moving house? Before you start loading that van, check out Chairish, a digital consignment shop specifically for used and vintage furniture. It’s available in Apple’s App Store or through your regular web browser, but not yet on Google Play — sorry, Android users.

What makes it great? Chairish boosts your items’ ability to sell by touching up your homespun photos, and its buyer verification system means less wasting time with lookie-loos. They also orchestrate shipping for you (which is especially welcome when dealing with bulky furniture items) and quickly allow withdrawals to PayPal after a 48-hour buyer return window.

Cost. It’s free to list items on Chairish, and you’ll keep between 70-80% of the sale price depending on your number of active listings.

5miles

Yes, its name looks like an internet-y version of “smiles” for a reason: 5miles is a digital marketplace that allows you to sell all sorts of items, but also to promote services and even look for jobs. It’s also got a “community” section where you can advertise pets for adoption, want ads, lost-and-found items and yard sales. The app is available for both Apple and Android.

What makes it great? As its name implies, all of the various transactions take place within a five-mile radius of your location. (Well, that’s the default. You can actually expand the filter up to 50 miles, but still, it’s all local.)

Unlike other sell-it apps, 5miles also features a pretty nifty bidding platform called 5miles Dash. Instead of agonizing over a list price, let your potential buyers duke it out — and hopefully push it up — for you!

Cost. In most categories, you’ll get your first five listings free, and then decide between paying a listing fee or monthly membership charge thereafter. For full, up-to-date rate details, see this page.

Vinted

Headquartered in Lithuania, Vinted, another fashion-sales app, has the sophisticated European feel you might expect but without any pretension. It’s also totally free to list, and the company’s commissions are capped at a low $5.

What makes it great? You can list men’s, women’s and children’s clothing easily on Vinted, and the buyer always covers the shipping fee. You can also build a network of followers who see when you post new items, which can help you sell those items faster.

Cost. Vinted is totally free — there’s no fee to list or sell items!

A less-messy closet and a fatter wallet? Now that’s what we call sparking joy.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jamie Cattanach
Jamie Cattanach |

Jamie Cattanach is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here