McMeekin, who has a masters in social work and has trained as a coach through The Coaches Training Institute, adds that many of her clients, who tend to work in creative fields, can be turned off by the number-crunching approach of financial planners. "Sometimes certified financial planners can be very conservative and scare the daylights out of people, especially people in transition who are letting go of a 401(k) or starting a business for themselves," she says, adding that her clients are often better off taking risks, as long as they are calculated ones.
"What I do is broader than financial planning," explains Bruce Poster, a retirement coach based in Santa Fe. "We look at a whole range of lifestyle issues. Finance is one of them, but so is health, leisure, and how you establish meaning in life," he adds. Poster, a certified retirement coach and former consultant, uses worksheets and prompts to help clients develop their vision and goals for retirement and then create a plan to achieve them. His coaching packages for couples start at $595.
Since coaches vary so much in their expertise, training, and experience, finding the right one can be a challenge. Hassler recommends asking friends for recommendations, using the website mycoachmatch.com, and browsing the blogs of coaches. Says Hassler, "You want a coach who's walking a similar path but is a little bit ahead of you."
Corrected on 10/5/2011: A previous version of this story used the incorrect pronoun to refer to Tea Austin.