At AFCPE, we love seeing AFC® professionals whose passion shines through the work that they do, and who inspire others in creative and innovative ways! Our professionals come from different backgrounds and varying life experiences, but they all share an unwavering commitment to helping others achieve lasting financial wellbeing. Get to know a newly certified AFC®, Mikelann Valterra.

What inspired you to enter this field?

Years ago, I was fascinated both with psychology, as well as personal finance. The “psychology of money” therefore, held a lot of appeal to me. I knew I did not want to be a financial planner and work with investments – as I would miss the rest of the “people picture”; people’s lives are far more encompassing than just investments and retirement planning. I also saw many financial behaviors that people fell into again and again. For example, people get out of debt all the time. However, then they find themselves in debt again. How do you truly shift this cycle? 

In 1996, I met a financial counselor and money coach (Karen McCall of the Financial Recovery Institute) who was working with people at a very deep level – combining psychology and financial literacy. She helped them look at many areas of their lives, through the lens of money. I saw that money coaching was a process that addressed long-standing financial behaviors and beliefs and helped people create sustainable change.  From getting in touch with their true needs and wants to visualize the future, money coaching was a way of helping people have less stress and create a life they love.  That was twenty years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

Financial Anxiety is now the top issue I see. This is caused by many common financial issues, from coping with erratic cash flow, debt, concern over “do I have enough” to “where is my money going?”  Recognizing this, I wrote a twenty-page eBook called How to Stop Stressing About Money and Create a Life You Love. You can download it by filling in the opt-in box on my website.

 Why did you pursue the AFC®?

While I have been a financial counselor and money coach for twenty years, I plan on working another twenty years, so I wanted to add a designation that would shore up my credibility, enhance my financial knowledge with the latest information on personal finance, and also protect my career in case our field of money coaching comes under increasing regulation. The AFC® designation seemed to give me all that.

What impact are you hoping to make?

I have worked with professional adults on creating a healthier relationship to money for many years. This work not only helps my clients decrease their financial anxiety but also helps them envision a life that is even better. Over the years I have helped people pay off debt, build up their savings and net worth, talk to their partners about money, understand what motivates them to spend, and also look at their relationship to earning money. In fact, I published a book on healing “underearning” in 2004 and spoke on this topic at the 2016 AFCPE Symposium in Louisville, KY.

In my opinion, when someone has a healthy relationship to money, this impacts many other areas of their lives, and they can continue growing personally and professionally with greater ease. For many of my clients, their relationship with money feels like a final frontier. While they have addressed many other areas of their lives, feeling good about money has eluded them. That is where money coaching comes in – and the impact is amazing.

In 2013, I co-founded  This is subscription-based spending plan software designed to help financial counseling clients (and the general public) gain control of their finances and experience flexible, guilt-free spending. It is an essential tool in my coaching practice, helping counseling clients track their spending and learn how to manage their cash flow while getting in touch with their money patterns. This has increased the impact of this work more than words can convey.

On my website, I write: “As your money coach, I will give you both the practical tools and the emotional guidance you need to establish and enjoy a new, healthy relationship with money… one that supports your deepest needs, core values and wildest dreams.”

If you would like to hear me speak about this work, and how I encourage our money coaching clients to create a “personal money practice,” here is a thirty-minute interview on my blog. 

If you could offer new AFC® Candidates one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would first buy the hard copy study guide for the AFC® course, and use it to do the reading. I created flashcards of all the terms in that study guide — writing them up as I found the answers in the reading for each unit. I did take the review course, and this cemented all of my reading. However, it was the flashcards I created that helped me the most. I know it sounds “old school” but nothing beats having a pile of flashcards to test yourself! I felt well prepared for the exam.

Mikelann Valterra, AFC®,

September 28, 2017

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