Luna Jaffe did not take a typical path on her way to becoming a financial planner. At the age of 23, she began her career as a visual artist and entrepreneur, creating wearable art for her own company, LunaSilks. Following this, she traveled abroad extensively, spending time in Asia and South America. After turning thirty, Jaffe earned a Masters degree in psychotherapy and opened her own practice that focused on expressive art therapy.
During her travels, Portland was a landing point for Jaffe. Originally from upstate New York, she made the move to the Rose City in 1987. It was after working in sales that she got the idea to pursue financial planning. Jaffe worked at Edward Jones for seven years, managing over $48M. Opening her own firm Lunaria Financial in 2010, Jaffe has now been providing financial wisdom in the Portland area for 13 years.
Author, teacher, and mother, Jaffe’s approach to money is, in accordance with her career path, not a typical one.
How has your artistic background helped you in your role as a financial planner?
I call myself an “accidental” financial planner because never in a million years would I have imagined myself here. For 12 years I was a visual artist, painting and designing wearable art. This experience has helped me understand people, especially creative types and women who come at money feeling like it’s never made sense to them. Part of that is because I never saw myself as a financial person or as somebody who was savvy about money.
I do a lot of drawings with my clients that help them visualize where are they now and where they want to be. I believe that when you can draw a picture of where you want to be, you can actually make it happen. A drawing becomes the first step. From there, you have to get practical and ask, “How am I going to do that?” It’s not just airy-fairy thinking. Rather, I think that we have to think it, believe in it, and then do the work.
Describe your typical client.
I have clients from all the way up, with super high net worths, to the ones who are just starting out. The people that I attract are the people that care about the money they have. They tend to be thinking about how they can be better stewards of that money. They tend to not know how doing that, but they know when they need help. At this stage, most of my clients are women. I think my approach, which looks at money from a spiritual, creative, and emotional perspective, appeals more to them than the average man.
Increasingly, I’m seeing younger clients coming in. It’s very interesting to me that I have people in their twenties saying they need to learn how to be smart with money. They don’t want to end up where their parents are. I love that they are feeling motivated.
Tell me about your book, Wild Money: A Creative Journey to Financial Wisdom. Why did you choose to write this book?
For me, Wild Money is helping people get back in alignment with who they are at the core. It’s filled with color and illustrations designed to give people the space to process how they feel about money. It looks at money from lots of different angles. It asks the reader a variety of questions, like how do you receive money, how do you feel about the difference between a gift and something you earn, how do you spend money, and how do you get intentional about the way you spend money?
There are many books out there that say here is the problem and here is where you are and then don’t provide you with any tools for how to deal with it. When I was trying to learn about money I couldn’t find any books that were lining up with how I feel about the world. They either had an overly spiritual approach with no grounding elements, or they were super grounded in day-to-day numbers with no spiritual or emotional perspective. In writing my book, my point was that these two things have to co-exist. We have to live with an understanding that we can set intentions and visualize what we want and where we eventually want to be. If we’re not there yet, we still have to live in our present moment. I teach people how doing this. My goal is to give people tools that allow them to reflect upon their relationship with money and visualize it for the future.
What does the term ‘Wild Money’ mean?
The term ‘Wild Money’ came before the book did. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know what this book is, but I do know it’s called Wild Money.’ What I figured out as I was writing it was that to me, Wild Money was about getting back in touch with creating a financial ecosystem that makes sustainable sense. It’s wild as in natural, not in the reckless or without a caution sense of the word. If you think about it, a wild environment, a natural environment—even the cycle of predators and prey, they are all in balance. Nature tends to get screwed up when we come in and say, “Let’s take the wolves out.” When you take the wolves out, the deer become too predominant and they eat all the food and then everything else becomes messed up. And the same is true with money. If we don’t make it a natural part of our lives, things tend to fall out of balance.
What is one piece of financial advice everyone should know?
What I see as the most significant thing in getting to a place of financial well-being is practice. Just like with anything else, you have got to practice managing your money to become good at it. It can be a really fun thing to do when you’re engaged in it and see the value in being on top of your money. It’s exciting to see how many things you can accomplish if you do it well. You can travel the world, get an education, or purchase a home. Money is a resource. Whether you love it or you hate it, your attitude is going to be what makes it work or not.