Skip to Content
  1. Podcasts
  2. The Long View

Carolyn McClanahan: There's More to Money Than Just the Numbers

Carolyn McClanahan on her shift from practicing medicine to financial planning, how to model health and long-term care costs, and troubleshooting financial risks later in life.

The Long View cover art

Listen Now

Listen and subscribe to Morningstar’s The Long View from your mobile device.

Our guest for this week's installment of The Long View podcast sits at the busy intersection of healthcare and financial planning. Carolyn McClanahan was a practicing physician for a number of years, but after a frustrating search for a financial planner for her and her husband, she decided to study financial planning and earned the CFP designation. In 2004, she founded financial planning firm Life Planning Partners, and serves as the firm's director of financial planning. She also co-founded Whealthcare, a software program that identifies and troubleshoots age-related financial risks.

Carolyn strongly believes that individuals and financial advisors should think proactively about the implications of aging for healthcare and financial planning. She is also sought-after as a public speaker and a media expert on matters of aging, healthcare, and personal finances.

Show Notes
The quest for real advice: How a "math nerd" found her way to medicine and eventually sought financial advice (1:12-3:32)

Frustrated: How disappointing experiences with financial advisors spurred Carolyn to pursue a career in financial planning (3:33-4:56)

"It worked beautifully": Why Carolyn decided to charge flat fees for her planning services instead of taking a percentage of client's assets (4:57-6:50)

"It's a lot harder": Carolyn explains why the flat-fee model isn't more commonplace, how they determine the right fee for each client, and why it makes economic sense (6:51-8:44)

An "ensemble model": How Carolyn built her practice and how she hones her focus (8:45-13:01)

A piece, not the whole pie: The role investments play in a client's financial plan (and how to avoid expectation gaps) (13:02-14:43)

The healthcare spending conundrum: "We spend so much money on end-stage healthcare that really doesn't help anybody." (14:44-17:39)

Heal thyself: "We're going to start seeing lawsuits from employees…about employers not being good purchasers of (health) insurance" (17:40-19:35)

Primary care as a public service: Carolyn's ideal healthcare system puts community health centers at its core (and removes primary care from insurance coverage) (19:36-22:35)

How to address the big-four "aging planning" issues: When to stop driving, when to move, when to get help with financial decisions, when to get help with healthcare decisions (22:36-26:02)

How to take the keys away: Addressing the issue of aging parents who shouldn't be driving anymore (26:03-28:08)

Bringing the family together: "90% of fraud and abuse is done by people close to you" (28:09-30:36)

"It's been a beautiful thing to use": How Carolyn employs "engagement standards" to align expectations and ensure clients commit to the plan (30:37-32:42)

Cognitive decline: "A client's biggest risk to their financial security is actually themselves" (32:43-34:33)

How to plan for healthcare spends: Live healthy, work as long as you can, reflect on how you use healthcare (34:34-37:52)

Whealthcare: A programmatic attempt to project and plan for healthcare costs (37:53-39:02)

A construct for long-term care planning: "People who are very healthy are going to have a longer long-term care need; people with dementia have an average long-term care need; if you're very unhealthy you don't have to worry about long-term care." (39:03-42:10)

Paying for long-term care: Carolyn suggests setting aside a "bucket" of money to self-fund long-term care, which avoids problems with acceptance into nursing facilities and complexity of long-term care insurance (42:11-45:20)

"There's more to money than just the numbers": Why hybrid long-term care insurance isn't usually a good answer, but sometimes piece of mind makes up for its opportunity costs (45:21-47:45)

How to avoid cognitive decline: It's not all hereditary, so learn as much as possible and live a healthy lifestyle (47:46-50:31)

Other ways to anticipate and manage cognitive decline: How a checklist helped a client determine he was suffering a series of mini-strokes (50:32-53:29)

Caroyln McLanahan bio


National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)

Employee Benefit Research Institute

Transparency is how we protect the integrity of our work and keep empowering investors to achieve their goals and dreams. And we have unwavering standards for how we keep that integrity intact, from our research and data to our policies on content and your personal data.

We’d like to share more about how we work and what drives our day-to-day business.

We sell different types of products and services to both investment professionals and individual investors. These products and services are usually sold through license agreements or subscriptions. Our investment management business generates asset-based fees, which are calculated as a percentage of assets under management. We also sell both admissions and sponsorship packages for our investment conferences and advertising on our websites and newsletters.

How we use your information depends on the product and service that you use and your relationship with us. We may use it to:

  • Verify your identity, personalize the content you receive, or create and administer your account.
  • Provide specific products and services to you, such as portfolio management or data aggregation.
  • Develop and improve features of our offerings.
  • Gear advertisements and other marketing efforts towards your interests.

To learn more about how we handle and protect your data, visit our privacy center.

Maintaining independence and editorial freedom is essential to our mission of empowering investor success. We provide a platform for our authors to report on investments fairly, accurately, and from the investor’s point of view. We also respect individual opinions––they represent the unvarnished thinking of our people and exacting analysis of our research processes. Our authors can publish views that we may or may not agree with, but they show their work, distinguish facts from opinions, and make sure their analysis is clear and in no way misleading or deceptive.

To further protect the integrity of our editorial content, we keep a strict separation between our sales teams and authors to remove any pressure or influence on our analyses and research.

Read our editorial policy to learn more about our process.