Divorce coach

As a certified divorce financial analyst, Sara Tilberg coaches people when their hearts are breaking. But her job is to help figure out the money. Most of her clients are involved in pro se divorce — the DIY divorce process. "Couples with complicated finances hire lawyers," she said. "I work with people who have fewer assets, so there is less to split up or fight over."

Tilberg does some of what a divorce attorney would do — reviewing assets and liabilities, valuing pensions and retirement accounts, exploring tax implications — "but I stay neutral," she said. "In a divorce, you win if you can both walk away and feel like you got a fair shake."

Fee: $150 an hour; typical cost per case, $1,200.

Dating coach

Returning to single life after the end of a long marriage can be disorienting, dramatic, even dangerous. "We talk to people who've been married for 10 to 30 years," said Amy Rolando, founder of the Pairings Group, a Minneapolis relationship and matchmaking agency. "People go back to their previous behavior, but it's not the same game."

She and her partner, Denys Crea, help clients negotiate online dating options and "quickly evaluate the people they're meeting." They also make post-date calls to both parties to learn about their client's dating behavior. "Our clients may not be aware of how they're coming across, what they say and do," Rolando said. "What we will tell you may be tough or awkward to hear, but you have to hear it to get results.' "

Fee: Starts at $1,500.

Retirement coach

As a business coach, Julie Keyes helped owners of small companies increase profits. Now she helps them let go. "In the next few years, a massive number of baby boomers will want to sell, transfer the business to a family member or transition into a different role," said Keyes, a certified exit planner. They may be in for a nasty shock when they price their businesses. "I'm in the position of delivering bad news to people who think they're in better shape to sell than they are. "

That's why Keyes helps business owners maximize the value of their companies, then prepares a timetable for taking those companies to market. She also pushes owners to map out the next stage of life. "Many people don't see retirement as a positive time of life, and do you know why? Because they don't have any plans," Keyes said. "I help them figure out what they want to do and the strategy to get there."

Fee: $1,200-$3,000 per month.

College admissions coach

Since 1989, Linda Rue has been guiding students through the increasingly complicated process of choosing a college and getting admitted. She helps clients "from the top of the class to special-needs students … make informed decisions."

Rue prefers to start with sophomores, so she can advise them on courses and activities that will make their applications stand out. She strives to find a college where each individual student will thrive. ("Do they need a small college where they're personally known? Or do they like the feel of a big school where they can be more anonymous?") And she helps families locate colleges with generous aid packages. "I can't promise what aid students will get, or where they will get in, but I know they'll have a well planned, carefully executed application that will showcase what the student does well and what they care about."

Fees: Starting at $2,300.

Kevyn Burger