Blogs

Onboarding New Employees and Financial Wellness

Hiring new employees is a complicated process. Have you ever stopped to contemplate all of the steps it takes from the time you initially determine it’s time to hire someone until they complete their first day of work? Depending on the position to be filled, you may conduct a simultaneous internal and external search. The search involves advertising, recruiting, resume reviewing, initial candidate screening, in-person interviewing, offer generating, and acceptance gathering. In some cases you become involved in relocation arrangements. Assuming your preferred candidate says yes, resigns their current position, and ignores any counteroffers, you are only partway to a successful onboarding.

From this stage in the process, my candidate onboarding checklist is a page-and-a-half long. Two weeks prior to starting, I send new employees an email inviting them to enroll into our payroll system. I remind them to bring two appropriate forms of identification, so they can complete the I-9 form on their first day of work. One week prior to the start date, I reach out to our future hires to motivate, answer any questions, and calm potential first-day jitters. I make sure the employees’ computers and phones are ready for day one. I must create email addresses and then tie them to Office Suite and Google Suite software, the client project tracking system, Dropbox, intranet, video conferencing, and various creative tools.

My checklist also includes making sure that our new employees have building access keycards, parking permits, printer codes, and conference room scheduling permissions. I make sure that new hires get some company swag and an ambassador for their first few days.

When day-one arrives, new employees complete their I-9 forms, insurance choices, and meet with our 401k fund manager. They receive a tour of the building (restrooms and coffee are important) and staff introductions. We give new employees a customer “cheat sheet” presentation that provides basic information about the clients we serve. New hires get a thorough explanation of workflow, written schedules, and basic expectations. They are asked to read through and give acknowledgement of our online policy manual. New employees receive week-one goals, month-one goals, and a chance to ask questions. After this, we always make sure new employees get lunch either brought in or at a nearby restaurant with some of our team members.

Soak in this thought for a minute: you perform all of these tasks to help a person feel welcome and get through a successful day-one at your company. Day-one. One day. Now think about how much you do to help new employees experience financial wellness for the rest of their lives. Be totally honest. To which duration do you devote more time and effort? One day or an entire lifetime. Don’t get me wrong – if day-one doesn’t go well, the entire lifetime may not matter much to your company, but ignoring your employees’ financial wellness can cost your company dearly in the long run.

A 2021 CreditWise survey reported that 73% of Americans list finances as the top cause of stress in their lives. This stress translates to lost productivity, increased absenteeism, and reduced profitability for your company.

At the Foundation for Financial Wellness, we know that everyone’s knowledge and comfort level with budgeting, planning, and investing is different, so we’ve created tools to be flexible and guide your employees into the areas that they need the most. Our Five Essentials Program starts at the beginning, complete with behaviors and psychology, and leads the user down the path to intentionally creating an investing plan that will lead to sustainable retirement and a lasting legacy.

Don’t let the effort you put into successful employee onboarding end after day-one. Take action and create a plan to help your employees develop a sense of financial wellness by visiting www.foundationforfinancialwellness.org/employer-programs. We are a not-for-profit looking to make a difference. Learn how to help your employees Handle Life (and their money) Better.

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How Sixth-grade Band is Similar to Financial Wellness [Certified Financial Wellness Professional]

I never realized how much admiration I have for sixth-grade band teachers until the other night. A neighbor invited my wife and me to his son’s end-of-year, sixth-grade band concert at school. We went and were treated to songs about spring, patriotism, and school spirit. In between numbers, the teacher reminded us that the students in front of us were completing their first year as full-fledged musicians. Students at this school are allowed to participate in band for the first time as sixth graders. At the beginning of the school year, these students had no concept of playing together as a single unit, not to mention playing a single note, reading music, or even holding their instrument correctly. 

My neighbors’ son, Calvin, plays the trombone, which is part of the “low brass” family of instruments. The band teacher pointed out that one challenge for novice low brass instrument players is learning to play chains of notes that are not the melodies of the songs. Low brass instruments typically play more harmonic notes that support the melody rather than be part of it. Trombonists don’t usually get the affirmation of “knowing” the song they are playing sounds “right” in the way that some of the musicians do whose notes create the melody. 

 Why do I have a newfound admiration for sixth-grade band teachers, and what in the world does a middle school band concert have to do with financial wellness? 

 I had the epiphany that the true genius of a sixth-grade band teacher comes from their ability to create order out of chaos. They take beginning drummers, flutists, and trombonists and help each create a plan that maximizes their own individual growth while at the same time allowing them to come together and play as one band. They provide guidance at a one-on-one level during a 45-minute class period but motivate each student to go home and practice the same piece of music over and over until mastery attainment. They meet each student where the child is and do not subscribe to a one-size-fits-all mentality. 

Your current and future clients want an advisor who can create order out of financial chaos. They desire someone who can help them tailor a financial wellness plan that suits their individual needs based on experience, confidence, and budget. Beyond investments, taxes, mortgages, estate planning, or simply helping with budgeting and credit counseling, clients want industry experts who are solid communicators, behavioral scientists, financial mentors, motivational coaches, and overall wellness gurus. It’s one thing to say you possess these traits. It’s another to have the certification to back it up. Some of the greatest minds in wellness, finance, and consulting have collaborated to develop the Foundation for Financial Wellness’s Financial Wellness Professional Certification™.

Engaging in the Foundation’s certification training will unlock seven modules with a multitude of courses and chapters inside each. The modules cover topics like behavior change, counseling and coaching, facilitation, and education. Participants will also get access to the Foundation’s world-famous 5 Essentials for Financial Wellnesscurriculum. Upon completion of the program, an exam allows the practitioner the opportunity to show competency in all aspects of financial wellness. Pass the exam and receive a certification mark that will show both current and future clients that your practice goes beyond analyzing the market and making recommendations. You care about the overall wellbeing of everyone with whom you encounter. The certification program caters to the busy professional. Approximately 20 hours of coursework can be completed at a go-at-your-own pace prior to taking the certifying exam. 

Once certified, you will join a community of like-minded wellness professionals and have access to world-class livestreams, videos, and curriculum curated by the Foundation for Financial Wellness. Annual continuing education requirements for certification renewal provides further opportunities to show your commitment to the wellness of your clients. 

Help your clients make beautiful music while creating order out of financial chaos.  

For more information and to enroll in the certification program, visit https://foundationforfinancialwellness.org/certified-financial-wellness-professional/. We are a not-for-profit entity, looking to make a difference in the world. Learn how to Handle Life (and money) Better. 

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What do High School Basketball Memories Have to do With Financial Wellness? [Certified Financial Wellness Professional]

When I played basketball back in high school, my coach frequently talked about two kinds of errors: errors of commission and errors of omission.

Errors of commission usually showed up in the box score and included things like committing a foul while going for a rebound, making a bad pass while trying to get the ball to an open teammate, and missing a shot while trying to beat the clock at the end of a quarter. Coach said that these kinds of errors were forgivable because they occurred while trying to make something positive happen.

Errors of omission on the other hand transpired as a result of not doing something. They rarely showed up in the box score and included things like not working hard during off-season conditioning, not going to bed at a decent hour the night before a game, not going for a rebound, not telling a teammate a screen is coming, and not being in proper defensive stance to stop an opponent from scoring. Errors of omission always made coach angry. During film sessions, coach rarely mentioned errors of commission, but he would rewind the tape over and over to show errors of omission and demand explanations. These errors occurred because of a lack of effort or awareness, and coach deemed them unforgivable.

What do old high school basketball memories have to do with financial wellness? Let’s fast-forward to today. Are your clients’ and future clients’ current states of financial wellness caused due to errors of commission, errors of omission, or both? Let’s face it, if no one made any financial errors, everyone would be rich, and advisors would not be needed.

Errors of commission might include strategies that over or underweight stocks, bonds, or cash in portfolio balancing, selling a position too soon, and buying an asset based on chatter heard at a party. While sometimes costly, these errors are made while trying to make something positive happen. These are the kinds of errors that very likely will show up on your clients’ (and in turn your) box scores. Fortunately, with discipline, these kinds of errors can be improved upon.

What are some errors of omission that might not show up in the box score but cost your clients dearly? Some very common ones include not contributing to a company 401k plan up to the match percentage, not putting enough annual money into a 529 plan to earn your state’s full tax benefit, not paying down high-interest debt as quickly as possible, not investigating the loads placed on various funds, not investing at all due to fear of not knowing what to do, and not asking questions for fear of looking foolish. Notice that in the errors of omission in both the basketball and investing scenarios, I started each example with the word “not.” When the quarterly statement comes out, it will never show how much of a match could have been earned, tax deductions gained, fees and interest saved, hypothetical profit made, or questions answered.

Fear and lack of knowledge leads to paralysis, and this paralysis creates errors of omission. Your clients want a financial professional who can quell both fear and lack of knowledge. Beyond investments, taxes, mortgages, estate planning, or simply helping with budgeting and credit counseling, clients want industry experts who are solid communicators, behavioral scientists, financial mentors, motivational coaches, and overall wellness gurus. It’s one thing to say you possess these traits. It’s another to have the certification to back it up. Some of the greatest minds in wellness, finance, and consulting have collaborated to develop the Foundation for Financial Wellness’s Financial Wellness Professional Certification .

Engaging in the Foundation’s certification training will unlock seven modules with a multitude of courses and chapters inside each. The modules cover topics like behavior change, counseling and coaching, facilitation, and education. Participants will also get access to the Foundation’s world-famous 5 Essentials for Financial Wellness  curriculum. Upon completion of the program, an exam allows the practitioner the opportunity to show competency in all aspects of financial wellness. Pass the exam and receive a certification mark that will show both current and future clients that your practice goes beyond analyzing the market and making recommendations. You care about the overall wellbeing of everyone with whom you encounter. The certification program caters to the busy professional. Approximately 20 hours of coursework can be completed at a go-at-your-own pace prior to taking the certifying exam.

Once certified, you will join a community of like-minded wellness professionals and have access to world-class livestreams, videos, and curriculum curated by the Foundation for Financial Wellness. Annual continuing education requirements for certification renewal provide further opportunities to show your commitment to the wellness of your clients.

Help your clients make the game-winning shot by helping them eliminate both errors of commission and omission.

For more information and to enroll in the certification program, visit https://foundationforfinancialwellness.org/certified-financial-wellness-professional/. We are a not-for-profit entity, looking to make a difference in the world. Learn how to Handle Life (and money) Better.

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Why Certification Matters [Certified Financial Wellness Professional]

As a kid I remember turning the dial on our TV that received three stations. I was fascinated by weather and always tried to catch the forecasts on each channel. The graphics, satellite images, and radars were primitive by today’s standards. Frankly, I don’t remember much about any of the broadcasts, but I do remember that one channel had a meteorologist that had the “NWA Seal of Approval,” and another channel had one with the “AMS Seal of Approval.” Before each broadcast, an authoritative voice would say, “Stan had earned the AMS Seal of Approval” or “Bob had achieved the NWA Seal of Approval.” The poor third station’s weatherperson must not have been very good, because no authoritative voice told me about any seals of approval. It turns out that the certification processes to get seals of approval are quite extensive. 

A few weeks back, I was watching the movie A Few Good Men. Kevin Bacon’s character reminds the jury that Dr. Stone is board certified in internal medicine, and that is why they should value his opinion. Yesterday, while driving home, I heard a radio commercial mention that every doctor in the practice was board certified. Because of this certification, they implied their clinic’s superiority over all others in the local area. Board certification for doctors is a near imperative. Certification tells patients, hospital systems, insurance companies, and colleagues that a doctor remains current in their practice. To get certified, a doctor must both complete a residency and pass a rigorous exam after the completion of medical school. To maintain certification, a doctor must remain current with updates in medical discoveries and technologies and periodically show proficiency in and improvements to their practice. While medical licensure is required to practice medicine, certification is a voluntary undertaking. The medical community holds the certification practice in such high regard that an estimated 90% of doctors in the United States have obtained board certification. 

Some of you reading this article have earned your Certified Financial Planner certification. The day is coming when clients will expect financial wellness certification from their financial professionals as well. Beyond investments, taxes, mortgages, estate planning, or simply helping with budgeting and credit counseling, clients want industry experts who are solid communicators, behavioral scientists, financial mentors, motivational coaches, and overall wellness gurus. It’s one thing to say you possess these traits. It’s another to have the certification to back it up. Some of the greatest wellness practitioners have collaborated to develop the Foundation for Financial Wellness’s Financial Wellness Professional Certification Program. 

Seeking Foundation certification in financial wellness will unlock seven modules with a multitude of courses and chapters inside each. The modules cover topics like behavior change, counseling and coaching, facilitation, and education. Participants will also get access to the Foundation’s world-famous 5 Essentials for Financial Wellness curriculum. Upon completion of the program, an exam allows the practitioner the opportunity to show competency in all aspects of financial wellness. Pass the exam and receive a certification mark that will show both current and future clients that your practice goes beyond analyzing the market and making recommendations. You care about the overall wellbeing of everyone with whom you encounter. The certification program caters to the busy professional. Approximately 20 hours of coursework can be completed at a go-at-your-own pace prior to taking the certifying exam. 

Once certified, you will join a community of like-minded wellness professionals and have access to world-class livestreams, videos, and curriculum curated by the Foundation for Financial Wellness. Annual continuing education requirements for certification renewal provides further opportunities to show your commitment to the wellness of your clients. 

Whether forecasting the weather, performing open-heart surgery, or motivating a client to make important financial improvements, certification matters. 

For more information and to enroll in the certification program, visit https://foundationforfinancialwellness.org/certified-financial-wellness-professional/. We are a not-for-profit entity, looking to make a difference. Learn how to Handle Life (and money) Better. 

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Timeless Concepts for Today - Thought Barriers

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned many lessons from both my own life and observing the behaviors of others. It’s hard to function on two hours of sleep. Drinking alcohol to excess will lead to regrettable behaviors, not to mention a massive headache the next morning. A constant diet of fast food will lead to weight gain and other issues that will leave a doctor frowning during a physical examination.  

Your employees know about each of the lessons I’ve described. Even though most people know about the adverse results, they continue the behaviors that lead to them. Why is this? 

Did you know that the American Psychological Association’s survey on stress determined that 72% of American adults are stressed about money at least some of the time, and 26% are stressed about money most or all of the time? To further this point, a separate report found that 60% of American workers’ distress over financial issues impacts their ability to focus at work and has caused 1 in 3 to miss or be late for work because of their financial situation. These are your employees and your company’s efficiency at stake. 

What is causing all of this financial stress? Much of it is rooted in negative thoughts about money and finances. Where did these negative thoughts originate? For many, it comes from childhood. Behavioral scientists refer to these beliefs as “scripts, tapes, or records,” and the majority them were given to us by authoritative figures early in life. Parents, teachers, and other trusted adults complain negatively about financial situations and pass along that paradigm to the next generation. 

If Dad couldn’t pay the gas bill and grumbled, you probably formed a negative connotation with bill paying at an early age. If Grandma constantly talked about how impossible it was to deal with financial “stuff,” you may have had it ingrained that dealing with financial “stuff” was too hard and avoided it. 

Scientists estimate that the average person has between 50,000 and 60,000 thoughts a day.  

Science has also learned that unfortunately 70-85% of these thoughts are negative. Since many people think about finances often, that accounts for many negative thoughts about money each day. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy! 

The answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post (Why is this?) has much to do with negativity in thoughts and actions. It’s time for a change. Financial wellness isn’t just about education, it’s about taking action. Sometimes that action is simply making a decision. That first decision should be choosing to think positively about money. This choice will then lead to other healthier financial behaviors. 

At the Foundation for Financial Wellness, we know that everyone’s knowledge and comfort level with investing is different, so we’ve created tools to be flexible and guide your employees into the areas that they need the most. Our Five Essentials Program starts at the beginning, complete with behaviors and psychology, and leads the user down the path to intentionally creating an investing plan that will lead to sustainable retirement and a lasting legacy. 

If your company wants to take action and learn more about educational programs, certifications, or coaching for you and your employees, contact us at www.foundationforfinancialwellness.org. We are a not-for-profit entity simply looking to make a difference. Learn how to Handle Life (and your money) Better. 

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Timeless Concepts for Today - Achieving Financial Wellness

Many people confuse financial wellness and financial education. Though they sound very similar, financial education is merely a subset of financial wellness. Financial wellness consists not only of financial knowledge (education) but also of healthy behaviors and empowering beliefs. Some of your employees have the head or book knowledge required to be financially well but lack the behaviors and beliefs to make it a reality. Others lack the knowledge necessary to take action to create lasting financial health that is one pillar of a fulfilling life.  

The term “wellness” did not enter the English lexicon until 1957. Dictionary.com defines it as  “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” As with other kinds of wellness, like physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual, financial wellness does not happen by accident. It requires sustained effort over a lifetime.  

Imagine that you have an employee named Brenda. Brenda is a sedentary person who one day wakes up and desires to complete a marathon. She knows a marathon is 26.2 miles and that she must train to complete the distance. Unfortunately, this knowledge alone will not make it happen. She must take the HUGE first step of getting off of the couch. She must then take deliberate action every day to achieve her goal. At first, completing one mile creates a cause for celebration. After first going a mile, two becomes her natural next target. Over time, Brenda can complete a 5k and a half-marathon. As her success increases, she develops the behaviors and beliefs that enable her to make an attempt at the marathon length. She might succeed on the first attempt, or she might have to try multiple times to complete the 26.2-mile distance. She could achieve the target, celebrate, and vow to do it again even faster the next time. Not only does reaching the goal of running a marathon require running regularly over increasing distances, it also requires discipline in other areas of life. Moving from a sedentary lifestyle to one of a marathoner requires Brenda to get additional sleep, eat well, and sacrifice leisure time to get in necessary training. 

Moving from a state of financial sedentariness to financial wellness requires the HUGE first step off of the figurative couch. It then demands deliberate activity and discipline in other areas of life. If Brenda is not financially well, but plans to continue spending beyond her means, she will remain on the financial couch. Beyond budgeting, financial wellness requires Brenda (and all of your employees) to evaluate her life and align her values with a plan that allows her to become financially healthy as a result of deliberate effort. 

At the Foundation for Financial Wellness, we know that everyone’s knowledge and comfort level with investing is different, so we’ve created tools to be flexible and guide your employees into the areas that they need the most. Our Five Essentials Program starts at the beginning, complete with behaviors and psychology, and leads the user down the path to intentionally creating an investing plan that will lead to sustainable retirement and a lasting legacy. 

If your company wants to take action and learn more about educational programs, certifications, or coaching for you and your employees, contact us at www.foundationforfinancialwellness.org. We are a not-for-profit entity simply looking to make a difference. Learn how to Handle Life (and your money) Better. 

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Timeless Concepts for Today - Getting Started

Investing is an important but intimidating topic especially to those with limited experience. Many of your employees know that they should be investing for their futures but have no idea where to start. 

I recall a story a friend of mine once told me about his first brush with investment advice. Steve had just graduated from college and really wanted to buy a new car. While starting work at his new job, he was filling out all the forms (this was still in the paper-form era) when the Human Resources Manager asked him about his plans for retirement. “Retirement?” my then twenty-two-year-old friend exclaimed. Steve just wanted to buy a new car. The HR Manager asked my friend if he was going to sign up for the company’s 401k program with a full match up to a 6% contribution level. Steve had no idea when the manager was talking about. “What’s a 401k?” he thought. He replied that he assumed the company’s pension plan would take care of him in retirement just like his dad’s company did. Sadly, the HR Manager replied that the company no longer offered a pension plan to new employees.  

The HR Manager then challenged my friend to take some time and figure how much money it would take to retire. “But,” my friend replied, “I just want to buy a new car.” However, Steve went away, took a month, and figured out that it would take a lot of money to retire comfortably some 40-45 years down the road. He then signed up for the 401k plan, got the full match, and then began to research and find different ways to invest his money. My friend is now in his 50s and has commented to me that he now enjoys much more financial flexibility than he would have had he never had this early encounter with the HR Manager. 

This anecdote highlights the struggle that young adults have with lack of knowledge and confidence when it comes to investing. Unfortunately, this struggle leads to indecision and an inability to get started. This paralysis allows other expenses to creep into an individual’s budget which further hamstrings one’s ability to create and execute a credible investment plan as adulthood progresses. Many people find themselves nearing retirement age without the funds necessary to live the post-work life of their dreams. 

At the Foundation for Financial Wellness, we know that everyone’s knowledge and comfort level with investing is different, so we’ve created tools to be flexible and guide your employees into the areas that they need the most. Our Five Essentials Program starts at the beginning, complete with behaviors and psychology, and leads the user down the path to intentionally creating an investing plan that will lead to sustainable retirement and a lasting legacy. 

If your company wants to take action and learn more about educational programs, certifications, or coaching for you and your employees, contact us at www.foundationforfinancialwellness.org. We are a not-for-profit entity simply looking to make a difference. Learn how to Handle Life (and your money) Better. 

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Live Life... Leave a Legacy

Video by Brent Hines transcribed below.

Hi there. I'm Brent Hines, Cofounder and Chief Development Officer for the educational nonprofit, Foundation for Financial Wellness. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3). We're headquartered here in the Denver, Colorado, area. We have been delivering our classes, our counseling, and our coaching literally across planet Earth for over ten years now.

So you might ask, well, what is financial wellness, exactly? What does that mean?

Financial wellness is not a financial product. It is not a financial service. Financial wellbeing is a journey literally through our entire lives. There's no getting away from money and our relationship with all things money.

We're the financial wellness partner of the National Wellness Institute. They've been around for decades, and they’re a gold standard in the wellness space.

NWI has a model that they call the six dimensions of wellness. It is a great illustration of someone's total wellbeing. Their six dimensions are:

  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual
  • Emotional

As you think through each of those six, there isn’t one of those that lives free of financial wellness impacting that dimension either positively or negatively. Money runs throughout our entire life, from youth until our last day on Earth. It must be addressed. If it's not being addressed, that includes our relationship with money, then it may be running amok.

So, this literally impacts, we refer to as all ages and stages through life. It's personal, often it's the stages of someone's young and just getting started. They may need to get rid of some debt. They need to learn how to harness income. They need to learn how to begin saving. They need to get a mindset around. How can I empower others with my ability to handle money well and have a really healthy relationship with money? What about all of those insurances in life? Which of those apply to me, don't apply to me? How about retirement planning, investments, my 401K, brokerage accounts, mutual funds annuities, stocks, bonds, all of that component when we're saving, accumulating, and building more wealth so that someday when the income spigot gets turned off, we then begin living off of our savings and maybe our employer retirement plan and then maybe Social Security benefits.

Financial wellness is impacting us literally throughout all of our phases of life, even into those end phases where we refer to those phases as the Life and Legacy classes that we teach. I love living on that end of the spectrum because you really get to see people be introspective and look back on life and think about what legacy that they want to leave. And rarely does that mean, "How much money can I leave my loved ones?" There's so much more to it than that.

So, who should engage with the Foundation for Financial Wellness? Anyone interested in improving their relationship with money, blessing others with how strong of a relationship that they might have, or maybe just people who are ready for defining their values, defining their purpose, their financial purpose in life, and then building a plan that is in alignment with those values, and those goals, and that Life and Legacy that they want to leave.

 

Let's Connect.

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Retirement Well-Lived

Video by Brent Hines transcribed below.

So why did we choose to get inside of the retirement community, if you will, as a marketplace? Well, the easiest answer is it's being underserved.

The folks that are in that space right now tend to either be financial services, just trying to advance their career or build their book of clientele as good hearted as they may be, you just can't change the fact that they're showing up with their firm name on their shirt It's difficult to remove that non solicitous, unbiased, no endorsement whatsoever approach that we take. Because we're a nonprofit, we can do that.

We're there to teach, and we're there to help create healthy behavior changes. And financial stress comes in all shapes and sizes. So, people who are living in these retirement communities, even though they may be demographically age wise down the scale, down the road a bit, the stress and their needs and the questions and the education that they're really looking for and the healthy behavior change that needs to happen to improve lives- it's going to be all over the board.

We're building a series of topics from, of course, the things you might expect around a retirement investment portfolio or retirement income planning- we call it “Dancing with Uncle Sam”. It's a set of classes on taxes and not overpaying in taxes today, and/or in the future. We have a class that we love called “Executor Bootcamp,” and the idea behind this class is it's either you as the estate holder or you as the named Executor- it's going to speak to both parties.

These are oftentimes really awkward conversations to have alone or ourselves.

To have a trusted nonprofit come in with expertise in this area and facilitate conversations that otherwise aren't being had at all or being discussed very awkwardly is of extreme value. And then, of course, a set of topics that we're teaching called “Life and Legacy” and all things, not just estate planning from wills and trust and powers of attorney, and that sort of thing, of course, that's important- but [we discuss] all the less tangible items as well.

Again, being the “Sherpa” in that conversation, being that facilitator, and giving people a framework to have conversations and make really good decisions, create some order, have some conversations that they weren't going to have otherwise- you can just see relationships strengthen and again, healthy behavior change happening. People making decisions to improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones, oftentimes their adult children. It's just in our DNA and our culture. We love to help. We can laser focus on these issues for this stage of life that they're in. Again, financial matters, financial wellbeing is much more about behavior than it is about the X’s and O’s of finance. And if you want to really understand and master the behavior, you got to take a step back and look at what's happening between our ears, our relationship with money, how we think about these things and just having this outside energy source come in with a template to talk through.

These matters are just extremely helpful and something that we can't wait to bring into the market.

 

Let's Connect.

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Solutions for Seniors

Video by Brent Hines transcribed below.

Well, the reason for this conversation today is this set of programs that we are building and will be rolling out in the very near future that are intended for the needs of people living in retirement communities and their loved ones.

From the start, the Foundation's purpose has been to improve life skills, and oh yeah, that includes money skills!

As we said prior in our conversation that the six dimensions of wellness, there's no getting away from money. There's no getting away from- If we're talking about financial, wellbeing, that cannot live in a vacuum. It must live in collaboration with, and integration with all the other components of living well.

We are a 501c, a not for profit. We feel that's a differentiator and important to where organizations, communities, we got our start in the employer space, so HR professionals would bring us in to teach employees. We began in reaching out into affinity groups and associations, many churches, faith-based organizations, to come in and really help people with that total wellbeing approach of improving their relationship with money.

Our goal from the start has been to improve lives, and we can do that through our knowledge and know-how of helping families do better with their money by changing their thinking and beliefs and relationship with money, and then defining what are the things that really need to be done, & aligning those with their values and their goals, then talking about- Okay, great. Now how do we carry that out?

So not starting on the other end of the spectrum, let's talk about financial products- What's a stock, what's a bond, what's an annuity, what's a mutual fund? We feel like that is starting on the wrong end of the equation.

As we have been having more and more conversations with professionals AND families who are in the retirement living communities, it seems pretty obvious now, it's more than just the property, or more than just the building. It's about, truly, that community and being an anchor, or a safe place to come and learn without the fear of being sold, some kind of financial product or service. Not to throw the financial professionals under the bus, but I don't blame an operator for not bringing in the local financial adviser. There's just too much liability of the perception that you're endorsing them and all of that. We really feel like we're going to fill a big void here and just be a blessing to people inside of these communities and to the communities themselves that want to add value to their residents and the families around them.

Just having a better financial footing is better quality for everyone's life.

 

Let's Connect.

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4 Questions About Risk We All Must Answer

This world is full of risk. Some risks are worth taking. Others are not.

Also, risk comes in many flavors and variations - physical, emotional, relational, professional, or financial.

In the financial world, we hear the talking heads associate “risk” with “return”. In essence, if we are 100% risk averse, we will experience very little opportunity for growth. However, we might be willing to take on large amounts of risk with the hope of large upside potential.

Well, not everything is black and white in this world, and people do not always act rationally.

Distilled down to everyday language…each of us has different goals, preferences, and fears.

Please understand, we’re not here to tell you or your employees what specific risks you should mitigate or what insurance policies you should own, but rather, we want you and your people to be well-informed, know the right questions to ask, and be able to put a plan in place that is tailored for you and your families.

Regarding financial risk, there are 4 critical questions that you and your employees should all have answered: 

  1. What if you get sued? - You’re right to be worried. There are over 100 million cases filed each year in American courts, and there are only 330 million people in the United States. You do the math. In less than 4 years’ time, there are as many court cases filed as there are citizens of the country. Conclusion…”Cover your assets!”
  2. What if you become sick or hurt? - This is an often-underappreciated topic. Take a moment to think through what next month would look like financially if your paycheck stopped. According to Bankrates Financial Security Index, only 39% of us have savings over $1,000. So, even needing to take just a week or two off without pay could lead to devastating financial consequences.
  3. What if you die younger than expected? – In our youth, we were invincible and would live forever. Now as adults with families we love and care for, it’s not unusual for us to begin contemplating, “What if I die before I ever get a chance to grow old?” Forgive me for being Mr. Downer here, but over 40,000 Americans died in car crashes last year alone! Add to that the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and so on. If you were to die unexpectantly, what would that do to your family financially?
  4. What if you need long-term care at some point? - The Alliance Health Policy research shows that 58% of men and 79% of women aged 65 and older would need long-term care at some point as they grow older; it’s expensive. According to Genworth, in ten years, the cost of one year of care will cost between $60,000 and $130,000. If we don’t have a plan for this, the assets we worked so hard to save and build will be wiped out, rather than going to your family.

If you want to learn more about how to help you and your employees manage risk, contact us at the Foundation for Financial Wellness.

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Out with the Budget; in with Alignment

Shame, guilt, and judgment have no place in the development of your employees’ financial wellbeing. Would your people rather I try to shame them into living on a budget, or would they rather we have a two-way conversation about aligning their personal values with their vision of a successful financial future? Yeah, me too.

Budgeting, debt elimination, and emergency cash are all foundational pillars of financial wellness. However, it seems everything we’ve heard from the talking heads on this topic falls in the “How” and “What” categories and runs right past the “Why.” The alignment of our thoughts and behaviors with our values creates the nearly magical place where our lives are carried out with purpose and intentionality. Once your employees find this untapped power source, the budget, debt elimination, and emergency cash will happen. And get this…they’re actually going to like it. They’re going to demand it! It’s no longer a best practice or principle. It’s a way of being that comes from their most meaningful reasons.

There are endless templates, software, and ideas on how budgets should be built. We have our favorites at the Foundation for Financial Wellness, but whichever your people decide to use, it must be a zero-sum budget. Meaning, you must “spend” every dollar on paper before the money hits your account.

Debt elimination is an interesting topic. We teach two types of approaches: 1) Mathematical approach, and 2) Behavioral approach. The mathematical approach would have you pay off your debt in order of highest interest rate (most expensive) to lowest. This is logical. The behavioral approach has you pay off your debt in order of smallest balance to largest balance. This is emotional. The emotional brain gets the chemical release quickly by knocking out the smallest first, then builds momentum by rolling those payments into the next debt item, and so on.

The vast percentage of people we have taught through the years prefer the behavioral approach, and for good reason. “The best approach is the one you complete!” Not to mention, it was emotion, not logic, that got us into the consumer debt, so likely, it will be the power of the emotional brain that gets us out.

Finally, the third component of the financial trifecta, is emergency cash. There is nothing sexy about this. Then again, there’s nothing sexy about an Ambien either, and it’s debatable which one helps you sleep better at night.

If you want to learn more about how to help you and your employees budget, eliminate debt, and build up emergency cash, contact us at the Foundation for Financial Wellness.

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Living a Life of Legacy

According to a study from AARP, 83% of Americans have at least some form or fashion of a plan for death. This is really a surprisingly high number given that somewhere around only 50% of baby boomers even have a simple will.

However, we pose a very different question...rather than asking what percentage of Americans have a plan for death, why aren’t we asking what percentage of Americans have a plan for living? 

A plan for living is called Retirement Planning...a plan for dying is called Estate Planning...combining them both is called Life and Legacy.

It’s critical for both employees and employers to define your purpose and the “why” before building your plan. Whether you’re selecting financial products (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, real estate, etc.) or adjusting your existing plan, setting an intention will alleviate stress and anxiety when it comes time to make a decision.

If you and your employees have a rock-solid purpose defined, then it will drive the design of your life and legacy plans because it will be all about your unique needs and goals. Here are a few key points for you and your employees to consider as you plan for a prosperous future.

1. Beware of the Silent Assassins- Taxes & Inflation!

Our financial lives can be broken down into 3 different phases:

  1. Accumulation
  2. Spend-down
  3. Legacy

Think of it as taking on the challenge of climbing Mt Everest. The Accumulation Phase is like the ascent, the Spend-down Phase like the decent, and the Legacy Phase is the stories told about it for years to come. For all phases, it’s important to have a tax balance approach. This means we’re paying attention to the tax consequences of our decisions today and in the future. Where are tax rates today in comparison to where we believe they will be in the future? Additionally, putting the money aside (aka savings) is the biggest hurdle, but once we do set it aside, can we really afford to put it under a rock for the next 5, 10, 30 years? The answer is no, and the longer the time horizon, the more important each percentage rate of growth matters. Don’t forget, use the Purpose – Planning – Product philosophy as your compass.

2. Daydream a bit – what will that first day of retirement look like?

Let that inner-child out right now and dream out loud for a bit. What does your ideal first day of retirement look like? What time does the alarm go off (or does it at all)? Where are you? What scene do you take in while sipping that first cup of retirement coffee? What will you wear that day; flip flops, boat shoes, ski boots, or are you barefoot? What color is your house, what’s the weather like, and who’s with you? How are you feeling?

Seriously, dream about it and write everything down. OK, this is fun and all, but what’s the purpose of all this warm and fuzzy feeling stuff? A budget- a retirement budget.

Hopefully, we’re already living by our budget now (if not, START today!) It is very difficult (and probably unrealistic) to build a retirement budget out of thin air and expect it to be accurate. Yes, our retirement budget is best built on the foundation of our pre-retirement budget. Some expenses will go away entirely, other expenses may go up (hopefully some fun ones!) and some new expenses that we’ve never had prior may need to be added. Regardless, the budget in retirement is mission critical. It should be aligned with your vision and values, and it becomes your playbook for what are hopefully the most joy-filled years of your life.

3. Start Talking

Share these dreams, plans, and wishes with those most important to you. For whatever behavioral and emotional reasons, we tend to suppress way too many of our feelings, visions, and desires around money. Take a few people out for coffee and share your new approach to building the life and legacy of your dreams. At bare minimum this means your spouse, your executor, your beneficiaries, your pastor, your financial planner, and your accountability coach. There are many reasons why this makes good sense. Just to name a few…take your executor to an Executor’s Boot Camp (offered through the Foundation for Financial Wellness) and get them in shape.

Additionally, it’s great to begin speaking these wishes into reality; your accountability partner will love to know what’s on your heart and help keep you on track. And one last one, would be the old load bearing truth of “If you want to master something, try teaching it.” As you begin putting spoken words to your heart-felt “why”, you’ll begin to find holes in your thinking, gaps in your assumptions, and misunderstandings from your loved ones.

Wouldn’t you rather work on these things now, rather than leaving it up to interpretation once you’re gone?

Employers and employees alike, if you’d like to learn more about creating life and legacy plans, please fill out the form below

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Is financial anxiety impacting employee productivity?

Money management is one of the biggest silent struggles employees could be facing. Because financial stress is often viewed as a personal matter, it is among the last reasons supervisors or managers consider for low employee productivity, but data proves otherwise.  The 2021 PwC Financial Wellness Survey interviewed 1,600 full-time employed U.S. adults, 63 percent say their stress about finances has increased since the start of Covid-19.  According to the survey, these individuals are twice as likely to take out a loan from their retirement or postpone retirement all together.  

As an employer, offering financial wellness programs enables employees dealing with money dilemmas to get the critical support they need for personal and professional growth.  

 “Creating a safe space for employees to share their experiences with financial management and learn real-world techniques to change behaviors as it relates to money not only improves the individual, but the workplace,” said Brent Hines, Chief Development Officer at The Foundation for Financial Wellness.  

The most valuable financial wellness program for any organization  can be accomplished with the Foundation’s Flagship Course the 5 Essentials for Financial Wellness.

The 5 Essentials teaches employees to identify behavioral barriers and equip themselves with financial skills and preparedness such as.

Essential 1: Budgets, Savings and Debt presents the importance of emergency savings as a critical approach to cushion unexpected blows. Accumulating at least $1,000 in an emergency account is a great way to establish a feeling of safety when it comes to unplanned upsets.

This same Essential 1 Course also provides debt reduction methods that fit for a variety of individuals such as: the mathematical approach of paying off high-interest debt first or, the psychological approach for those who need to feel empowered to stay on course.

And let’s not forget to stay calm and properly manage our investments as presented in Essential 2: Investments – Getting Started & Retirement. Hopping out of the market during a big impact like COVID may seem like the safest thing to do at the time. But sticking to an investing goal that is well aligned with our financial lifetime phase is equally as important.

Whatever phase or crisis you’re in during your financial lifetime, the 5 Essentials for Financial Wellness can help you get on track, and stay on track, to build a solid foundation and achieve your life-long financial goals.

Foundation for Financial Wellness is an educational nonprofit that provides financial wellness courses and counseling to empower individuals to achieve their financial goals. Learn more about our employee programs.  

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When managing money goes over your head...

Who isn’t stressing over money nowadays? The truth is most of us are either in a financial crisis or just getting out of one. Financial anxiety is real and, at some point in our lives, happens to all of us.  

In fact, a recent study reveals financial anxiety among a majority of adult Americans was on the rise long before economic stress related to COVID-19. According to Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at George Washington University, 60 percent of the 19,000 Americans surveyed indicated feeling anxious when thinking about their personal finances, while 50 percent of respondents indicated feeling stressed when discussing their finances.  

As an employer or wellness practitioner, it is important to have solutions for individuals experiencing financial anxiety. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) 2020 Employee Financial Wellness Survey shares insights about financial concerns full-time employees in the U.S. are facing. In that survey, 58 percent of the employees polled say they are stressed about finances, and 50 percent admit that financial stress has been a distraction at work. 

Take the shame out of financial anxiety 

Create opportunities for open conversations about money management and financial stress through one-on-one conversations or workshops. As an employer, the first step is creating a work environment centered on whole-person wellness where employees have easy access to resources that address issues related to mental health, including financial anxiety. Resources can include a certified wellness professional, life coach, financial course, or licensed mental health professional. These resources should be promoted in multiple areas of a worksite and internal employee communications as a reminder to employees that help is available, and they don’t have to suffer in isolation. 

Get creative about promoting financial wellness 

Some companies use corporate challenges to teach valuable lessons in financial management. The challenges can center around saving money (which group saves the most money bringing their lunch to work instead of going out?) or paying off debt. This a subtle approach to addressing primary financial challenges many employees are facing.  

Offer a financial wellness course  

Science and math are taught in school but where do employees go for financial education? The GFLEC study shows that reliable financial education does matter! Significantly fewer study participants reported anxiety and stress regarding personal finances if they would have received financial education. The most successful financial wellness courses are scalable and customizable for your employees or clients and presented over multiple sessions. Check out the courses Foundation For Financial Wellness offers to individuals and companies.  

Empower your employees with money management solutions from The Foundation for Financial Wellness. Learn more about our 5 Essentials for Financial Wellness. 

 

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Why Financial Wellness is Critical to Your Business Plan

As more employees are feeling the stress of an unpredictable economy, employers are leaning into the idea of a comprehensive financial wellness strategy. Offering customized courses to help employees think differently about finances is a win for workplace culture while offering multiple benefits for organizations.  

Employees are feeling anxious about finances  

Financial anxiety is probably one of the biggest secrets employees are trying hard to keep private. Unfortunately, the stress shows up on the job and impacts productivity. A 2020 stress survey by John Hancock cited 39 percent of those surveyed before the pandemic were feeling financially stressed. That increased to 63 percent during the pandemic with those feeling extreme financial stress – a triple increase from 8 to 26 percent.  

 Financial wellness programs offer employees an opportunity to acknowledge their challenges with money management and build customized solutions. With an adequate financial wellness program, employees gain more confidence in long-term financial planning and avoid common pitfalls that lead to large debt.   

There is a demand for financial wellness education 

According to the 2020 survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), “78 percent of U.S. adults agree that considering what they already know about personal finance, they could still benefit from financial advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional.” 

The survey also revealed 1 in 4 U.S. adults would reach out to a professional non-profit credit counseling agency for assistance.  

A more productive workplace
Managing mounting financial debt impacts the workplace in multiple ways, including reduced productivity. The John Hancock Stress Survey shows 43% of workers spend at least some time on their personal finances while at work. Also noted in the survey, “Among those who worry about finances at work, close to half say their productivity would increase if they didn’t spend time at work worrying about personal finances.” 

A broader financial wellness program is a key element to reducing some of the work-related issues due to an employee’s financial anxiety. Other benefits could include a higher employee retention rate and an expanded pool of top talent.  

Among the many things revealed by the recent pandemic is that nothing is certain – and that includes financial security. Employers would benefit in the long-term with the addition of a financial wellness program to empower employees with the tools and knowledge to manage money today and into the future. 

Foundation for Financial Wellness is an educational nonprofit that provides financial wellness courses and counseling to empower individuals to achieve their financial goals. Learn more about our employee programs.  

Contact us to learn more about this and other financial wellness topics.

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