by Chris Kilbourne
January is National Financial Wellness Month, which presents a good opportunity to start your training year off with a “soft” yet important wellness session on finances. Why? Personal financial problems can be a huge distraction for your employees and could cause them to lose focus on the job and take unsafe actions. Today’s Advisor gives you solid information for training on financial wellness.
Celebrating a new year is a good time for employees to take a new look at their finances. Encourage employees this year to approach their financial health with the same wellness attitude they bring to their physical health.
For example, start your training sessions by giving employees this holistic list of what financial wellness looks like:
- Living within your means
- Managing debt successfully
- Saving for the future
- Investing wisely
- Having a cushion in case of emergencies
- Avoiding financial problems
Based on this list, ask employees if their finances are in good shape. Explain to them that just as physical wellness combines healthful eating with regular exercise, financial wellness combines asset acquisition with debt management.
Asset examples include:
- Cash and bank accounts
- 401(k) and IRAs
- Personal property, including homes, cars, boats, and jewelry
Debt examples include:
- Credit card debt
- Car loans
- Other loans
- Outstanding bills
Reiterate that just as employees take several steps to achieve physical wellness, they need to take several actions to achieve financial wellness. One action is to take stock of their financial wellness action plan. Give them the Finance Checkup in the next section.
Ask employees if they are taking all the right steps to get into good financial shape. Give them this checklist to do their own personal financial checkup. Do they:
- Have a budget for monthly spending?
- Stick to your budget?
- Take steps to control spending if you’re overextended?
- Save every year?
- Take full advantage of your 401(k)?
- Understand investment options?
- Invest wisely, considering the risks?
- Know what kind of investor you are—conservative, moderate, or aggressive?
- Choose credit cards wisely, and use them carefully?
- Pay credit card and other bills on time?
- Pay off as much of credit card balances as you can each month?
- Know your credit score?
- Know how to improve your credit score?
- Check your credit report annually?
- Think carefully before you take out loans?
- Read the fine print on loan contracts, and understand interest charges?
- Take prompt action when you experience financial problems?
- Consult a reputable financial counselor if you need help?
- Handle major life events successfully from a financial point of view?
Why It Matters
- According to a CareerBuilder® survey, around three-quarters of working Americans live from paycheck to paycheck.
- Another study from the American Psychological Association showed that financial problems are the number one cause of chronic stress and lead to as much as 25% of American employees missing work because of stress-related issues.
- These workers can miss up to 16 days a year.