In today’s modern work culture, it’s safe to say that supporting the physical and emotional health of your employees has become a fairly standard practice. After all, the healthier your workforce, the better their performance. However, when it comes to the general welfare of their staff, there is still one important component that business owners continue to overlook: their financial wellness. So, what can you as a business owner do to help your employees feel more secure about their finances? In this episode, Jon Aidukonis, Gene Marks, and Grant Gallagher, Head of Financial Wellbeing and Brand Communications at Affinity Federal Credit Union, discuss how small business owners can support the financial wellness of their employees.
0:33—Today’s Topic: How Can I Promote Financial Wellness
Within My Small Business?
1:05—In contrast to traditional banks that are typically beholden to their shareholders, credit unions are only accountable to their members, all of whom serve as equal partners within the organization.
2:05—Not only can businesses become members of the co-op, but many credit unions actually offer resources and services that are specifically geared towards small business owners.
4:17—Financial wellness refers to a person’s emotional mindset with regards to their personal finances. Ultimately, your goal should be to address the stressful aspects of your financial practices so that you can have a more positive attitude when you deal with money.
5:38—A financial wellness professional will not only be able to provide you with the resources you need to alleviate some of your financial stressors, but they should also help you understand the full context of your situation to ensure that you’re not trying to live up to any unrealistic standards.
7:51—As a small business owner, the most effective way to support your employees’ financial wellness is to give them access to all the necessary resources, whether it be an app or a live professional who can offer them personalized advice.
10:20—The decision on whether to rely on technology or an actual person to help you manage your finances will ultimately come down to which one you’re most comfortable using.
11:44—If an employee chooses to work with a professional from your credit union, you need to assure them than anything they say will be kept strictly confidential between them and their financial advisor.
12:38—You should only invest in something if you have a fair estimate of its potential return.
14:17—One strategy you can use to keep your finances in order is to set up automation wherever you can, provided that you can maintain enough of a balance in each account.
15:14—Another way to promote your financial wellness is to try and plan out your expenditures and savings in advance.
18:10—When it comes to saving for the future, try to set different levels of goals according to the amount of time you think it will take to accomplish them. While you should hold yourself accountable for adhering to your savings plans, don’t be afraid to ask for support when those plans get derailed.
21:07—Experts have seen a definite correlation between an individual’s income level and the state of their financial wellness. The consistency of a person’s cash flow will also have a significant impact on a person’s financial views.
22:38—Setting future goals can improve your relationship to money by giving you something to look forward to; this in turn, will make tending to your finances a more rewarding experience.
23:09—Taking the time to audit your subscriptions or refinance your loans can also help you improve your cash flow, both in terms of your personal and business-related finances.
25:36—Cash flow forecasting needs to play a role in your regular financial practices too since this will enable you to determine whether you need to increase or decrease your current available capital. Even having a poor cash flow forecast is better than none.
29:19—The amount of savings that you need to have for emergencies is entirely based on your circumstances, such as your location, your available capital, and your personal comfort.
30:22—Even if you’re saving for future goals, you don’t need to adhere to a scarcity mindset. Give yourself permission to enjoy your money because this will improve your overall wellbeing.
The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are for informational purposes only, and solely those of the podcast participants, contributors, and guests, and do not constitute an endorsement by or necessarily represent the views of The Hartford or its affiliates.
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Gene: Hey everybody. Welcome back to The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. My name is Gene Marks and I am here with my co-host Jon Aidukonis, Jon, say hello to the crowd.
Jon: Hey everybody. How’s it going today? Thanks for listening again.
Gene: We have Grant Gallagher here. Grant is the head of financial wellbeing and brand communications Affinity Federal Credit Union. And we’re going to talk about finance wellness. So first of all, Grant, thank you very much for joining us.
Grant: Hey Gene. Hey Jon. Thanks for having me. Appreciate being on the podcast.
Gene: Yeah, I’m glad you’re here, so let’s get into it. So, first of all, two questions off the bat. Let’s talk about, first of all, Affinity Federal Credit Union. Talk to me a little bit about what Affinity does and just for our audience, because it’s always, I know you’ve probably been dealing with this your entire life. Explain to us what a credit union is compared to say a traditional bank or a financial services company.
Grant: Yeah, happy to go through that. Credit unions are member and cooperatives. So unlike a traditional bank where they have their shareholders that the business responds to, credit unions, we’re accountable to our members. Everybody who joins, it doesn’t matter if you have $5 with us or a million dollars with us, you’re an equal owner of the organization, and we take any sort of revenue that we do produce and put it back into the business to provide our members with better rates, fewer fees and whatever other perks and benefits we can come up with. We’re headquartered in New Jersey. We’re the largest credit union headquarter in New Jersey. And we have a branch footprint throughout New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Gene: Very cool. So our audience Grant are small business owners as well. So just to be clear you guys serve small businesses, right? I mean, small businesses as a company or individually and their employees can become members of your credit union, correct?
Grant: Absolutely. Yeah. We have a dedicated team for our business members. They provide hands on service, they make sure that they have all the products and services and solutions that they need. One of the common misconceptions about credit unions is that we don’t have the same product services or resources that the bigger national banks do, but that really hasn’t been the case for quite some time now. We are involved in everything you can imagine in the financial services industry and I like to think that we do it better most often. Anytime that a business member has a need, they can reach right out to somebody that they know. They’re not calling in just a general 1-800 number to get help, they have a representative that they know and they can reach out to and trust. And we do all of the basic banking services for small businesses, as well as commercial lending. We’re pretty big in that space as well. And we have a dedicated commercial lending team for any of those lending needs.
Gene: So your title is Head of Financial Wellbeing and Brand Communication. So tell me what that job-
Grant: So it has a couple different facets to it. I’ve actually been with the credit union since 2009 and doing different job functions. For a long time I was really focused on our financial education and health programming, providing seminars, educational content, really just making sure our membership knew what they needed to know to make sure they were living their best financial life.
Grant: Well, in the past few years, I’d say about three or four years ago, we’ve partnered up with some other credit unions and the world renowned research group Gallup, and we’ve started focusing a lot more on and our members’ financial wellbeing. So at that point, I started leading that initiative and have been digging into that for quite some time, making sure it was being integrated into everything that we do as an organization. So we’ve been doing that for quite some time now. And then there’s some other functions that I’m involved in. I’m leading many of our communication efforts. And I also am involved in some of our political and regulatory advocacy. So I do a little bit of a grand bag at the credit union, but I would say our first and foremost, most important thing that I focus on is our financial wellbeing as that’s truly core to who we are as an organization.
Gene: Fair enough. So how do you define financial wellbeing? What exactly does that mean?
Grant: So that’s a great question. Most people start to hear that a lot in the financial services space without actually knowing what it means. When we’re talking about financial wellbeing we’re talking about the emotional side of finances. We subscribe to the Gallup concept of wellbeing and that has five interconnected elements, financial being one piece of that. But the recognition is that your emotional state, your psychological state, really interconnects with many of these pieces, but you can’t live your best financial life if you’re suffering in any of these other areas. So what we’re really trying to do is make sure that our members and the community at large, have the tools and information and resources that they need so that their finances isn’t just a pain point for them. It’s not just a source of stress. It’s something that they look forward to as a resource to enable them to live their best life, to look forward and achieve their dreams.
Gene: Yeah, it makes complete sense. I mean there’s such an awareness right now about overall wellbeing, there’s mental health wellbeing, there’s overall health wellness, and then there’s financial wellness. And are you seeing your small business members rise to that? Have they taken more interest in financial wellbeing over the past couple of years?
Grant: Absolutely. It’s out of necessity. The world has been so constantly changing with new things coming up all the time. And any of those small business owners who were either just starting out or weren’t really too far down the path of business ownership and their entrepreneurship, they were probably struggling a lot and it was probably a very stressful time for them. And they really needed somebody to be there, to help guide them, help put things in context and make sure that they had the resources that they need to weather the storm. The reality is whether it’s a business member or a personal member, everybody has some sort stress around their finances. And really what we try to do is make sure that they both have those resources that they need, but also understand the context of their situation.
Grant: One of the things that we see a lot is people come to us and they are in a decent financial shape. They’re comparing themselves to the people around them and if their neighbors do a lot better, they have a Lexus in the driveway, but their neighbor has a Tesla they’re like “oh, I’m doing terrible.” But the reality is they have a steady income stream, they’re working towards their goals, they’re looking to their future. Putting that in context is really something a lot of people need sometimes, is to understand that keeping up with the Jones’ doesn’t necessarily move that you’re in a bad space. You kind of have to reflect on your own financial situation to really see how you’re doing and understand that contextually.
Gene: That’s fair enough. I actually think that Tesla’s are kind of over-hyped right now. I mean I don’t even know where you would plug them in when you live in a city. So that whole issue’s got to be figured out, but I get it. I’ve seen a lot of Tesla’s around and that does have a bit of a status to them. So Grant, so I run a company, I’ve got 10 employees I’m interested. I want to make sure that they’re feeling good financially, right?
Gene: I mean like that they’re managing their finances well cause I’m assuming that the better my employees feel about their finances, the better they will do at their jobs. Right? So-
Grant: That is a sound assumption. There is research that backs that.
Gene: Speak to me a little bit about what I, as a business owner should be doing. And how would you work with me? Say I’m a member of Affinity and what would you do to get my employees feeling good about their finances?
Grant: I mean, one is just having the tools that make it easy to manage your finances. If it’s something that is difficult to do, if it’s hard to really track your payments, track your bills, a lot of people won’t do it. They’ll shy away from it. It’ll kind of be this mysterious, unknown lurking in the background, and it’ll become a source of stress. So it’s really having them have resources available to them, to easily look at their financial situation, easy access to loans when they need it, and just a workable way to have those tools to work through it. And if they get to a point where they’re going down a path where they’re like “I don’t know what my future looks like, I’m having trouble managing my finances,” somebody they can reach out to.
Grant: And that’s one of the things that we’re really passionate about, is helping our members and member service excellence. Where if the member comes to us and needs to talk through budgeting, setting goals, really anything in their financial life, we’re not just looking to give them products and services. We’re looking to give them real solid advice that gets them on the path they need to be on, to get where they want to go. And we do that through various ways with a lot of the traditional products and services.
Grant: But one of the benefits that we do offer our membership is free credit counseling through multiple agencies. So if that individual is… Their credit score is not where they want it to be, they can take advantage of that service for free to get hyper customized advice, to tell them exactly what they need to do to get back on track, get their credit score where they want to be, give them a timeline as to how long that’s going to take and really just set them on that path to success. When they’re feeling good about their finances, like I said before, it cascades into those other four areas of their life. And their just overall emotional state is much more solid.
Gene: Sure. You know, it’s funny, I have some clients and actually some larger clients as well. I’m thinking of my son where he works at a very large company. They provide them with apps like ‘Here’s a financial wellness app’. So it will help you if you want to…”Do I buy or lease my next car? Do I rent or do I buy a home? Or how much I be putting away for college?” It seems to me though that these kinds of things can’t all be answered with technology, right?
Gene: I mean you need people and an advisor involved. So is what you’re saying that your firm and firms like yours, like Affinity, if they really have their act together and they’re really servicing a small business well, they are probably providing some technology but also providing a human touch as well for their employees. Can you speak to that?
Grant: No, that’s totally accurate. It’s great to have on demand technology that you can use to help you make choices. There’s no doubt about that. But a lot of this has to do with trust. If you don’t feel like that app really understands your situation, if there’s some complexity that doesn’t fit into this very specific questionnaire that they’ve set up for you, you might not really trust what’s coming out the other end when it’s making that recommendation.
Grant: On the other hand if there’s a live person that you can talk to and they can empathize and understand your overall situation and maybe ask you about some things that are coming up, that they can just in intuitively identify. If you mention that you have kids going off to school soon, well student loans is probably a pretty big pain point for you and something you’re concerned about. And you can weave that into the conversation as well. The reality is the best tools to manage your finances are the ones you’re comfortable with and the ones you’ll actually use. Doesn’t matter how fancy and flashy an app is,, if you feel like it’s not connecting with you, if it’s not the right solution you’re not going to use it. And it’s not a useful tool for you.
Gene: I agree. Do any of your clients or your members actually ever bring up an issue of confidentiality or privacy? Would employees say “Oh, I don’t know if I want to talk to the person at my business owner’s credit union, because they’re going to turn right around and tell her or him about some financial problems that I’m having.” Does that issue ever get brought up or how do you address that?
Grant: That’s a good point. We’re fully confidential. We fully just serve as trusted financial advisors to our members whenever we have that opportunity. It’s really against pretty much all banking regulations to share that sort of information with anybody except for the individual you’re talking to. There really shouldn’t be that concern if anybody’s discussing their personal finances, but the number one thing that we always go back to is trust is so important in everything that we do. That is our number one asset that we can’t lose. So that’s really at the foremost importance whenever we’re having conversations with anybody.
Gene: That’s great. All right well I’m going to turn you over to Jon, but before I do just quick personal financial question. I’m thinking of sinking all of my money in crypto sometime next week. Is that okay? Can I make that move?
Grant: Well it’s one of those things where the markets, they go up and down. And listen, I have to laugh because I actually was on a symposium a few months back and somebody was asking me about investing in crypto and I told them this. I was like “Listen, do you understand what it is?” That’s the first question. If the answer is no, no don’t invest in it.
Grant: The second question was ‘Is there anything that you feel more comfortable at investing in that you feel like you have a fair estimate on what your return will be?’ And they were like “Well, yeah. If I play the stock market, I feel a little bit more comfortable that I’ll get single digit to maybe up to 10% returns.” It’s like, okay, that’s great. Do you have any loans that have a interest rate that’s higher than what that return is? They’re like “Yeah, I got a credit card that I’m working down.” Well there’s your answer. That credit card, you’re paying more on interest than you’re going to get back on that investment. So that’s what you should be working on.
Gene: All right. Well, thanks Grant. But a Bitcoin man, I’m telling you really, I think it’s going somewhere. Anyway, go ahead, Jon. I know you’ve got a bunch of questions.
Jon: Awesome. Yeah. Grant, I’m curious about… When I think about financial wellness or kind of when we talk about it broadly as a society, so much of it’s a reaction. So we need to get our finances together for something, or because we went through something or we’re kind of making up for lost time. So when kind of thinking about things we can do every day or kind of to avoid having to play catch up, or when things are good, when we’re not thinking about how we can be better or recover, what are some things people could or should do to kind of build a routine that lets them keep a pulse check on it and kind of get things course corrected before they kind of go off the rails.
Grant: Yeah, no, that’s a great question, a good point, Jon. The number one thing that I’m always an advocate for is setting up automation wherever you can. If you can automate your bills and you feel comfortable making sure that you have enough money in your account to have that payment automatically go, do it. There’s probably not a lot of value for you sitting down and looking at a statement and cutting a check every month. As I mentioned before, if you’re not comfortable automating, then you’re just going to have to suffer through that approach. Anytime you can cut back on the amount of paperwork that you’re getting from your financial institution, you should try to take advantage of that. I’m a big advocate of online statements, but that stuff only works if you’re actually looking at it, if you’re actually paying attention.
Grant: I like to think of my mom as the perfect example of this, where she’s old school, traditional, mailing in her paper checks and getting her paper statements. But that works for her. For the rest of us, if I was getting a paper statement, that’s paper work. That’s now something I have to shred or have to remember to file and maybe look at in three or four years from now. Anything that you can do to plan things out as well is critical. You don’t want to be a day late and a dollar short on any of your bills. So making sure that you are aware of everything that’s coming out, coming up, operating as it should.
Grant: I tell everybody they should be looking at all of their accounts at least once a month to make sure there’s nothing suspicious going on, there’s no fraud. I mean, there’s so much out there in that space that if you’re not looking at your money for a month, there could definitely be something going on that you’re not aware of.
Grant: There’s so much technology at our hands these days where popping open an app and looking at your accounts for a couple minutes once a week is super easy to do and scheduling that and regimenting it so you’re not forgetting about it is… You can be waiting in line to get gas and just do it there, it’s really simple. But no matter what you’re doing, it’s really important that you have some sort of plan or budget in place that you’re working towards.
Grant: Too many people just kind go with the flow and are trying to do things last minute to manage their finances, where if you have set up a plan and you’re sticking to it, it’s that much easier to identify when you go off that plan. You’re kind of stopping the bleeding before you’re really starting to get into a downfall spiraling situation. But again, it’s setting up at that consistent habit and paying attention to your money.
Grant: One of the things that I like to encourage people to do when they’re working towards a goal, there’s usually a saving component to it. And the simplest way and the best way to save towards that goal is automating that. Setting up automatic transfers, whether it’s a monthly transfer from an account you know there’s going to be funds in, whether it’s taking a payroll allocation, part of your paycheck going towards it. Putting that on autopilot is the best way to reach what you’re trying to achieve because the second you have to sit down and actually manually move money, that’s when you feel the pain of it. Setting up that automatic transfer, that’s not going to be painful. You’re just going to be thinking about the end state of how good it’s going to feel to be on that vacation or on retirement or whatever you’re saving for.
Jon: It’s true. I mean, I do a lot with kind of the auto funds cause it prevents me from not following through with myself. I feel like I’m good at honoring my commitments to everyone else. But I think about your common end goals. And when you think about financial goals and probably more in that commercial space too, how do you kind of recommend people start to think about those? So I feel like a lot of us are super ambitious for like in 10 years from now, I want this big flashy thing, or this is kind of like my end state, but I feel like sometimes those can be a little bit hard to take action on. So when you think about what you’ve seen in success and whether it’s coaching or counseling or what your team does, is there a kind of timeline that most people tend to be most successful around or ways to kind of build into some of the bigger or more bold assertions without kind of getting off track?
Grant: So yeah, that’s a great question. And typically what I recommend is setting different levels of goals, looking out one year, five years, 10 years. That 10 year goal is always going to kind of be a BHAG kind of imaginary best end state. But when you look out that far, you then want to kind of work backwards into smaller bite size chunks. A lot of people when they’re thinking about their goals, it’s just overwhelming because it’s such a big thing to think about, “Wow, I’m saving up for retirement, I’m going to need a million dollars or probably even more these days.” And that just seems unachievable. But when you break it down, you’re are like “Oh, a paycheck amount of a couple hundred dollars. That’s not quite so overwhelming.” So breaking that down, having different short, medium, long term goals is really important as to how you can stay on track for that.
Grant: But the other thing is, it’s not the end of the world if you fall off track. It’s really just your motivation and your willingness to sit down, look at your situation, probably talk to somebody who can kind of take a step back and see the flowers from the trees and help you build that plan to get back on track. Because unless you’ve really hit some sort of devastating life milestone where it’s no longer achievable, it’s pretty unlikely that you can’t find a way to get back on track and start to save or start to do those activities that you need to reach your goals.
Grant: One of the key things that we really tell people when we’re talking about financial wellbeing is looking at what’s within your control and what’s important and if it’s a something that’s not important, well stop wasting your mental capital on it. It’s not worth your time. And if it’s changeable and in your control, then work on that, work on trying to change it. But if it’s something that you have no power over and it’s just going to happen to you, accept it. It’s not worth the stress. It’s not worth the energy. Really focus on those changeable, controllable important things, because that’s where you can make the difference. And that’s where you can work towards what you want to achieve.
Jon: And it’s interesting your kind of correlation with financial wellness and mental wellness or kind of mindset. And I do wonder a little bit, because I feel like there’s the old adage, right? “Money can’t by happiness.” But when you don’t have money, it’s very easy to become unhappy or stressed or kind of get into that mental spiral of not being able to figure out what the next step is, right. Usually a financial crisis is a severe one. So what are some things people can do, aside from I guess being very organized and committed and saying, “I’m always going to have a rainy day fund,” but when someone does kind of hit that moment to your point, and it feels like things are going off track, like how do you kind of inspire them to think about that? So is it really kind of a mindset exercise first? Is it let’s put the fire out? Like what are some kind of things people might think about if they’re under a little bit of cash stress right now.
Grant: I like your money can’t by happiness. And one of, I don’t know who to attribute to, but it’s “Money can’t by happiness but it’s a lot harder to cry when you’re driving in a Ferrari.” So it’s interesting because there actually is a correlation between the amount of income somebody’s earning and their financial wellbeing. I’ve heard different numbers here, and I think it’s because the research is dated, but it’s like $75,000 to $100,000 in income is kind of where diminishing returns start to happen with happiness. So you have some higher levels of wellbeing when you have those better levels of income, but then they start to drop off with diminishing returns.
Grant: But that being said, that doesn’t mean that anybody under those thresholds can’t find financial wellbeing, they can’t find happiness. It’s just that it’s a little bit more work and it’s a little bit more effort. A lot of that really ties to income stability. As long as you’re having a positive cash flow at the end of the month and if you’re not in that point, that’s your number one goal. You need to figure out how you’re paying all the bills, having some sort of money left over so you can actually go out and enjoy your money. If money is nothing but a source of pain and frustration, that’s how it’s always going to be associated, that’s how it’s going to be. It’s just going to be a source of stress. You need to figure out your cash flow situation so that you can get to that point and that’s a budgeting exercise, that’s sitting down with a credit counselor.
Grant: The next piece is setting those goals, if you don’t already have them. That’s really a key point to get to, because you’re then going to start to look forward about your financial situation. It’s not, always present day, it’s not always current state. It’s not thinking about putting the next meal on the pit table or living paycheck to paycheck. It’s maybe that date night that you’re saving up for, maybe it’s that trip you’re saving up for. So it’s those associations. But there’s a lot of little tricks too to make sure that you’re building a positive cash flow. And it’s the one we all probably fall victim to is our subscriptions. You got to go and you got to audit your subscriptions. Do you need Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple Plus? It’s like, you can only watch one thing at a time. So maybe you don’t need five video subscriptions in a month. And same thing with the cable bills. Some people that still have cable bill packages, are paying hundreds of dollars a month for stuff they’re not even watching.
Grant: So that’s kind of low hanging fruit that we’ll look at. Another one is consolidating or paying off high interest loans. If you have any sort of loans that are over 10%, there’s probably an opportunity to consolidate them, and refi them, get a lower interest rate and just overall reduce your payments. And the same even applies to lower interest rate loans that are a couple years old. The interest rate environment and everyone’s personal situation changes significantly, usually over a couple of years. So if you have a loan, that’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years old, and you haven’t looked at rates recently, you haven’t explored a refi, you could probably refinance that loan and save on your monthly payment, if not just paying lower interest on a monthly basis helps you cash flow as well.
Grant: So those are just some basic things that most people can do. And none of those things fall into your bucket of improving your financial life, talk with somebody who you trust and you feel is knowledgeable at your finances and they can look at your picture too and give you some advice and probably see something that you haven’t seen before, just because you’re so close to it. You’re living your day to day finances and not really recognizing the opportunities there.
Jon: Yeah. I think that’s interesting because even though those skew a little bit more towards what we all can do as people, I think even as a business owner, when it comes to things like subscriptions, right? We all have vendors that we work with. You probably have growing capabilities. So I’m a big fan of kind going through an audit every now and then like, “Can I get the service from someone I’m already doing business with? Are there rooms to write size contracts?”
Jon: So Grant, if you listen to our podcast, you know that I am the restaurant analogy king, but I’d rather have money in my bank account than on my shelf. So are you regularly kind of going through those inventory exercises if you’re in a retail environment or kind of a food service and making sure that your orders are the right size because I don’t think it can be said enough. It’s really kind of the liquidity you have access to more so than kind of the total network that can make a difference in how you feel day to day. So I am a hundred percent with you there.
Grant: And to that point too, it’s also important to look forward as much as you can from a cashflow perspective. Maybe you have an operating line of credit that covers you for today, but are you planning to grow? Are you planning to expand? Are you maybe going to hit some rainy days coming up because you have some seasonal business. All things that you should think about when you’re looking at your financial situation and maybe it’s worthwhile reaching out to increase the amount of capital available to you so you can weather those bumpy days. It doesn’t always have to be a cut back on cost. It can also be on the other side as well, increasing your capital.
Gene: I got to jump in for just a second. I know Jon loves to talk about restaurants and you know, Grant, I’m a CPA. So I do a lot of financial consulting and I tell you my best clients follow your advice to the tee. They’re always looking ahead. They’re forecasting themselves out. And when I talk to some of my clients that have been in business for decades, they do rolling forecasts. They’re looking out 90 or 120 days ahead of them. So they know if there’s any big expenditures coming. They know if there’s any tax payments or bumps from the road ahead.
Gene: And for those of you guys listening, doing a forecast, it’s not as tough as you think. You take your year to date numbers from QuickBooks to your accounting system and you know what your overhead is every month, you know what your margins are, you can estimate those. The tricky thing is just forecasting your sales. But if you’ve been in business for a few years, you should be used to what your sales are normally that time of year. You can always ask your sales people for backlog and quotes that are outstanding. You can figure it out, at least for the next 90 days. And that way, I’m telling you, when you know what’s coming down the pike, you can manage your cash so much better, and manage your wealth better as well. So that’s my two cents of advice that I wanted to make sure I got in here.
Grant: The worst thing you could do in that situation is just not even try. Even a bad forecast is better than no forecast at all.
Gene: Yeah, I agree. And the other thing I just want to say that my clients say, “Okay it’s a pain in the neck when you first started out, particularly if you’re not that used to doing it, so work with a financial advisor.” But once you get it down after the first two or three times of doing it, it becomes pretty repetitive and routine for you to do. Yeah, you do it once a month and again, like I said, my best clients, they try to minimize their surprises. You know what I mean? Sorry, Jon, back to you.
Jon: No, it’s good advice. I think like anything it’s a learned skill, right? The more you do it, the better you’re going to get. So there’s no harm in kind of building that it into your practice. But Grant, I am interested in when we think about the lending side too. So I think the past couple years have been interesting. I think people are thinking about money very differently. I think they’re thinking about long term saving very differently. And as we start to enter a phase of what feels like, I’m going to knock on one cautiously. Yeah. Is that the way to say this? Talk about entering what feels like more of a coexistence, what this new normal is. It feels like you’re also starting to see people start to splurge again too, or kind of make big decisions, right.
Jon: So I think about kind of like the housing bubble right now, or people kind of thinking about new cars or what that means in terms of vacations and kind of things that start to kind of have a financial burden. What advice would you give to people thinking about kind of taking a splurge and how sometimes do you determine how much you have available to your point to go out and enjoy versus like what’s really kind of a comfortable limit to sometimes have in the backend, right. Because I think you hear a lot of metrics going out there, like have three months of savings or be able to support yourself for a year or two months of business expenses. Is there a right answer to that?
Grant: That’s the tricky one, it depends. Everybody’s situation is really different, even just depending on where you live in the country can have a big impact on how much savings you really should have. Personally, I am much more conservative and if I don’t have more than six months of savings in my account accessible to me, I feel uncomfortable. I get a little anxious and jumpy. But some people, they’re very confident in their situation. They’re very comfortable having less available to them. And sometimes it’s not actually about having cash on hand. It’s about the capital that you have too. If you have a home equity line of credit or a low interest credit card that you feel comfortable using as that emergency fund in a situation, then you don’t necessarily have to worry about the cash.
Grant: I don’t necessarily recommend for most people to borrow when they can use their own savings, but it all just depends on what capital and what interest rates are available to you and what you feel comfortable with. Part of that too is, going back to what I mentioned before, it’s important to enjoy your money. It’s important to make sure that it is a source of enjoyment as well. And one of the things that the research has shown through Gallup is that experiential spending has a much bigger impact to than tangible items, spending money on things. So if you have to spend a little bit more to go on that trip versus buying that item that you’re probably going to forget about in a couple of months, go out and splurge a little bit and make sure you’re bringing friends and family along to create those memories, because those are really going to just boost your overall mental state for a much longer period of time.
Grant: And you’ll come back and who knows how your mental state could be after that. You could be ready to rock and roll and more productive than ever and really take your business to the next level. And in that case, you’re paying off dividends on probably what’s a pretty small investment in the grand scheme of things.
Jon: That’s very true. And I think it’s good advice. Gene, any other questions that you got for Grant today?
Gene: No, I am good. Grant, I’ll let you know how that Bitcoin investment goes. I really appreciate your advice and telling me to put all my assets in there. And I think that was very prude of you. So thank you.
Jon: And I’m going to counter one of his points. I think you should go for the Maserati versus the Tesla or the Ferrari.
Grant: Oh very nice.
Gene: That’s really my style. Have you looked at me lately, Jon, I’m an accountant, I’m buying a Honda Accord.
Jon: I just don’t feel like you can beat an Italian leather seat. Grant, Gene, it’s been a pleasure talking to you both today. I think we got some good advice and good information for our audience. Really appreciate your perspective on wellness and really thinking about money as a tool to kind of take the next step and to reach what you’re aspiring to versus kind of being a source of headache. Because I think if anything, we’ve learned over the past couple years that the human capability to be resilient and to really kind of direct our mindset and stay focused and overcoming challenges is pretty remarkable. So appreciate the time and all of you listening, we appreciate you. We wouldn’t be here without you. So make sure you check out other episodes of Small Biz Ahead on the blog, sba.thehartford.com. Let us know in the comments if you like content like this, or if you have any questions and we’ll be sure to link to some resources about financial planning, budgeting, forecasting in the show notes below. So until the next one, we hope everyone has a great day.
Gene: Take care.
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