The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools

In the midst of the Great Resignation, with employers scrambling for ways to hang on to experienced staff, financial wellness programs might be an attractive addition to the benefits bag.

That was a key finding from PwC’s annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which was conducted in January 2021 and released in April. Among those polled, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. About 57 percent of workers who hadn’t yet faced increased financial stress said the same thing.

Financial stress doesn’t just affect worker retention; it also has an impact on productivity. PwC’s survey showed that 45 percent of workers experiencing financial setbacks have been distracted at work by their money problems. The menu of financial wellness tools employers might elect include educational tools for personal finances, one-on-one financial coaching, and even access to rainy day funds.

It’s a growing business sector, too. HoneyBee, a B2B financial wellness startup, recently closed a round of funding with $5.7 million in equity, TechCrunch reported. The financial technology company grew 225 percent during the pandemic and saw a 175 percent increase in usage for its on-demand financial therapy tools. Origin also recently announced that it raised $56 million in its Series B funding round, which it will use for customer expansion, as it saw increased demand for financial planning services during the pandemic, Business Wire notes.

Although one in five workers waits until they experience a financial setback to seek guidance, when they are offered continual support, employees are more likely to be proactive with their finances. According to the PwC survey, 88 percent of workers who are provided financial wellness services by their employers take advantage of them.

By Rebecca Deczynski, Staff reporter, Inc.@rebecca_decz

Source: The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools | Inc.com

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Critics:

Making money is definitely the cornerstone of financial wellness and increasing your income can help you obtain your goals. You do not need to be a millionaire, but it’s important to obtain some level of income stability. Being financially well starts with having a reliable income and knowing at a consistent time, you will expect to be paid a certain amount. Steady and reliable income is one of the cornerstones of financial wellness.

Even if you don’t like budgeting or planning, it’s good to set goals for yourself. You are more likely to stick with it when you have goals to reach and can see progress. By creating a plan, you are visualizing the what, why, and how you will get there. If you don’t already have a household budget, grab your most recent bank statement and look at the total amount of money you have coming into your household each month. Then, factor in fixed, required expenses – things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, and more.

f you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start building it. The goal of an emergency fund is to have available funds for when you are dealing with unemployment or you have an unforeseen cost. You won’t stress about the money because you have a nice cash reserve that you can access quickly. Finance experts often say that you should have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. If you have nothing in savings, putting away just $25, $50, or $100 a month is an amazing start. Ultimately, it’s what you feel comfortable with. You can also consider putting it in a high savings investment such as CIT Bank’s Savings Builder, which helps put your savings to work with very little risk.

Once you get a handle on your finances, you can start to map out life events and large purchases, so you can begin saving! Planning ahead is always helpful, and once you get a handle on your current financial plan, set some goals for what comes next. By building a plan, you have a road map to help guide you through the rest of your story. Putting even a small amount into savings on a consistent basis is one of the best ways to get your savings to grow so you can meet your goals, small or large. Set your own personal savings rule to live by and make a plan on how to achieve it. Prepare for life events and large purchases by planning ahead.

Your credit score is another critical part of your financial health. Things like late payments, too much debt or high balances negatively affect your credit score. Keep watch over your credit report and credit score with a free credit report from places like Credit Karma. A higher credit score tells banks and lenders that you’re a reliable and less risky borrower. 

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Curious About Crypto? Here’s What 10 Financial Experts Think

A photo to accompany a story about financial experts' advice for investing in cryptocurrency

Everyday investors are overflowing with cryptocurrency questions, according to the financial advisors hired to answer them.

There is clearly an “emotional euphoria that seems to be sweeping through the public around cryptocurrency,” says Frederick Stanfield, a CFP with Lifewater Wealth Management in Atlanta, Georgia.

But for the average person focused on retirement planning and financial stability, is it time to consider investing in cryptocurrency?

The answer is complicated, so we asked financial advisors for their crypto advice, and here’s what 10 of them are telling clients. In an emerging field with few set rules and norms, we discovered some universal truths that everyone should know before putting money in cryptocurrency.

First of all, financial advisors say a healthy dose of skepticism is a crucial place to start, and you should never invest in crypto if it takes away from other goals and financial fundamentals like paying off debt, building an emergency fund, or maxing out your retirement accounts.

As difficult as it may be, do not become seduced by the intrigue and allure of this new technology, says Stanfield. Instead, employ the same mindset you bring to your regular investment strategy.

Here’s what else the experts want you to know about cryptocurrency investing:

Be Prepared for Loss

As with any investment, financial gains are far from guaranteed with cryptocurrency investing. For some financial advisors, crypto looks more like a lottery ticket than an investment strategy.

That means you should only put in what you’re OK with losing. “On a spectrum between gambling and investing, I think it’s closer to the former,” says Matt Morris, principal advisor at Sanderling Finance in Columbia, South Carolina.

As a high-risk, high-reward investment, keep any crypto investments in perspective amid your broader goals and finances. As with certain types of gambling, “you have a high chance of losing it all, but a small chance of winning it big,” says Nate Nieri, a CFP with Modern Money Management in San Diego, California. “Just don’t gamble an amount that would burden your family or prevent you from achieving your goals” if you lost it all.

Steer Clear if You’re Risk Averse

If you’re risk averse, crypto isn’t the investment for you.“How well can you sleep at night knowing that this is an emerging asset class with high volatility? And if you were to wake one morning to find that crypto has been banned by the developed nations and it became worthless, would you be OK?” asks Stanield.

If you’re going to be constantly stressing about your crypto investment, or tempted to change your investments in light of the volatility that comes with crypto, then you’re better off putting your money in a more stable investment, according to Stanfield.

“I believe it is still in its infancy stage, and just like any new fund or IPO, there is a level of uncertainty about the future that I’m not ready to stomach,” says Alajahwon Ridgeway, owner of Ridgeway Wealth Management in Lafayette, Louisiana. “I believe it … is an unnecessary risk at this point for my clients to reach their financial goals.”

There’s also far less historical data available about cryptocurrency to help investors make informed decisions — unlike conventional ETF and index/mutual funds. Crypto investors face additional risk in the form of poor or inaccurate trade data, competition among fellow investors, theft, loss of wallet passwords, supply and demand issues, government regulation, and energy consumption concerns, says Chelsea Rude, a CFP at Rude Wealth Advisory in Olney, Illinois.

“Most importantly for investors, there is a lack of a well designed and tested way to value the assets,” Rude says. This means crypto investors are essentially going in blind, and subjecting themselves to the uncertainty that comes with any new business or investment

Know Why You’re Interested In the First Place

Some people see crypto as an emerging investment, while others see it as an interesting new global currency you can use instead of the U.S. dollar or other international currencies. But whether crypto has long-term staying power on either front is still uncertain.

“I strongly believe the vast majority of people who own crypto currency are doing so for all the wrong reasons and misunderstanding what they are truly buying,” says Ben Lies, chief investment officer at Delphi Advisers.

Many experts are concerned about people dumping their money into crypto without real understanding of the area. Do your own research, and make sure you’re thinking about your investment in the right way.

“Hype and excitement around the space are not reasons for inclusion into any portfolio, but I believe there are compelling reasons to consider cryptocurrencies,” says James Vermillion, owner of Vermillion Private Wealth in Lexington, Kentucky. “When discussing crypto with clients I emphasize education and understanding. It’s important to note that there are thousands of cryptocurrencies in existence and they are not created equally. Due diligence is important, just as it is when looking at stocks or other investment vehicles.”

Nieri warns those who see Bitcoin as a currency to think about what that means for investing. “I don’t typically trade or have a currency hedge as part of my investment strategy. Would you have ever thought about trading dollars for Euros as an investment? In order for Bitcoin to be a legitimate currency, the world’s governments would need to accept it as a global currency, something that has a remote likelihood,” Nieri says.

Keep Crypto In Its Place

Don’t rely on crypto investments for your retirement or overall financial strategy. Make sure the majority of your investment portfolio is made up of stable assets projected for long-term growth.

“What I am sharing for [my clients] to do is build their future financial pie with investments such as stocks and bonds. If there is extra money they want to play with, buying crypto is an option,” says Eric Powell, financial advisor and founder of the Future Mill.

Make sure your overall investment portfolio is predominantly made up of conventional investments like stocks and bonds, says Powell. But within any crypto investments you might have, experts recommend sticking with the big names.

“I personally do not go beyond Bitcoin and or Ethereum,” says Michael Kelly, a CFA at Switchback Financial in Madison, Connecticut.  “I feel those two have a bit more of an established base and feel the risk of other coins becomes too significant.”

By:

 

Source: Curious About Crypto? Here’s What 10 Financial Experts Think | NextAdvisor with TIME

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Decentralized finance (commonly referred to as DeFi) is a blockchain-based form of finance that does not rely on central financial intermediaries such as brokerages, exchanges, or banks to offer traditional financial instruments, and instead utilizes smart contracts on blockchains, the most common being Ethereum.[1] DeFi platforms allow people to lend or borrow funds from others, speculate on price movements on a range of assets using derivatives, trade cryptocurrencies, insure against risks, and earn interest in savings-like accounts.[2]

DeFi uses a layered architecture and highly composable building blocks.[3] Some DeFi applications promote high interest rates[2] but are subject to high risk.[1] By October 2020, over $11 billion (worth in cryptocurrency) was deposited in various decentralized finance protocols, which represented more than a tenfold growth during the course of 2020.[4][2] As of January 2021, approximately $20.5 billion was invested in DeFi.[5]

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References

Braun, Alexander; Cohen, Lauren H.; Xu, Jiahua (May 2020). “fidentiaX: The Tradable Insurance Marketplace on Blockchain”. Harvard Business School. Retrieved 2021-01-05.

5 Personal-Finance Mistakes That Kill Promising Companies

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For most people, personal- mistakes affect only themselves. For entrepreneurs, a personal-finance slip-up can have far-reaching consequences. People who get into tight financial spots while running their businesses must make difficult choices about which bills to pay, which opportunities to let go and which partners to leave.

Founders of startups are no strangers to running lean, but that’s no reason to add to the pile. Good personal-finance habits set entrepreneurs up for success by empowering them to focus their energies on the growth of their companies. Bad habits take their attention away from their businesses and hinder their ability to expand.

Don’t let your focus on your company lead you to neglect your own affairs. Watch out for these common personal-finance mistakes, and take proactive measures to keep your life (and your startup’s growth) on track.

Letting your score slip

No matter how far off the grid you try to run, your credit score follows you. , personal loans, and even insurance premiums all depend at least partially on your credit score. Fail to pay attention to yours, and you could quickly find yourself paying exorbitant interest rates — if you qualify for credit at all.

Take time to familiarize yourself with the different aspects that contribute to your credit score. According to Chime, there’s more than one model that can be used to determine your score, but overall, total credit usage, balances and available credit are most influential. Understand the contributors to your credit score so you can take advance measures to keep your numbers high.

Carrying high-interest debt

Not all debt is bad debt, but some debts can become nightmares if you aren’t careful. Student loans tend to have reasonable rates, even though high balances can make them look intimidating. Payday loans and credit card balances carry much higher interest rates than comparable lines of credit. According to WalletHub, the average credit card interest rate hovers around 19 percent; Debt.org reports that payday loans charge several times that, sometimes as high as 500 percent.

Take inventory of all your outstanding debts, along with their interest rates. Then, start paying the minimum amount on all but the debt with the highest rate, pouring as much toward that bill as you can. When you finish paying that one, rinse and repeat the process.

Not building an

carries substantial risk, even for people on solid financial footing. Go in without a backup plan, and you could find yourself wondering how to pay rent tomorrow. An emergency fund insulates you from short-term problems and gives you wiggle room when you have to wait a while between income sources.

Vanguard recommends keeping an emergency fund to cover three to six months worth of essential expenses. Depending on your personal situation, you may need more or less. Someone with a working spouse and a modest living situation may not need more than a month of backup, while a single person living in an expensive apartment should keep several months of funding in reserve.

Failing to separate your accounts

You’ve probably heard stories about successful founders who poured their life savings into their companies and came out on top. Many entrepreneurs fund their companies from their own accounts, and that’s a perfectly healthy way to start a company. However, if you start depositing funds from your customers’s orders in the same account you use to pay your electricity bill, you invite massive financial (and legal) headaches into your life.

Even if you’re a solopreneur doing freelance work, make the effort to open and maintain a separate account for your business. Instead of taking funds directly from your company coffers, recommends paying yourself a salary. When you cap your income, you can get a better understanding of where your business stands and build up savings to grow and invest.

Allowing accounts to go to collections

Don’t like to look at your bank accounts until absolutely necessary? Throw away bills without opening them? You’re not alone. Avoiding the reality of bills and budgeting can reduce stress in the short term, but the longer you avoid looking, the worse the situation becomes. Bury your head in the sand long enough, and a bill that you could have easily managed could move to a collection agency.

Not only does a bill in collection severely harm your credit score, but it can also lead to massive stress as debt collectors begin hounding you for payment. Schedule a time on your calendar once a week to go through your mail and check on your online accounts. That 30 minutes of financial upkeep per week could save you and your business thousands in the long run.

Better personal finance means better business finance, and better business finance means a smoother ride to the top. You deserve to focus on your company’s growth, so don’t complicate the matter with missed bills and poor credit. Take some time to get your affairs in order, then devote your energies to your company, confident in the knowledge that you’re on the right track.

Rashan Dixon

By

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

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