It makes sense that the same skills are required to make changes in our health and to make changes in our wealth – especially in the day to day cash management. This was really brought to light when I sat down with 7 people for ‘Ask a Planner’ meetings because the meetings were in the wellness center at the company I was visiting – not just a wellness center but basically in an office right off the employee gym. The receptionist was shared and the meeting room I got to use was literally 5 steps from the gym. It was definitely a healthy atmosphere.
As I met with the employees one by one, I found out that 6 of the 7 employees were working with a personal trainer in the wellness center and coincidentally they all were working on cash management/ budgeting issues. This made it a really smooth transition to talk about making small behavior changes that work. One employee I talked with wanted to pay off his credit card debt within two years. His main issue was that he was living month to month and not getting ahead but he wasn’t behind on bills and was making his minimum payments so he was in a perfect place to make changes to get control of his spending and get out of debt.
We talked about a three step plan using some budgeting tools and changing some behaviors – tracking expenses – keeping an envelope in his truck to put receipts in (since he doesn’t keep a check register) and once a week adding up what he spent and tracking it so he knows where he is. We also talked about getting a jump start on getting out of debt. He needed to start an emergency fund and wanted to fund it for at least $1000 before he paid off any debts to stop the cycle of using credit cards for emergencies. The thought of having to wait to pay down the principal on his credit cards was driving him crazy so I asked him, “What can you sell?” Bingo. He is a cyclist and has an ‘extra’ bike that he doesn’t ride much and he felt he could sell it for $1000. Those three things – track using a system that worked for him, working with his money once a week at the same time, and jump starting his emergency fund, made all the difference in the world. He had a plan.
Just like his workout program, he was making some changes – the right ones for him and not too many at once. Ideal world – everyone works with a personal trainer for three months at the employee wellness center and then comes in for a financial wellness meeting with the Certified Financial Planner™. Talk about a makeover! Whenever I have worked with a trainer or started a new sport, people notice the difference and say something. With a financial makeover, the changes are not so apparent on the outside but we feel them on the inside of course and we’ll feel them later when we meet our goals. Actually combining the programs would be really interesting but working with a physical trainer first would be an interesting jump start for people. For those people who are willing, take before and after pictures for the physical side and put together some kind of wellness assessment – like their wellness scores for the financial side.
Imagine the possibilities.