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Winning Habits for Financial Fitness

Winning Habits for Financial Fitness

Just as physical vitality requires a nutritious diet and regular exercise, achieving financial fitness also demands deliberate action and conscious choices. And while external factors like the economy and market volatility are beyond your control, a number of healthy habits and smart strategies can empower you to keep your personal finances in peak condition. Consider these steps to build up your monetary muscle and assert greater agency over your financial future. 

Make a Game Plan 

Financial fitness doesn’t require you to set foot on a treadmill. Actually, it all begins with a pen and paper (or keyboard and screen). Studies show that the act of writing down your aspirations can actually increase your chances of success by a staggering 42%. So craft a plan that’s realistic but also aligns with what you ultimately want to derive from your financial life — and refer your playbook to guide your decision making. 

Recruit Great Coaches  

Teams rely on top coaches to have a winning season. And you don’t have to get financially fit alone. Just as you might hire a personal trainer to help you build muscle or a nutritionist to overhaul your diet, there are a variety of financial pros who can help you improve different areas of your fiscal health. These might include a financial advisor, an accountant or CPA, a lawyer, an insurance agent and even your personal banker. 

Play the Long Game 

In the end, financial fitness is about identifying — and achieving — your long-term goals, so it’s important to pay yourself first. Treat emergency savings and retirement funds as top priorities in your monthly budget. Automate retirement savings by electing to put a certain amount of each paycheck in your employer-sponsored 401(k). 

Don’t Go Out of Bounds on Budget 

Financially fit individuals live within their means whenever possible. Whether you earn a more modest income or command a substantial salary, prioritize expenses and avoid unnecessary spending to secure your financial wellness. Surprisingly, 40% of people earning more than $100,000 a year in the U.S. find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. Keeping a close eye on expenditures is a key habit across all income brackets.  

Play Defense by Diversifying 

The old adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” holds true for your nest egg too. Diversifying your investments across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds and cash equivalents and also within each class can help mitigate risks from a number of economic conditions. A well-diversified financial portfolio is often recommended to play defense against economic and market uncertainty.  

Huddle up Regularly  

When working toward financial fitness, it’s important to review your investments, budget, credit report, taxes, debts and insurance at least annually or whenever your situation changes significantly. This might include a job change, marriage, medical crisis or even a bonus or raise. That way, you can make any needed adjustments to your financial game plan. 

Get Your Game Face On 

While it’s never too late to start making improvements in your personal finances, the sooner you begin the better — because the game clock is already running. A good starting point is to make an appointment with a qualified financial professional and set your sights on the finish line. 

Mind Hacks to Help You Save

Mind Hacks to Help You Save

Even with the best of intentions, many of us find ourselves swiping our debit card or clicking “buy now,” then wishing we had that money back later. When you’re trying to increase your savings, some of the biggest obstacles to progress can be found within yourself. Fortunately, a few simple mind hacks can turn the tables on unhelpful financial habits.

Make It Harder to Spend

Every day, we encounter many opportunities — and lots of encouragement — to spend money. Advertisements urge us to purchase, online shopping makes it instant and delivery services make it convenient. One of the keys to saving, for many, is removing temptation, which means knowing your triggers. If you thirst for thrift, stay out of your usual bargain-hunting grounds and avoid the discount aisle at all costs. Also steer clear websites with deal countdowns and other pressures to “buy now.” Shop with a list, and stick to it.

You also may need to explore your feelings around spending. Studies show that we often spend more when we’re stressed. So if you engage in too much retail therapy, set yourself up for success by choosing a relaxing, free activity like reading a book, meditating or taking a walk instead. Shopping with cash rather than credit can also help put the brakes on instant gratification — plus, you’re forced to stop when your wallet is empty. And even waiting 24 hours after first spotting something temping can help you figure out if you really want or need it — or if it was merely the urge to splurge.

Make It Easier to Save

Simplifying your savings routine and minimizing obstacles can also be helpful. A lot of the time, the way we save money is through an active process — we go over our accounts and set aside a certain amount each cycle. Try making saving automatic instead. Start by setting up auto-deposits into your savings account and have contributions automatically deducted from your paycheck and deposited into your employer-sponsored retirement account.

Make Saving More Rewarding Than Spending

If you’re the competitive type, sometimes a little challenge can be just what you need to get into a money-saving mindset. Setting savings goals and visualizing them with a vision board, spreadsheet or chart can help keep you motivated. Or turn savings into a game. One study by the financial assistance nonprofit Commonwealth showed that people who used a gamified savings app that lets them complete challenges and earn badges saved 25% more than others.

Hack Your Habits

Saving money is a gradual and lifelong process — and it takes commitment and consistency. No matter what strategies and hacks you choose to help you save, the best thing you can do to increase your savings is whatever you’ll stick to. Find the methods that work for you, and over time you’ll be able to hack your mindset, build good financial habits and reboot your savings.



How to fight Shrinkflation

How to fight Shrinkflation

Consumers across the nation are looking in their pantry and wondering,Where did all the Munchy-Os go?! Why is there a divot in the bottom of the peanut butter jar? And wait, there definitely used to be more chips in this bag!Welcome to “shrinkflation” a practice where companies make smaller products, downsize the packaging or put smaller amounts in the box so consumers spend the same for less. These are subtle changes that most people wont even notice but will have you questioning your sanity while you wonder where all the cookies went. 

You can’t stop shrinkflation, but you can outsmart it! Here are five strategies savvy shoppers can use to shrink the effect shrinkflation has on their wallets.  

Pick Your Prices Like Peter Piper 

Remember the nursery rhyme about Peter Piper picking a peck of pickled peppers? Looking at the price per pepper rather than per package helps reveal the real cost of your purchase. Next to the item price on the grocery shelf, youll see a unit price in smaller print. Unit pricing tells you how much youll pay per pound, ounce, piece or whatever unit of measure applies. And it lets you compare costs across different brands or product sizes. If Peter Pipers Pickled Peppers are $1 per pound and Mary Mary Quite Contrarys Sour Pickles are $2 per pound, you get a better deal per pound buying from Peter, even if the price of Marys pickles is less for a smaller jar. 

Go Big Before You Go Home 

If you compare unit prices and product size, there is often a premium on smaller sizes you spend more per ounce on the smaller bottle of ketchup than the larger one, even if its the same brand. If you go through ketchup like youre running a summer camp, then double down and stock up on those supersized products. But also be mindful about waste bulk shopping can end up costing you more in the end if you stock up on perishable items that go bad before you use them.  

Dial in on Deals 

Whether you like to peruse the paper old-school with scissors in hand or use the latest shopping apps or digital coupons, deal hunting can get you better prices on products you use all the time. And dont forget to seek out BOGO deals to double your purchasing power (just calculate your unit price to make sure its as good a deal as it seems). 

Rethink Your Retail Relationships  

It might be time to give up on manufacturers that have done you wrong. Maybe you buy the same brand of freezer pops your mother did, but if the amount in the box is shrinking it may be time to cut loose your brand loyalty and switch to one that gets you more pops per pack. And while you’re at it, if youve traversed the aisles of the same supermarket for years, now may be the time to try out a discount grocery store, a big-box retailer or even your local farmers market to see if you can find better prices on products you buy.  

Shrinkflation Support 

If youre struggling with the stress of shrinkflation, consider talking to a financial professional about your situation. They can provide budgeting help and smart saving strategies to help take the sting out of shrinkflation.  


Budgeting for an Engagement Ring

Budgeting for an Engagement Ring

You’ve found a quiet, secluded beach to pop the question, and picked out the perfect bottle of champagne for a celebratory toast. Most importantly, you’ve found that special someone who’s captured your heart — the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Now all that’s left is to find the right ring, a token of your eternal love, to seal the deal. 

While you want something beautiful that encapsulates your special love story, you also want to stay true to your financial aspirations as a couple as you begin the next chapter of your lives together. Here are tips to help you find the right ring for you and your partner, and for your budget, as you seek a symbol of your connection while honoring your commitment to a secure financial future together.  

Design Decisions Can Drive Cost 

The average cost of a diamond engagement ring is between $3,500 and $5,000. Opting for a different size or diamond cut can alter the price substantially, but so can the setting and the material for the ring itself. Using a vintage ring or a family heirloom, which can often be re-set into a new band, can be a great sentimental and cost-saving option.  

Think Outside the Rock 

Though many people think diamonds are synonymous with engagement rings, a mined diamond isn’t the only option available. Lab-created diamonds typically cost 50% to 70% less than mined diamonds. Other stones, such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds, can reduce your cost while giving a unique look that may even stand out more than a traditional diamond. And if you like the look of diamonds but not the cost, moissanite is a beautiful, clear, sparkling stone that mimics the look of diamonds at a fraction of the price typically around 1/10th the cost of a similar size diamond. 

Budget for the Ring You Want 

 Whether you plan to be frugal or more extravagant with your ring purchase, it’s important to budget in a way that supports your goals. Once you have the right ring picked out, spending-tracker apps and automatic savings deductions can help you set money aside. A ring that’s out of your immediate price range might be eligible for a payment plan, but be sure to check the financing terms carefully look over the interest rate, how often it’s compounded and any late payment penalties or other fees. Think realistically about your price range it’s best not to put a ring on a high-interest credit card, which will increase your cost even further. 

Your Journey Begins Here 

When you’re budgeting for a ring, put this significant purchase into perspective. Remember that you’ll need to balance the expense with the other costs you’ll incur as you begin your lives together, like buying a house or starting a family. And unless you plan on a low-key ceremony, small reception or a frugal honeymoon, when you budget for a ring, you’ll have to make sure it doesn’t cut into your wedding budget too much. Consider consulting a financial professional to help you plan for this expense, and remember that regardless of which engagement ring you choose or what it costs, what matters most is the one who’ll be wearing it.  


Financial Fact or Fiction

Financial Fact or Fiction

While most people realize breaking a mirror won’t bring seven years of bad luck, many money myths are still widely believed. Can you tell whether the following are fact or fiction?  

Let’s put your financial know-how to the test. 

1. A mortgage is good debt, no matter how big it is. 

FICTION: “Good debt” is manageable and can help you achieve important life goals. While home ownership can be a great goal, not all mortgages are “good debt.” If your house payments are breaking the bank, or if your adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is about to reset to a payment you can no longer afford, even the mortgage on your dream home may not qualify as good debt.  

2. Financial planning is only for the wealthy. 

FICTION: You may think there’s no point in working with a financial professional if you don’t have a fortune in the bank, but most people can benefit from a little expert help. Even those with modest assets may have a lot to gain from advice about taxes, investments, budgeting, debt and credit. And this valuable service may also be easier to obtain than you think. Workers with an employer-sponsored retirement plan may already have access to a financial professional through their benefits package — check with your human resources department to learn more. 

3. If I’m still young, there’s no rush to save for retirement. 

FICTION: It’s actually never too early to start saving for retirement, but waiting too long could put some serious cracks in your future nest egg. If someone invests $30,000 into a retirement fund at 25, even with no further contributions, they could have nearly $450,000 by age 65, assuming an average annual rate of return of 7%. But if they were to wait until 45 to start saving, that amount drops to around $116,000.  

4. There’s no sure thing when it comes to investing. 

FICTION: There actually is a sure thingand that’s your employer 401(k) match. This is an additional deposit from your employer into your 401(k) equal to a percentage of your contribution up to a certain limit. Your matching funds may not “vest” right away, which means they might not fully belong to you when they’re deposited. But while you may have to wait for your matching funds to vest, your employer match is like free money — and one of the few sure things in the world of investing 

5. It’s better to pay down all your debt than invest your money. 

IT DEPENDS: Whether it’s best to pay down debt or invest first depends on your individual situation. It’s often advantageous to pay off higher interest debts like credit cards quickly especially with the average credit card rate topping more than 19% in the final months of 2022. But for a low-interest mortgage or other manageable debt, it might make sense for investing to take priority — or do a little of both at the same time. This is an area where getting advice from a qualified financial professional can really help. 

Everyone can improve their financial wellness 

WellCents can help boost your financial wellness. The first step is to take a short online financial assessment. Your individual results are completely confidential and can help you better understand your financial strengths and weaknesses. You’ll gain valuable insights into your retirement readiness, debt, credit, investments and more. And you’ll have access to e-learning and articles tailored to your needs, plus advice from a financial professional. No matter your current situation, it’s never too late to start improving your personal finances — and that’s a FACT! 



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