Did you know that financial literacy directly correlates to your personal and professional success?
The bad news is that poor financial literacy in corporate America is negatively impacting most employees’ professional achievement.
For example, many people start their first jobs without an understanding of a credit score, managing a budget, or contributing to a 401(k). Without proper education, one wrong financial move (even while earning money) can cause intense financial stress that spills over into the workplace.
As many know from personal experience, dealing with stress on the job directly impacts a person’s happiness at work and can be synonymous with low productivity, fatigue, and even a decrease in career opportunities. For employers, the ramifications can be worse. By the numbers, stress is estimated to cost U.S. businesses $300 billion annually — or about $2,000 per employee per year.
The aftermath of poor money management and its effect on a person’s career satisfaction cannot be ignored. To take control of your financial life — and make your career more fulfilling — take the advice I learned after speaking to Michael Thiemann, co-founder and CEO of Zebit, a financial wellness benefit company that offers both financial resources and a credit safety-net to hardworking Americans.
Thiemann explained that financial wellness goes beyond using a few financial tools or saving for retirement; it is a sense of financial stability that comes with financial literacy, planning and money management so responding to life events is only a bump in the road, rather than a financial disaster.
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Here are a few tips Michael’s three key tips:
1. Manage money for your future self
First, create a budget and stick to it, making sure you have calculated how much you need to set aside for lifestyle expenses — e.g. entertainment, vacations, etc. — as well as emergency savings and retirement. If you are currently in debt, make sure you aggressively budget to pay it off.
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Thiemann says, “By having a holistic understanding of your financial situation, you can stay in control of your finances and focus on the important things in life, like thriving at the workplace.”
To get started, Michael suggested checking out free assessments and budgeting tools like Zebit’s free, fast, and easy Instant Budget app.
2. Expect surprises
From getting a flat tire to the refrigerator breaking down, no one is immune to surprise expenses.
Thiemann pointed out that these surprises can come with high price tags. What do you do if you are strapped for cash? Thiemann advises against using risky financing alternatives like payday loans, high-interest credit cards, or rent-to-own services where one wrong move creates a spiral of debt and stress.
“By weighing your options, reviewing contracts, and understanding the total cost of a purchase with interest, fees, or penalties, you can be prepared to responsibly respond,” says Thiemann. “I would also suggest looking for no-cost credit safety-net options that can be used to finance large or unexpected purchases at retail prices.”
3. Benefit from employer financial wellness programs
Employers who invest in educating employees in personal finance will see a 3-to-1 return on investment, improve their bottom line, and enjoy a more productive workforce. Thiemann suggests talking to your HR department to determine which financial wellness programs are available at your company.
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You may be surprised to learn that there is a wealth of resources provided that offer advice on investments, loans, mortgages, social security, and more. Many times they are free or included in your current benefits. If your employer is lacking a solution, suggest a free and complete financial wellness benefit that covers education, interactive training, budgeting resources, and access to interest-free credit offerings.
To help working Americans better manage money and minimize their financial stress, Thiemann and Zebit recently partnered with Shark Tank mogul Barbara Corcoran. By joining forces, the two entities advised on steps for reducing stress brought on by financial woes.
“As one of 10 kids who grew up in a blue-collar family without material advantages, I not only understand firsthand the worry associated with cash constraints, but the importance of feeling empowered to overcome setbacks,” said Corcoran. “We can’t sit around and let financial stress cripple opportunity, but rather educate employers on their critical role in helping consumers become financially fit.”
There will never be a magic wand for getting personal finances in order. It takes education, commitment, and a plan. By following the above principles — and a few tips from Barbara Corcoran herself — professionals can better chip away at handling cash flow while setting themselves up for a happier career path.
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