Wellness Summit Preview: Your Employees’ Financial Stress is Your Financial Stress

19151085Hopefully you know by now that your employees’ financial problems are your financial problems. The financial stress that comes with financial ills can wreak havoc on productivity and worksite decision-making. As an employer, not only should you know this, but you should have a financial wellness plan in place to help your employees get back on their feet and get their head back in the game. But what if your corporate policies are the cause of financial stress?

Employers don’t realize that some seemingly benign corporate decisions can turn their employees’ financial lives upside down. At this year’s 2014 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit, I’m going to teach you exactly what corporate decisions to avoid and how to identify whether or not your current financial policies are a problem. Employees are fully responsible for their own financial success, but you can support them in their journey by having a great financial wellness strategy. Don’t miss my session on October 7 as we have a very frank and poignant conversation about your employees’ financial lives.

Peter Dunn, a.k.a. “Pete the Planner,” is an award-winning comedian and an award-winning financial mind. He released his first book, What Your Dad Never Taught You About Budgeting, in 2006 and is the host of the popular radio show “The Pete the Planner show” on 93 WIBC FM. Pete is also the resident Fox59 News personal finance expert and has appeared regularly on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN Headline News and numerous nationally syndicated radio programs.

Elfcu Makes Financial Wellness a Priority for Customers

Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union, now known as Elfcu, has served Lilly's employees and their families for over 80 years. In 2008, the credit union began to add membership from Select Employer Groups as it became more independent from Lilly itself. Now, employees from selected companies are eligible for Elfcu membership as a no cost voluntary benefit.

Aside from its array of services, Elfcu has separated itself as a leader in financial wellness.

"We are a financial wellness provider that happens to be a credit union," explains communications and education manager Michelle Payne. "We strive to understand not just what our customers want but to understand what their goals are so we can help them make the right financial choices. We're not just about our products and transactions here, but about our members' overall financial success."

As an example, Elfcu recently launched a partnership with financial guru "Pete The Planner" (Peter Dunn) with its "Fastest Way to $5K" 12-week educational program. Dunn recommends ways consumers can acquire the most savings, and Elfcu offers the tools and programs to help them achieve those goals.

 When asked how economic conditions have impacted Elfcu's operations, business development manager Todd Shickel contends credit unions were dealt a softer blow than some.

"The credit unions have always been a safe haven for a member's banking services, so we didn't feel the impact of the financial tsunami like many financial institutions did," he relays. "Some financial institutions were impacted, but we have very responsible lending programs designed to be a better fit for the consumer — not what will generate the most revenue for the credit union."

He adds that the biggest change he's seen recently is in the realm of health savings — a change that emphasizes why financial wellness is so important.

"Employers have started to go to the high deductible, consumer-driven health plans," Shickel says. "They have a tool that goes with them called a health savings account — and we have a very robust health savings account platform that helps differentiate us in the marketplace. It gives the members a portal and tools to become better health care consumers… In the newer high deductible plans, it's up to the consumer to find the best services, and they have a stake in those services."

Elfcu, which boasts a global membership base, also works to parlay technology to give its clients the best possible service.

"Our access options really do exceed a lot of our larger banking competitors," Payne notes. "We launched mobile banking (elfcuMOBILE) last summer, which features a smartphone app and text banking for those without a smartphone. One fantastic feature is the remote deposit capture, so you can snap a photo of your check and upload it for a deposit. We also have a dynamic eBranch Internet banking system that we're continually updating."

She adds that beyond those electronic options, Elfcu offers more than 5,000 shared branches nationwide and a surcharge-free network of over 60,000 ATMs.

See Elfcu's entire video series on its YouTube page, and be sure to explore its newly designed web site at elfcu.org, including its new Life Lessons financial wellness blog.

Overspending is “Jingle Bell Wrong”: Don’t Buy Your Way Into a New Year’s Mess

It’s amazing how it happens every year: All of a sudden, it’s the middle of December and Christmas is just a couple of short weeks away.

Because even though Christmas is always on December 25 (each and every year, guys), it seems that there is always financial stress at crunch time when you realize you are going to buy gifts for your family, the in-laws, your friends, your spouse and your children. (Notice I said “going to” and not “have to.”)

Have we not realized this was coming ALL YEAR LONG?

Why, then, do we continue to spend ourselves into a hole that we have to dig our way back out of at the beginning of the New Year? Do the happy holiday blinders go on and we just say, “Charge it!”?

Try just saying, “No.” Because, like my Papaw Kermit always said: “’No’ is a complete sentence.”

You don’t have to buy love with Christmas presents. But, if you enjoy giving and it makes your heart happy, go for it. Just start planning earlier than December 12. 

I’ve listened to a few financial planning “gurus” over the years. Just recently we had a visit from local financial smarty, "Pete the Planner" (as part of the Chamber’s internal wellness programming, our staff will be able to participate in a financial wellness program with Peter Dunn throughout 2013).

They’ve all pretty much said something similar: Start saving up your cash earlier in the year to pay for Christmas. Don’t touch the money unless you are using it for your Christmas shopping purposes (whether that’s in May or on Black Friday). And DON’T spend money you don’t have.

It’s time for Americans to start taking back control of the economy, which will start with each family getting in control of their finances. And no one can do it for you (not even the government). It’s not easy – sticking to a budget takes work, but financial strain and daily turmoil causes more work and stress than living within your means.

As it is only a few weeks away from Christmas and it’s a little late to start stockpiling your money for Christmas 2012, my advice is this if you are fretting and can’t afford gifts. There’s no shame in telling your friends and family that you are working to right your financial ship and that spending time together – or offering to clean their home or cook dinner for them or just listening when they need a shoulder – is a better gift than anything bought in a store. If they are truly your friends and family, they will be understanding and help you on your path to financial peace. 

And next year, you can start saving money early … unless you decide that offering your time and services is a much better gift anyway.