Happy #WellfieWednesday friends!
This week’s tip comes from @Eric_in_AmERICa is all about maintaining your financial wellness. As our #Wellfie team and most of our readership is primarily physical therapists or student physical therapists, I thought this topic would be near and dear to most of our hearts; especially as the cost of graduate education continues to rise in a disproportional manner to our reimbursement rates and overall payment.
I am by no means an expert in this area. I am not an accountant or a financial advisor, in fact I dropped the only accounting class I ever took in my undergraduate studies after two weeks when the concept of a balance sheet felt like I was learning Japanese. Later in this article I list some resources who are professionals who I would highly recommend reaching out to in order to translate this information into comprehensible terms.
As I mentioned above, I am by no means an expert in financial wellness. I am, however, a 28 year old millennial with $200k+ in student loans, married to a wonderful wife who also has around $100k in student loans, a baby on the way, in the process of purchasing a home, trying to save for retirement, all while hoping to avoid the Ramen Noodle diet and maybe hold down a Spotify Premium account. According to the research, I would bet that you’re probably in a similar situation.
The US Federal Reserve reports that Americans owe a total of 1.45 TRILLION in student loans, divided among 44.2 million people for an average of about $33,000 per person. (Sidenote- these numbers are only for FEDERAL student loans and do not include private student loan statistics.) Pretty overwhelming, right? Good news, it doesn’t have to be. Below I’ve listed a few steps to follow in order to take ownership of your financial wellness.
Step 1: Budget. Figure out how much money you have coming in vs how much money you have going out. There are several apps like Mint or EveryDollar that can help you with this, but I prefer an old school pen and paper list of every bill and it’s due date to have a better picture of my financial responsibilities. Set individualized, SMART goals to start chipping away at debt and keep yourself on track.
Step 2: Control Spending. The easiest way to save more money is to not spend it. Sounds easy in concept, can be incredibly difficult in reality. One of my favorite resources for advice in this area is Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com). He gives tons of practical tips for cutting spending and practicing financial discipline in order to get out of debt as fast as you can.
*Step 2a: Increase Income. This is basically the opposite of controlling spending. Rather than letting less money go out, have more money coming in. This can be accomplished through a variety of ways, depending on your creativity, work ethic, and amount of free time you’re willing to sacrifice. Your loan servicers don’t care if your money comes from your 9-5 seeing patients in the clinic or your side hustle driving for Uber. Money is money, as long as it’s paid on time.
Step 3: Work the system. Look into refinancing loans for a lower interest rate, check out student loan forgiveness programs, and find trusted resources to help you along your path to becoming debt-free. One company that has been a huge help to me in both understanding my loans and formulating a plan to tackle them has been FitBUX (https://www.fitbux.com/). FitBUX is a free service that “...creates a holistic picture of an individual's finances by capturing your past, present, and most importantly, your future. When you build an online profile with FitBUX, your human capital asset and financial situation is captured in one easy to understand score, the FitBUX Score. The FitBUX Score, combined with interactive charts and graphs, provide an easy way to compare your options. You can personalize a finance strategy by seeing how your financial choices impact your FitBUX Score.” (via FitBUX website). They are able to keep this as a free service by offering products and services that optimize your financial strategy, getting paid by the financial institutions when FitBUX members utilize their services. Worth checking out, even if you’re skeptical (like I was, and always am when it comes to financial advice). Just FYI on my part, this is a 100% unsolicited endorsement. I truly appreciate all of the help Joe and the rest of the team at FitBUX have given me and hope others will find as much value out of speaking with them as I have. Which brings me to...
Step 4: Be Smart. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, especially when it comes to getting out of debt. Many financial institutions will offer a free meeting to discuss your debt, however they are businesses and businesses need to make money. Make sure you do your research and ask questions to fully understand how they are getting paid for offering your this advice. Monitoring your credit is also an important part of understanding your financial wellness and how you appear on paper to companies. It can also be useful to make sure that there are not any suspicious changes made that you are not aware of. Apps like Credit Karma can be helpful in keeping an eye on your credit score and feel more secure about your financial wellness.
This is timely news with the announcement that one of the major credit agencies, Equifax, suffered a massive security breach, compromising over 143 million Americans’ personal information like social security numbers, addresses, employers, etc. (Check this site to see if your information was included in the breach https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/).
Again, I’m no expert, but these are all tips that have worked for me. Setting a budget and sticking to it, controlling spending, asking for help, and doing your due diligence to keep your financial wellness in mind.
So put some of this information to use and let us know what you think! Thanks again for all of the #WellfieWednesday support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members in your post (@PBernerSPT, @Eric_in_AmERICa, @AaronPerezPT, @DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!
- WW Crew
Will Butler- @simplywillb on twitter
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