What Matters Most – Top 10 Financial New Year’s Resolutions with Jen Jones

In today's episode, we talk with Jen Jones, Senior Wealth Advisor in the Wealth Management area of First United. Jen discusses her top 10 list for Financial New Year Resolutions. Items that you can do to help better your financial situation in the coming year!


Announcer: Welcome to the “What Matters Most” podcast, presented by First United Bank & Trust. That’s my bank. Visit us today at mybank.com.

Eric: Hello, and welcome to “What Matters Most,” the podcast all about finances, community, savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at my bank, First United Bank & Trust. I’m your host, Eric Nutter, and in today’s episode of “What Matters Most” is New Year’s resolutions. And for this helpful discussion, I’m thankful to be joined remotely today by Jen Jones, senior wealth advisor in wealth management at First United. Good morning, Jen, how are you today?

Jen: Hey, Eric, good morning. How are you?

Eric: I’m doing well. Happy New Year’s Eve.

Jen: Happy New Year’s Eve.

Eric: Yeah, we’re finally almost done with 2020. That’s exciting.

Jen: Totally. Yeah, I’m totally excited and so glad that this is the last day of the year, or this year especially.

Eric: No doubt, no doubt. It’s been a challenging one. I’m sure that you’ve seen your fair share of challenges in the wealth department to kind of help people through this tough time.

Jen: Absolutely. Yeah, we have. Yep.

Eric: But now the exciting part today is we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about, you know, you head into a new year and a lot of times, people begin to think about, you know, ways to improve themselves. A lot of times, it’s health-related, so, you know, “New Year’s resolution, I’m going to start working out every day,” or, “I’m going to eat better,” or, “I’m going to do whatever.” What we wanted to talk a little bit about with you is your financial health.

Jen: Right.

Eric: And so, we’ve talked about a top 10 list of things that you could do to help your financial well-being heading into a new year. And I have your list in front of me, so I thought maybe we’ll walk down through it together. You could talk a little bit about each item and then we’ll kind of go from there, does it sounds good?

Jen: Yeah, absolutely. Sounds great.

Eric: Excellent. All right, well, hit us with number 10. what’s number 10 on the list?

Jen: So, number 10 is to just check your spending habits because especially this past year, right? Kind of all the things that aren’t working in your life or, you know, what can you do without, which I think maybe this year especially, we all have been shifted into realizing that there’s things that we can do without that we didn’t realize we could do without them. Or maybe not, maybe the other way around that you need to have, you know, whatever in your life. And so, it’s just a good time to do that.

Obviously, to do it in all aspects of your life but doing it financially too, you know, is there any extra spending that you’ve done that, you know, maybe you just need to cut out those bad habits? You know, Amazon always gets me all the time, so I got to be careful on that. Hitting that button is really easy, right, for it to just come to your door and whatnot. Or even just, you know, maybe you’re spending money on things…a lot of times, people are spending money on things twice.

They’ve got protection on their phone is a great example where, you know, here at the bank, we offer protection for our cell phones through some of our packages in our checking account fields that we offer and that’s enough and that’s all you need, versus having to get, you know, additional coverage or whatnot for protection. So, you’re paying for that once, you don’t need to pay for things like that twice. So, just kind of doing just a sweep of, you know, “What am I paying for?” and, “Does this make sense?” and just checking those spending habits.

Eric: Yeah, no, that’s great advice. Yeah, a lot of people…I find it interesting that a lot of people don’t have a budget, like, they don’t live by a budget. And we have one in my household and we live by it and we try to stick to it as best as we can and you don’t always, you know, sometimes you go over on certain categories. But what I find most helpful is just simply having it lets you have a conversation, you know, a couple of times a year where you can go down through and look at each item and decide some of the things that you’re talking about. Like, “Well, what’s this thing? Why are we spending on this,” you know, whatever it might be, this streaming service, “We have seven streaming services, do we really need, you know, all of them?”

Jen: Not many, yeah.

Eric: And, you know, are we really watching everything on, you know, whatever the latest streaming services? So, yeah, reviewing those things is definitely something that comes into play and helps save a lot of money over the course of time. So, it’s great advice.

Jen: Yeah, and they go hand in hand, that check spending habits go hand in hand with just like you said, which is number nine, which is set up a budget for 2021 and…

Eric: Oh, look at that.

Jen: Ta-da, and really do that. Obviously, you’re checking the spending habits against, you know, your budget and what you have and if you say you don’t have a budget, I really encourage you to have one. And some people, it’s hard and I understand that but you really need to kind of make sure that if you’re trying to get to a goal and trying to accomplish things long term or even short term, you want to have a certain amount of money somewhere in an account or something, you have to kind of be able to get there and doing that is setting up a budget for yourself.

I find that one thing that we do is…this year, especially, again with everything that’s gone on for 2020, is me and I spend a lot less at the grocery store when I do pick up versus when I actually go into the store because you’re not picking up everything that you think that you need and you don’t. And I also like to pick up because I just tit-tit-tit on my phone when we need something and it’s on the…I don’t even need to make a little pencil and paper grocery list anymore, it’s done.

Eric: That’s a great point.

Jen: Yeah, so setting things up like that of, “Okay,” and kind of getting…especially if you do things like that on your phone or whatnot for groceries or whatever, you can kind of see what your average is on how much you’re spending weekly or however often you’re getting groceries and things like that. So, you can set yourself up on a budget of, “Okay, the monthly average is this,” you know, “and maybe we’ll need a little more for this or maybe we won’t need as much.”

And, you know, you don’t have to be a stickler that if you go over a penny, you know, you’re gonna just be mad at yourself for the rest of your life. But you want to make sure that you’re staying within this budgeted amount and have budgeted amount so that you can reach your goals and, you know, “I want to go to Paris in two years.” Well, you know, how do you set that up to do that? That’s gonna cost money and those kind of things. And so, to save that extra money aside, you know, coming up with a budget is a great way to do that.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. Do you have a way…so, first of all, let’s confirm, you have a budget that you use in your household?

Jen: Yeah.

Eric: Okay. Do you have a certain way that you do it or do you do it just line by line? Because I really nerd it out about our budget when I started building it and I was doing tons of research trying to find the best way to do it and I landed on a certain place, but I’m curious how you do yours.

Jen: I do it in an Excel spreadsheet because I am a little nerdy about it and I am really like…well, I really like it. So, I spend a lot of time, you know, with formulas and things like that, probably more than I should. But it doesn’t even need to be that fancy but I do go line by line and I even have it so that I can, “Well, if we spend this year and this year,” you know, you can change them around to see what the outcome would be if we did something different, isn’t that crazy? But I do all that, but that’s how I do it. Now, of course, there’s a lot of easier ways that you can do it or, obviously, there’s things online that you can do, but, yeah, it just depends on your personality and what did you use, what are you doing.

Eric: Well, so I have, like, three main buckets that I kind of split everything into and I try to follow some percentages. So, there are “Needs” and that’s all your, you know, housing, utilities, food, transportation, that sort of thing. So, that’s 50% of the budget and I try to get it to that, it’s not perfect but we try to strive to 50%. And then we have “Wants” and that’s like 30% of just shopping and, you know, whatever, it’s some money for some of the wants that we have, that if we had to cut something, that’s where you would start cutting.

And then we have “Savings and Debt Repayment” as a separate line, so we’re trying to put money aside for, you know, emergency needs or whatever, college savings, that sort of thing, but having attempted 20% at that. You know, and they’re all just general guidelines, but then within each one of those categories, they kind of go into each line item. You know, specifically, gas, you know, our electric bill or internet or whatever, those are specific amounts within that larger grouping.

Jen: Yeah, and that’s what you want to do, you want to just kind of start with the basics and like you said, you have three things. A lot of times, if you go online and see things, they’ll talk about the three pillars, which are that kind of exact thing is your wants, your needs, and your emergency plans. And then you can kind of start getting fancy with it, you can start incorporating your values or charitable donations or things that you want to do or principles that just makes sense to you. But it doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to be accurate and be realistic.

Eric: Well, it needs to work for you and everyone in your household that it affects. That’s the other thing because when I started down the path, I was building it for me and it didn’t work perfectly for my wife, so we had to try to find that common ground to build the right thing that, like, work in our lives perfectly. And I think we’ve gotten pretty close, we’re on the doorstep of a good Excel document.

Jen: Yep.

Eric: All right. So, what number are we on? We kind of got off track there.

Jen: Yeah, that’s okay. So, budget was number nine, so number eight, again, this kind of goes…they all kind of go hand in hand here a little bit, is to actually set an annual financial goal and set some milestones in there for yourself. So, we just said about setting up your budget, you know, that kind of thing, and then, you know, what do you really want to accomplish financially in the year? You know, what do you really want to do? You know, do you want to take a trip? Are you working towards, you know, something else, maybe even down the road? Those kind of things. And the setup of the milestones is, “Okay, in, you know, four months, I want to have this much saved, and in eight months, I want to have this much saved.”

And that needs to be incorporated into your budget as well too but, you know, thinking about, “Where do we want to go on vacation this year?” And maybe that’s still a little hard because we’re not quite sure but still, you can have some ideas of, “Well, we’re going to go somewhere and we’re going to do something, whether it be Plan A or Plan B,” and you need to have kind of all those set up as far as, you know, being able to pay for things and that kind of stuff. So, having that kind of annual financial goal and then including in that is, “Okay, how are we going to get there?” Not just, “Here’s the goal at the end of the year, boom.” Well, how are you gonna get there each month?

Eric: Right, how do you get there?

Jen: Right.

Eric: Yeah, so I’m curious, so as you give this advice to clients and people in the community, how do you help them determine what’s the most important of the goals? Because saying, you know, “What are your goals for the year when it comes to money?” I mean, you could set lofty expectations that end up going…you know, that you’re unable to meet. How do you recommend they come up with those?

Jen: Well, I think that’s the thing is you have to look at that budget first, you have to know, you know, what your current income is, and you have to be able to do what you want to do with your goals within the budget that you have. It’s definitely not going to work if, you know, I said, you know, “I really want to have $10 million saved up by the end of the year.” Right? Because I know that…

Eric: Me too.

Jen: Unless I get the winning lottery ticket, right? It’s probably not going to happen. So, how can we make that more realistic? And let’s dial it back to, “Well, what would be a realistic goal based on your income?” And that’s going to be a little bit different for everybody. And so, you do need to kind of work on that, you know, and the priority of what’s going to be most important. Maybe somebody doesn’t want to go somewhere, maybe the most important thing to them is they buy something that they have in their house, whether it be, I don’t know, one of those Peloton bikes that are all the rage.

Eric: They’re so expensive.

Jen: Right, they’re really expensive, so you got to kind of work up for that. So, you know, maybe I really want that by the end of next year, so how can we save for that and save up for it and get it? So, you know, really making sure, “Does that fit in my budget?” Maybe it’s not Peloton, maybe it’s the generic version of that or something else or maybe it’s just a regular exercise bike that I find online at the marketplace that somebody is getting rid of. You know, whatever that be, it has to be within your budget and it has to be, you know, what’s the most important to you? And that’s how you prioritize.

Eric: Nice. All right. All right, so hit us with number seven.

Jen: Number seven, again, kind of still on the same wavelength here of focus on the financials. So, you know, you just want to incorporate everything together because we’ve just talked about you setting an annual goal, setting milestones for that, setting up the budget, making sure you’re checking your spending habits and now, how does that relate to what you want to do long term, right? Because maybe you want to save for something that’s going to take you longer than a year or maybe you want to…you know, you’re thinking about retirement, which is, you know, maybe 20-30 years in the future.

All of those things take into account on what’s happening now and that needs to be all go into the budget as well too, as far as, you know, are you putting anything away for retirement? Do you have a 401k? Or do you have a pension or what do you have, you know, that you’re saving for in the future? And most of the time, it is retirement but, you know, again, if you wanted to go to Paris, maybe that will take you a couple of years to save up for that.

You want to take your kids to Disney, you know, that’s probably something that we’re gonna need to work up to. So, those type of things, you have to kind of do it in little, “We’re focusing in on here, here’s our spending habits, here’s what we’ve done, here’s how we can change that, here’s what we want to do for the year, here’s the goals that we have, here’s the budget that we have, and then here’s how it’s going to affect us long term.”

Eric: Yeah, that makes sense.

Jen: “And it can take us from 10 all the way down to 7 to get into that.”

Eric: Nice.

Jen: And so, then, when you take a look at number six, which is set up an investment account, so then you say, “Oh, well, here’s what we have,” again, it’s kind of going back to taking a look at what we have, “and is this money working for me to meet my expectation?” “So, I’m saving this but I’m not making anything off of it,” or, “I’m really interested in Starbuck and maybe I want to buy some stock into that because I think that would be a really good investment.”

So, you need to have those investment accounts, maybe it’s just your 401k or, “I don’t have a 401k but I want to have a retirement plan,” all of those things, you know…again, you should focus on your financials, kind of looking and seeing where the holes are, and now let’s get some stuff set up for the future as well if you don’t already have it. If you already have this setup, I would definitely say then you need to take a look at your investment plan, making sure that that matches up with what is happening for the year and what’s happening then, you know, long term wise, does what you’re doing in your investment account today makes sense for now and in your future?

Eric: Right, because if you have your goals set…for example, if you had all of your investments set up a certain way and then the pandemic happens, for example, and you go through all of that and you haven’t made any adjustments along the way, you may see numbers different than what you were expecting or what you had been achieving, the levels you had been achieving in years past because you hadn’t been kind of adapting to the current environment.

Jen: Yeah. Or if I go back to my $10 million example and I say, “I want to have $10 million saved up when I get to retirement,” but the investments that I have invested into are, you know, not great at paying return or things that, you know, just aren’t giving me the dividends and the interest to get to that $10 million. Well, they kind of don’t make sense together. So, if you want to get to that goal, you know, how do these investments help you in order to get to where you want to be, and does everything kind of line up together to make sense to get you to where you want to go?

Eric: Gotcha. Okay. All right, so we’ve covered five items, we’re now…

Jen: It’s like five golden rings, yeah.

Eric: Homestretch. Yeah, so these are gonna be the heart of it, right? The top five things? Is your list in order?

Jen: Yeah, I’d say it’s pretty much in order. You know, nobody is gonna, like, zap you if you do anything backwards but you can kind of see how it’s going. Because then the next question that I would suspect that you would have when you’d say, “Oh, gosh, I don’t have any idea if I’m doing the right thing on my investments,” and if they line up with everything else, “Geez, what do I do?” Well, I’d first probably tell you that you need to talk to your tax advisor.

And if you don’t have one, I would recommend that you have one because, oh, my gosh, there’s so many tax rules and there’s so many ever-changing things, especially with this past year, we’ve had so many, you know, waivers and changes and stimulus and things like that as far as monies and as far as things you can do and not get a penalty or whatnot as far as taxes are concerned. You really need to have somebody that knows these rules inside and out and they will be able to help you to say, “Okay, here’s what I have, this is what we have, and this is what we want to do and how can we all put this all together?”

And, you know, that’s part of it too, is paying taxes. And so, nobody wants to pay more taxes than they have to, so how can we go with our plan and put something in place that allows us to be able to do this with the least amount of taxes as possible? And that could be things like capital gains, which are, you know, when you make money with investments. You know, there’s always taxes that need to be paid, so how do you, you know, decrease those taxes? If you’re in a higher tax bracket, maybe, you know, how can you use some deductions that may help you to decrease your income, contributions to, like, a health savings plan or an IRA or something like that? Those are all things that you want to go over with your tax advisor.

Eric: Yeah, so this is an accountant or a CPA or somebody nearby that you can go and you can have a meeting with or, I guess, in this day and age, it might be a Zoom meeting or something, so you can talk things through with them.

Jen: Yeah, and they’re gonna like that because they are most likely the people that are going to be doing your taxes. So, if you’re talking with them about what’s happened over the year and doing some kind of year-end planning, they appreciate that for when they go and actually do the computing that there’s no surprises to them on anything that’s popped up like, “Oh, yeah, hey, we sold our house and, you know, made a bunch of money off of it,” and now, “Oh, there’s going to be this big, you know, tax consequence,” or something like that. You know, no surprises for everyone, everybody is on the same page with how the taxes are gonna work.

Eric: When you go to meet…so, some of our listeners, maybe they’ve never met with an accountant, you know, they’ve had their taxes done or they’ve, you know, use some kind of online system but they’ve never met with someone in person. Do they know the questions to ask them? Or should they be prepared for something? You know, and is there a cost to meet with an accountant or how does that typically work?

Jen: There may be a cost, it depends on the accountant if they will do that or not. Some of them, that’s part of their service that they offer for completing the tax returns but that’s something that you can always…you can call around and ask and call and ask them what their fee schedules are and things like that. And as far as the…I would be prepared with several questions on maybe things that you just don’t know about, whether it be, you know, is there any…even if it’s just, “Is there anything we can do tax-wise to help our situation?”

Maybe that’s the only question that you may have, that’s okay. But in terms of the information, you know, you bring along all of your information that you have as far as income and things like that for the year, they’re going to be able to go through and look and be able to ask more in-depth questions, depending on, you know, what you have there that they may want to know more about.

Eric: Gotcha. All right. So, we’re up to number four, right?

Jen: Yeah. So, once you have that conversation with your tax advisor, maybe you’re saying, “You know, how else can we increase our income? How can we get more?” Because, again, you know, we’re not all winning the lottery, which is the quick and easy way to increase that income but not the most likely. So, you know, you have to look at that too and maybe you’re in the stages of life where, “I’m okay with the income that I have,” and that’s fine too as long as you’ve recognized that, “Here’s the income that I have and I’m okay with it.”

If you’ve looked at it and said, “Oh, geez, here’s the income I have, what else can I do?” Well, you know, maybe that’s looking on getting a promotion, you know, what steps could you do to get to the next level in your career? Or, you know, maybe a side business or something like that that you can work on, whether it be a consulting or whether it be just something thing that you do on the side that you have a passion and just looking at ways that you could…you know, that if you needed to and you could, you can always increase that income. Right? It may not be monetary as well too. For example, you know, I always forget every year.

I teach yoga and I teach at the local YMCA and I don’t get a huge income, I wouldn’t say that that’s a huge increase to my salary, which is okay because I really enjoy doing it. But what I do get is I get a free membership, which is probably the bigger deal, right? Because that’s saving me on having to pay a family membership every year. And sometimes I forget about that and then I think about, “Well, how much it’s costing people to do that?” So, think of other ways too that maybe it’s not monetarily coming into you but, you know, how can you exchange goods or services for less cost? And so, that’s the way we’ve done it in our household, which is probably saved us…I’ve taught there for over 15 years, so it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

Eric: I didn’t realize that about you, that’s cool.

Jen: Yeah.

Eric: So, kind of along those lines, I hope I’m not jumping ahead, but similarly, just increasing your income by reducing expenses, you mentioned it earlier but part of that can come in the form of just renegotiating existing deals that you have.

Jen: Yeah, that’s a great example right now too, you know, look here at the bank of how many refinances we’ve done on mortgages this year because the interest rates and they’re still low. And, you know, that’s something to definitely look at too but I can tell you, we did it this year too and I can tell you that, you know, we’ve decreased the payment amount and we decreased the number of years to pay the payments, so win-win all around. So, if you can do something like that too, maybe it’s not necessarily you going out and getting a new job or something like that, but there are other ways as well.

Eric: Right, right. And even with some of those monthly services that you subscribe to, maybe you…of course, you can cancel them, I mean, that’s one way. But maybe you want to keep it, you can usually call a lot of those places and, you know, negotiate on some scale and in some cases, the threat of cancellation results in a lower price with some of the larger ones. So, that’s something to keep in mind.

Jen: Yeah, the same with whether it be insurance or cable or something like that, that a lot of times you can call and say, “Okay, here’s what I’m paying currently, and is there a better deal out there?” And most of the time there is, so, yeah, always be cognitive of that too, it’s important, yep.

Eric: Yeah, I used to be…growing up, I used to be under the impression that the longer you had an insurance coverage with a particular vendor, that the better set you were, and then later in life, I found that that wasn’t the case and that you could renegotiate that literally every year if you really wanted to and get a better deal. And I never knew that, I mean, years and years lost of dollars.

Jen: Yep, yep.

Eric: All right, let’s stay on the list.

Jen: So, that takes us to number three, which is probably like…well, obviously, the top three of what’s most important, and that is to check your legal or medical documents that you have on file and make sure that they’re up to date. The kind of rule of thumb is you want to look at those documents every three to five years to make sure they’re still up to date or when you have a life event happened, whether that be a death, a birth, changing job, you know, other kind of really life event changing situations that would happen.

And the first legal documents or the technical things that I’m referring to are power of attorney. Those are the documents that somebody can actually basically be you while you’re still living but unable to act on your own, whether that be, you know, to write a check or whatever they may need to do. And there’s a general power of attorney, there’s also a medical power of attorney, which is why I included medical in my list because it could be the same person, a lot of times it is, or it could be a different person that does that.

So, there’s durable power, financial power, medical power of attorney, those you all want to check. I can tell you that within the past probably 10 years or so, power of attorneys weren’t quite a big deal 10 or 15 years ago and they’ve really kind of boomed over the past few years to the point where they’re a lot more picky. The State of Maryland, for example, they have a certain format that the document needs to be in and if it’s not, institutions can refuse to accept them.

They have to have certain words and certain language in them for even transactions to occur, if they don’t have the language in them, they won’t happen. So, not only is it important to have and review these documents but also make sure that if you need them that you have somebody that…attorney or whatnot, professional to take care of handling those documents for you. So, power of attorney, will, which is, you know, what happens to all of your stuff after you pass away.

A living will, which is more medical side, but the living will basically says, you know, things like, “Do you want to have a ventilator on? Do you want a feeding tube?” There’s a whole list of questions that also are subject to that. Maybe you need a trust document depending on your situation, maybe not. There’s other documents as well, too, such as guardianship, but those type of documents are things that you want to have in place.

So, guardianship too can be part of a will, as far as husband and wife and they have small children that are minors and if they need to be taken care of or not if something would happen to the both of them, things like that. You want to make sure you have that in place, too. A lot of people, you know, they don’t want to think about those things but the problem is, is you don’t want to think about them but when they happen, you want to make sure you have those documents in place. Otherwise, if you don’t, it’s an issue

Eric: It can be a tremendous hardship on everybody once something happens, yeah. So, do you have to go to an attorney…like, is an attorney required for those kind of documents or can you work with a wealth advisor or an accountant or how do you…?

Jen: Yeah, you really need to…they are required. We’re not attorneys, so we aren’t allowed to write any of those documents. We can tell you what you need, we can help you with the wording of things as far as what you’re trying to accomplish, you know, if something would happen, where a fund would go or that kind of thing. We can even serve as, you know, personal representative on your estate if you would like us to do that.

But, really, setting up the documents, I highly recommend…especially, like I said, in the state of Maryland and several other states, where there’s a required format. The attorney knows what that is, they’re familiar with that. Even if you get on, you know, some of these online websites that you can download stuff from, my worry is is that they don’t have that language in there, they don’t have it in the correct form, and then you would have a document that isn’t any good to you because it doesn’t meet the criteria.

Eric: Right. So, you go to one of those, for 50 bucks, you can buy the power of attorney document, but it might not be formatted properly for your state.

Jen: Right. Yeah, correct.

Eric: So, a wealth advisor can help point you in the right direction to help you find an attorney or somebody like that?

Jen: Absolutely. Yeah, we work with all the local centers of influence, attorneys, you know, CPAs, accountants, and we are happy to sit down and go over all that with you.

Eric: Gotcha, okay.

Jen: And probably this is backward, but I would say the second is…

Eric: I was gonna drum roll number one.

Jen: The second one is to, obviously, invest in yourself too. And, you know, that can be financially, whether you are…you know, whatever you’re doing, getting your nails done every week or whatnot, but also maybe that’s in the form of education and, you know, continued learning, or maybe it’s just your hobby and what you’re doing. And obviously, some of these things, you have to have them built into your budget, of course, but it’s important, especially this past year, right? That we have some kind of mental stability, in that we’re taking care of ourselves versus taking care of kids on virtual learning and maybe our partners or other relatives that we’re trying to not have them go out if they’re immune-deficient or whatnot.

But, you know, really, make sure that you take time for yourself too and invest in yourself. And, you know, that could also look like, you know, back to what your passions are in the world and maybe you put them into investments as well. If you’re really passionate about, you know, different eco-friendly issues and the environment, there’s actually funds out there that do those kind of things that, you know, you can put money towards.

Eric: Yeah, so you can kind of check off multiple items on your list by doing one thing for yourself. I think the balancing act there can be…you mentioned things like getting your nails done every week or whatever, you know, the thing to pay for yourself, take care of yourself. But earlier on in the list was look at items where you’re spending additionally on…and so the balancing act for a lot of people is finding that balance and knowing, “This is for me and it helps me to be the best me or make me feel better, so I can then do all the other things that I need to do that were on that list.” And so, finding that balance is something that I think every person has to take a look at and understand for themselves.

Jen: Yeah. Absolutely, yeah. And you notice that I said there at the end that it has to be in your budget if you’re doing your nail and stuff.

Eric: All right, we are down to number one, the number one item for 2021.

Jen: Number one, which is, you know, make sure that you have an advisor that’s on your team that’s helping you. And, you know, we’ve kind of gone through all these things and maybe the question that has popped up in your mind several times is, “I’m not sure what allocation I should be in,” or, “Oh, gosh, okay, I can set up a budget but maybe I’m missing something.” You even asked a few questions about, “Well, how do you know what kind of questions to answer if you go into, you know, the accountant and you don’t know what to do?”

We can tell you and I would say that having somebody on your team is the most important, that’s there for you in and out and from a locally-run institution. So, I would tell that make sure that you have an advisor that you trust and that understands, you know, what your goals are and helps you customize a plan for you around what you want to do in life.

Eric: Right. Now, so I’m curious what our listeners may think when they hear something like that as the number one item like, “Is that a sales pitch?” When you go in to meet with an advisor like that, some people may shy away from it because they feel like they’re just going to get sold something. How do you respond to something like that?

Jen: Well, I will tell you that, you know, we get paid a salary, so, you know, we’re not a, “Oh, my gosh, if we don’t make this sale, I’m not going to eat this week” kind of environment and our job is to really do what’s best for the client and we really live by that rule. And so, no, you know, you have to build a relationship with somebody and you have to be comfortable with them and if you sit down with the person and they’re doing all that for you, I think everything else will fall into place. But as far as, you know, “Oh, well, this is just, you know, for additional business” no, we really just want to…and that’s our job as a local community bank is to help the community and that’s you. And so, we want to make sure that you’re being the best of you.

Eric: Right. Well, and oftentimes, the wealth advisors depending on their role, they have a fiduciary responsibility even, right, to do what’s right for their client?

Jen: Yeah, we do. And so, that fiduciary responsibility is that we have to do what’s in the best interest for the client and that is not only our rule to ourselves but that is a regulatory rule as well too, so we have to abide by that.

Eric: Awesome. Jen, this has been really helpful. I hope that our listeners have enjoyed this. I think that having kind of these talking points, these 10 things to kind of just strive towards…obviously, doing all of them would be a challenge for anyone who is just getting started but just take baby steps, you know, heading in that direction. If you’re focused on your financial future, I think that any progress is good progress, so anything that you’re doing is a benefit to you and to your wallet, really. So, what can you do to help your future and your family’s future by just putting a little time to focus on your financial situation?

Jen: Absolutely, yep. So, now, Eric, see, you can go and you can feel better because you have this list in your head for 2021 and you’re totally free to just, you know, have a great party this evening and say goodbye to 2020.

Eric: I’m so looking forward to that. Yes, I am. All right. Well, Jen, thank you so much, again, for joining me today and providing such helpful insight. If anyone happens to have questions, maybe they want to go through the list with you, that was a lot to take in and they want to kind of talk about some of the bullet points more in-depth, what’s the best way they can get the support they need?

Jen: Well, you can go to our website, www.mybank.com, and click on the “Wealth” tab, and you’ll see all of the wealth advisors listed out by region and that can help. If you want to talk to me directly, jjones@mybank.com.

Eric: Awesome. Jen, thanks again. Really appreciate it.

Jen: Thanks, Eric. You’re welcome. Happy New Year.

Eric: Happy New Year to you. Well, that brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast or find us on your favorite podcast app. We’re on basically all the podcast apps, so find us on the one that suits you the best and subscribe and give us a five-star review, that helps other people find the content that we’re providing here like Jen just gave. You can also leave feedback, ask questions, or request a topic for us to discuss by sending an email to podcast@mybank.com. Thanks again for listening. We’ll be back next year with more helpful content, but until then, we wish you the best in focusing on what matters most to you.

Woman 1: Do I have enough money to retire?

Man 1: Is my family protected if something happens to me?

Woman 2: Is my plan getting me where I’m going?

Boy: Are you ready if I want to be a doctor?

Man 2: When it comes to money, we all have questions. That’s why First United Wealth Management has a team of experts ready to listen and provide solutions. First United Wealth Management.

Singers: First United, my bank for life.

Eric: This recording is for informational purposes only. Any references in this recording to any person, organization, product, or service does not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation, or affiliation with First United Bank & Trust. First United is not responsible for your use of the information mentioned within this podcast. Please consult legal or tax professionals for counsel as needed.