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By Authority Magazine
June 9, 2022

An Interview with Karen Mangia.

The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Broker.

Mike Broker is the Chief Strategy Officer at Trilogy Financial and a leader in the financial planning and investing space. He understands the need to work diligently in the moment to build something great for the future and is dedicated to helping his clients recover from hard times, get ahead with their finances, and develop a Life Plan. He is also highly focused on helping his team succeed. He authored the book Fit Financial Approach and utilized his background as a Certified Personal Trainer to coach his clients and team members to great success. Mike’s desire to help others pursue their goals runs through all that he does, which is why he’s quickly risen through management levels at Trilogy to lead this great team. Culture and wellness for the team is something that is at the forefront of Mike’s everyday operations. He wants to help cultivate the best and most effective team of Financial Advisors and support staff so they can be their best in helping everyday Americans get a handle on their finances.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life.

You know that saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life?” It’s complete crap. I love what I do. It has been a passion of mine for well over a decade, and it has still been hard at times and definitely felt like work! The saying should be, “If you love what you do, you will be willing to do the hard work.” When you know that the next phone call to a prospective client could help them answer a financial concern that has kept them awake at night for months, you’ll make that next call even when you’re ready to go home and call it a day. I can’t pinpoint a specific example, but every time I have a client become emotional in my office, because I have helped them overcome a hurdle in their life, I am invigorated to get to work helping more people.

Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?

For several years, Trilogy has completed a full 360-degree review of our staff. We have an outside, third-party complete surveys and interviews with every employee of the firm to gauge their employee satisfaction and engagement with their work. Our executive and leadership teams receive a report with scores and insights from across the company to support a positive work environment.

Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?

In my recent studies for my Executive MBA at the University of Denver, I actually studied the cost of presenteeism on American businesses. Presenteeism is represented by workers who go to their jobs, but due to illness, injury, or a basic lack of wellness, they are not as productive and focused as they could be. While many illnesses or injuries are unavoidable, I would argue that some forms of lower back pain, arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension could be at least mitigated with a healthy lifestyle. I won’t go into a ton of detail here, but lower back pain is experienced by 25.7% of Americans in a given three-month period of time! Based on a study from Lockheed Martin in 2004, they found that back pain causes a 5.5% loss of productivity throughout the year. If you multiply that by a quarter of your workforce and their productive output, it is not a small amount of profit we are talking about for any business, and that’s just one malady!

Wellness is not just a benefit that Millennials and Gen Z would like to see offered by their employer as if it were a ping pong table or nap room. It effects a businesses bottom line and should be taken seriously.

Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?

I would ask them to try it. Take the leap. The worst that happens is you spend some money building good will among your staff and increase your recruiting capabilities. The best-case scenario is you see a meaningful bump in productivity and revenues. The WHO study is the tip of the iceberg for anyone who looks for research on the subject. Mental, physical, and emotional wellness all have studies showing their financial benefit if you’re willing to look.

Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?

Our CEO, Jeff Motske, has also repeatedly pushed his company team members to focus on work-life balance. He understands and values the fact that we have families and lives outside of work

As our CSO, I wrote the Fit Financial Approach which is intended to be a book that helps people see the correlation between your financial health and your physical health. I believe strongly in wellness, and my book is available at no cost to our employees to support their wellness journeys.

We also have a recognition points system where you can recognize other employees for living our core values. We can gain extra points through living a healthy lifestyle by reaching a certain number of steps per day. We also have access to discounts on fitness and wellness services across the country. Our team members can use their points for certain rewards — one of which is a fitness consultation and planning with a personal trainer.

We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.

A lot of the innovative and new programs we’re offering our team members overlap across multiple categories of wellness. We want our team to perform at their best, and we know it requires a balance to do so. America isn’t like European work standards, where they can have long breaks throughout the day, shorter work weeks, and long vacations in the summer or winter. But it’s important that we find ways to help our employees find balance so they can be their best.

  • Mental Wellness: One of the standards we’ve always maintained is unlimited PTO for our salary employees. We know it’s important to have that flexibility and not have the anxiety of eating up your PTO if you need to stay home with a sick child or take time for oneself. We are also finalizing a hybrid work operating process with the purpose of providing flexibility for our team members to take care of personal needs while also remaining collaborative with their team members. Over the last few years, we’ve found that this flexibility is critical to mental wellness, productivity and a feeling of personal success.
  • Emotional Wellness: We have launched a book club where we will regularly select business-related books to read and discuss. Not only is this a way for us to come together socially to discuss ideas and concepts, but it’s an opportunity for personal growth for each of our team members who join us. The book we’re reading now is Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why', which is one of my favorite books. Every time I read it, I learn something new. Separately, we launched the Trilogy Leadership University for any of our employees who are seeking personal growth and self-improvement opportunities. It’s for employees of all roles, skillsets and experience levels where they can learn leadership skills from top business leaders from inside and outside the organization. This 12-week course is giving our team a new sense of pride in the work they do, their fellow team members they support, and it’s generally uplifting and empowering them to grow and achieve their dreams.
  • Social Wellness: The book club and Trilogy Leadership University I mentioned earlier are both great examples of social wellness at Trilogy Financial. Another program we have is a real-time recognition platform where employees can earn redeemable points. Some of those points include special social outings with company leadership, like a day of golf with our CEO Jeff Motske. We want to be able to give all of our employees recognition, access to leadership, mental breaks, reasons to celebrate and more.
  • Physical Wellness: The real-time recognition platform I mentioned earlier has a lot of aspects to it. One of the ways our team can earn points is by walking 10,000 steps a day. And those points can be redeemed for a number of different things, it can be books or apparel, these experiences with leadership I mentioned, or even other physical wellness things like a personal training package with me (since I’m also a fitness coach).
  • Financial Wellness: The current state of the nation in 2022 has us all feeling the impact of inflation, rising gas and food prices, and more. We have committed to provide monthly gas cards of $50 for the foreseeable future for each of our hourly employees to offset the cost burden of gas.

Generally, there are more things that we’re working on at Trilogy to help our team across these wellness categories. I’m excited to continue to launch more impactful wellness offerings to our team.

Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?

Turnover is one of the biggest cost burdens to businesses. Providing benefits to your team members for professional growth, wellness and flexibility will help improve productivity, help them achieve their goals, support their needs and keep them working hard with you for longer.

One of the other reasons why I’m personally passionate about wellness in the workplace is because if someone on your team is in need, and we can alleviate that need through some of these offerings. It’s the mentorship, the coaching, the support, and ultimate the impact that I want to provide to our team members. If we can support them in their overall wellness, they can do their job better, live their life better, recharge better, learn better, grow better and more. Like I mentioned before, we’re the only country who expects people to work as long as they do without substantial breaks. And it’s proven to be not sustainable.

How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?

We are helping our leaders (and all employees) learn new skills to support a work well culture through our Trilogy Leadership University. It’s a 12-week program where we bring in some of the best leaders from notable companies to teach on topics such as the importance of gratitude and how to lead with empathy. Our team hears from great leaders with real stories, examples, problem solving and more. We often refer to it as a mini MBA course because we provide a real professorship environment where people can learn the real-life business skills needed in today’s work culture.

Our Leadership Book Club is also more than simply reading a book and talking about it together. It’s a conversation starter that gives permission to team members to create a dialogue around leaders and leadership. We want our team to know that it’s ok to be a leader, in fact we want them to and this is one way we’re giving them the skills to cultivate that. Humility is one of the pillars of our company and we invite everyone on our team to be their real, authentic selves in every environment we create. And book club meetings like this give everyone the power of a voice.

We’ve been working hard for a long time to focus on wellness in the workplace and building a culture that both embraces it and thrives in it. I’m proud to share the average years our employees have been with us is 9.4 years. That’s great tenure! It tells me we’re doing it right.

Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?

We are social animals, and we make improvements in our lives together. Chances are, if our friends are doing it, so are we (sorry, mom!). So, get together and prioritize your wellness. Do some yoga during your morning standup zoom meeting. Take a moment to breathe between meetings instead of going back-to-back all day. If you have a one-on-one weekly meeting, go on what I call my walkabout meetings and take it outside around the block a few times. Some of my most productive meetings have been on the move.

There are simple ways you can incorporate wellness into your team or organizational culture to motivate those around you.

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”

  1. Individualized Health Insurance — discounts based on healthy habits — When I was studying abroad in South Africa in 2004, there was a company we met with doing this. The fact that it is 2022, and the practice of rewarding Americans for healthy habits is not yet mainstream is baffling to me.
  2. Measuring productivity rather than time — I believe in a results-oriented work environment (ROWE). If you can get the job done in 35 hours, I don’t need you to watch the clock to punch your time, and if you wait around, chances are you’ll distract those who need the full 40 hours while waiting for your time.
  3. Workers will demand more flexibility and support from their employers — When possible, hybrid work arrangements will become commonplace. Work that previously needed to be completed in an office can now be far more flexible, and employees will demand that. Support from an employer can take many forms, which we’ve spoken about previously. It could be personal or professional growth, physical and emotional wellness, or even a gesture that says you care about your employees. Money will only be one part of a decision to stay or go when it comes to employment in the future.
  4. Wellness is contagious — Let’s be honest, lifestyles are contagious. Whether positive or negative habits, they are generative. When I was in college, I picked up smoking, unfortunately. It was one of the most challenging habits to break, and there is no way I would have been able to quit without my wife supporting me and quitting with me. After we had quit and modeled the way, our parents and others close to us quit smoking as well. Smoking is a bad habit that hurts your health and your wealth, so although embarrassing, I am proud that we were able to quit and influence others to do the same. We can turn the downward trends around if enough people subscribe to a healthy life and convince others to join in.
  5. You cannot replace lousy management with wellness benefits — As usual, the pendulum will swing too far, and we will most likely have to learn the hard way. Employers will create these elaborate and unique benefit packages only to see their people quit anyway. These benefits may keep employees for a bit longer than they would have stayed otherwise, but a bad boss is a bad boss. Eventually, poor leadership will drive people away, no matter what benefits you provide.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?

A few years ago, the companies that offered wellness benefits were few and far between. They were seen by their competitors as gimmicks and useless. Today, the conversation is changing. Workers are already asking for benefits like this, and soon they will be demanding these benefits. Most Americans know they should eat a banana rather than a candy bar, but receiving a discount on their health insurance for choosing the former more often will go a long way. Most Americans know they should save for retirement, but making employees opt out rather than opt into a retirement plan will help create good habits. We can become more healthy together, and it will benefit all of us.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Absolutely, people can follow our journey on Trilogy Financial’s LinkedIn page!

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.

Click here to read the full story. 

By Authority Magazine
April 8, 2022

By: Jason Hartman |

As a part of my series about The 5 Essentials of Smart Investing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Broker.

Mike Broker is a leader in the financial planning and investing space and understands the need to work diligently in the moment to build something great for the future. He began his fiduciary focused and financial advisory career in the beginning stages of the Great Recession of 2008. Mike quickly gained great experience working with clients as they strived to recover and get ahead during a difficult time. He’s also the author of the book Fit Financial Approach. To write the book, Broker utilized his background as a Certified Personal Trainer to coach his clients and team members to great success, paving the way to grow quickly into the role of Chief Strategy Officer at Trilogy Financial. As an Investment Advisor Representative with Trilogy Capital, Inc., in which he holds his Series 65 Registration. He holds his Series 6, 7, 24, and 63 Registrations with LPL Financial and his Life and Health Insurance License. Mike leverages his expertise every day to help Trilogy clients build the path to saving, investing, and pursuing their dreams. It would be a great asset to share his five things essential to smart investing.

Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Hi! I’m happy to. With the last name Broker, it’s hard to say my path to finance wasn’t fate. My path to the financial planning industry actually started with a car accident when I was twelve years old. It was a bad accident that resulted in piecing my face back together and a bit of money for the trouble. Being a good steward of the funds awarded, my dad introduced me to his financial advisor, and I fell in love with the profession. All I wanted to do was help people live better, and at a very young age I realized that financial planners could do just that.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I started in this business as a financial advisor who only wanted to help clients improve their lives; I didn’t want to lead anyone or manage people. As I was improving my skills and growing as a planner, I found that sharing what I had learned personally and professionally was a way that I could impact more and more Americans. I went from running a small team, to managing a larger team, to an office, to becoming an executive for a national firm — kicking and screaming the whole way. As a sole advisor, you can only comprehensively help 150 to 200 families before running out of time and capacity. In my current role, I have the opportunity to impact far more families nationwide. I’ve learned not to shy away from risk and challenges. Don’t let your prior judgments and expectations hold you back from trying something new. You never know — it could become your new passion, or an opportunity to create real change in your corner of the world.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At Trilogy Financial, we are working on helping everyday Americans feel confident about their future. We’re working to build a scalable, yet individualized approach to financial planning and coaching that may help people make critical financial decisions — ones most Americans feel ill-equipped to handle on their own. We are building a movement that should help those in our country who really need it and have been continually overlooked in financial planning. In an industry known for selling products and lacking integrity, we are working towards becoming a brand that Americans can turn to when they have questions and concerns about their money.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?

Financial literacy is not a set of concepts you can tell someone, and they may remember for the rest of their lives. You cannot memorize a list of facts and regurgitate them on a test. Financial concepts are also intimidating for most Americans, and they can seem overwhelming and complex.

The truth is that financial literacy is a set of information that all works together, and it can be easy to learn if you’re willing to take it one step at a time and apply the knowledge gained as you learn.

Some of the basics are dollar-cost averaging, diversification, asset allocation, inflation, and compound interest. You can learn investment strategies, investment tools, financial products, taxes, and the like. You could also hire a financial advisor to educate you and use their extensive knowledge of all of these concepts to guide you in building a plan, just as you would hire a personal trainer to show you how to use the machines and utilize proper form while working toward good fitness.

If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

  1. I would add a personal finance curriculum in schools early and often. My wife works in education, supporting schools and districts with math curriculum and implementation. Kids learn math by building little by little, understanding and mastering the last skill before adding the next. They build this knowledge and skill over years before using math every day as an adult. In the majority of America, we don’t teach kids about personal finances. Many parents don’t feel confident enough to teach their kids what they know, so kids are left to trial and error.
  2. Consistent titles in the financial planning industry. I’d love to see some consistency and enforcement around the titles in financial planning. Someone who provides comprehensive financial planning, sells insurance, sells mortgages, and isn’t licensed could be called a financial advisor. I think the title of financial professional should be for those who are not licensed; “advisor” reserved for those who are licensed but do not do full planning; “financial planner” should be reserved for those who offer planning to clients.
  3. Amnesia from past public opinion. The financial planning industry has had a poor reputation for some time, and rightfully so because the American consumer often starts at a place of distrust with financial advisors. However, studies have shown that having a financial advisor helps Americans make better decisions with their money over time. I would love to see more people willing to seek out a planner’s advice when they have money issues or goals, rather than not engaging because they are afraid of being lied to or sold a product with no merit.

Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider.” If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

  1. Don’t watch the market day-to-day. Financial plans are built over a long time. The day-to-day market is unpredictable at best, and making emotional changes to your long-term plan based on short-term changes can be detrimental to your future.
  2. The news sells ads, not information. The news reports that the market drops far more than the market gains because people will stay glued to the television when the market is going down. They are not giving you all the facts; instead, they give you the information you need to stay tuned during the commercials. My advice: just turn it off.
  3. Ask yourself “when is the best time to plant a tree?” The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, because it would be big and fruitful today. If you didn’t do that, the second-best time to plant a tree is now! Get started as soon as you can, as the most valuable resource you have is time, no matter how old you are.
  4. Remain “risky” in retirement. A portion of your investments should be set aside to keep up with inflation. Many people think you should retire and move your investments to cash or bonds, and the problem is inflation could eat away at the value of those investments. Living a long time could strain a too-conservative plan.
  5. Boring wins. If you see someone telling you to get on the next get-rich-quick scheme or invest in something that will “hit it big,” run in the opposite direction as fast as you can. Planning is about habits and long-term discipline and getting rich quick happens to very few lucky people. If you’re reading this article, it’s probably not you. Investments that are tried and true can be risky, but you know the risk you are taking for the relative reward you could receive. Stick to investments that make sense to you, and stay away from the flashy, enticing ideas.

What are your thoughts about investing in cryptocurrency? Can you explain what you mean?

I’m not going to go in-depth on what cryptocurrencies are, but it’s important to understand that they are highly speculative and are subject to many unique types of risk. The technology behind it, blockchain technology, is rapidly evolving with the possibility of impacting businesses way beyond just digital currency. I suggest you do your own research on blockchains and their role in cryptocurrency systems.

What are your thoughts about day trading using apps like Robinhood? Can you explain what you mean?

Day trading is essentially gambling, as the short-term markets respond to emotions, news, fear and greed. No one knows what will happen, and even if you have the best resources in the industry, an unexpected world event can instantly unravel your plans. Markets over the long-term respond to fundamental economics and trends, so when planning for the future you want, you could produce results if you stick to your plan over a long period.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am very fortunate to have the upbringing that I had. My dad taught me the importance of having a financial advisor and saving my money. He helped me open a Roth IRA to begin funding when I had my first job at 16 years old. Then, despite my being brand new when I became a financial advisor, he was my second client who trusted me from the beginning. Thankfully, it has worked out for us both, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the start he provided.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Esse quam videri” is a Latin phrase that means “to be rather than to appear.” When I was coming up in the business and learning my way around financial planning, I was struggling with having clients trust my recommendations. I went into my manager’s office and complained, “I just want to be seen as someone they can trust!” His advice has been burned in my memory, and I have repeated it many times to those who look to me for advice — “If you want to be seen a certain way, don’t wish to be seen that way. Just BE it. If you want to be seen as trustworthy, work to become trustworthy. Make good recommendations. Become a better planner. Then, and only then, will you be seen as trustworthy because you will be.” Sage advice.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Health and wealth! Many Americans are unhealthy and unprepared for their financial future. If I could create a movement to impact people the most, it would be to have Americans take a Fit Financial Approach to life!

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advice offered through Trilogy Capital, a registered investment advisor. Trilogy Financial and Trilogy Capital are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

Click here to read the full story.

By bankrate logo
November 11, 2019

Written by: Bankrate Staff |

Millennials (individuals born between 1981 and 1996) number 83.2 million and are characteristically known as the largest, best-educated and most diverse generation in U.S. history. However, saving for retirement, budgeting and establishing and maintaining a financial plan remains a challenge for millennials, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Nearly half of all millennials are already concerned about their ability to retire when they choose and two-thirds are concerned about outliving their retirement savings. Crushing student loan debt has also crippled this generation’s ability to invest.

Millennials’ slower start to investing can also be attributed to watching their parents go through the Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s. They may be more wary of the stock market, which can inhibit their willingness to take risks.

In fact, three in 10 millennials say cash is their favorite long-term investment, but a third of Gen Xers, 38 percent of baby boomers and 44 percent of the Silent Generation invest in stocks. Millennials have traditionally preferred saving their money rather than investing and view savings accounts as a safer bet than the stock market.

If you’re a millennial, Bankrate’s guide can help you determine why it’s important for you to invite risk, how to determine your investment goals and how to get started in the stock market.

Why should millennials invest?

Because they witnessed the Recession, you may perceive investing as risky, but not investing is actually riskier. “The worst thing you can do in your mid-twenties to mid-thirties is not saving money and invest. If you invest money early on, it gives your money a long time to grow,” says Mike Kerins, founder and CEO of RobustWealth. He says that in spite of the ups and downs of the market, it’s rare that the stock market stays down for a long period of time.

Stock investments deliver bigger returns over cash and bonds in the long run. Money sitting in savings accounts is stagnant and subject to rising inflation, whereas stock market investments can compound over the years. More specifically, large-capitalization stocks returned 10% compounded annually from 1926-2018. Over that same time period, long-term government bonds returned only 5.5% annually and T-bills returned 3.3% annually.

“The surest way to build wealth over long time horizons is to invest in a diversified portfolio of common stocks,” says Robert Johnson, professor of finance at Creighton University and chairman and CEO of Economic Index Associates.

The other advantage of saving money over time is that it’s like a snowball effect. “Millennials need to begin compounding early and let that compounding work its patient magic over decades,” says Johnson. Compounding means that when you earn interest on your investments, you earn interest on the interest.

For example, if you start investing $6,000 per year when you’re 25 years old, you’ll have a larger return than if you just deposited that money in a savings account or under the mattress.

Evaluate how much you’re able to invest

Just getting started is critical for any young investor. How does a 20-something novice investor with a modest income (who’s also likely making payments on student loans) get into the market in the first place? The first step is to determine your current situation.

Calculate your total debt

Put pen to paper (or get a budget app) and figure out how much money you make per month minus how much you have going out. Consider:

Rent or house payment

Student, auto and other monthly loan payments

Credit card monthly payments

Other debts or required payments

After you figure out generally how much it costs you to live on a month-to-month basis, you can determine how much extra you have to invest.

Next, determine how you’d like to approach your student loans, credit card debt and any other debt you have. Aim to pay off your high-interest debt first (called the debt avalanche method) or pay off your smallest amount of debt first (debt snowball method). The research shows that it’s much easier to stay motivated when you pay off smaller debts first because you get a quick win right away.

Mike Broker, chief strategy officer at Trilogy Financial, says, “You can start small while paying down large student loan debts or working on other obligations, but start to save for your future now.”

Determine your financial risk level

The Recession may leave some millennials with residual nervousness about the ups and downs of the stock market — but these ups and downs are normal. Consider goals-based investing to specifically invest for specific time horizons. In other words, if you have a short-term goal, such as saving for a house in a few years, you might consider investing more conservatively.

Decide where your investment funds will come from

Where will you pull your extra money for investing? From your savings account? From loose dollars you have in your checking account at the end of the month? What if you have no extra cash for investing and need to come up with an alternative plan? Here are several options for getting started.

Savings

If you have some money stashed in a savings account, you might consider it seed money for your investment accounts. Many companies require you to invest a minimum amount of money to get started. For example, the minimum initial investment for Vanguard Target Retirement Funds is $1,000. A $3,000 minimum applies to most other Vanguard mutual funds.

Set an investing budget

Once you determine how much you have leftover at the end of the month, put that money to work for you directly into an investment account at the end of the month. Amounts might vary per month (the car might inevitably need a new alternator) but at least you have an idea of a general amount to budget toward investing per month.

Educate yourself on stock market basics

Financial lingo can seem intimidating, but as you learn more about stock market basics and stay up to date on financial news, your financial knowledge will grow.

Beginner investing terms you need to know

Check out Bankrate’s full glossary of investing terms, but here are a few must-know-now terms:

Bonds: Bonds are loans made to large organizations, including corporations, cities and national governments. The interest payment (called the coupon) is what bondholders earn for loaning their funds to the issuer.

Brokerage account: An arrangement between an investor and a licensed brokerage firm where the investor can deposit funds with the firm and place investment orders through the brokerage.

ETFs (exchange-traded funds): An ETF is a basket of securities you buy or sell through a brokerage firm on a stock exchange. ETFs are offered on virtually all asset classes ranging from traditional investments to alternative assets like commodities or currencies.

Mutual funds: A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment fund that pools money from many investors to purchase securities.

Stocks: Stocks are securities that represent an ownership share in a company.

Financial news and education

Stay up to date on financial news/general stock market news, which you can find on any major news source. Brokerages such as Fidelity have a ton of free beginner investing resources and educational tools to help get you started on the right track. Do research on your own to determine what might work best for you.

Many millennials are interested in socially responsible investing (SRI), which can blend in investing with socially responsible causes to bring about a positive change. Studies have found that millennials prefer to invest where their money can make an impact. In fact, U.S. Trust found that 76 percent of high net-worth millennial investors have reviewed their assets for SRI impact and Morgan Stanley found millennial investors to be twice as likely as others to invest in companies that incorporate socially responsible practices.

Determine your long-term and short term goals

Short-term and long-term investing both require a different approach to investment goal-setting.

Short-term investment vehicles

Paying off student loans, vacation funds, financing a dream purchase, buying a house — all of these are considered short-term goals. Paying off student loans could also be considered another short-term goal.

If you have a short-term investing goal, consider savings accounts, short-term bond funds, money market accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs).

Savings accounts

Savings accounts are bank accounts that earn a small amount of interest. Marcus by Goldman Sachs Bank is a great place to start, and offers a high-yield savings account with a competitive APY. The best savings account rates will not net you too much interest at all, which is why

they’re ideal for short-term investing. Never invest any funds earmarked for retirement in a savings account.

Short-term bond funds

Short-term bond portfolios typically involve corporate and other investment-grade U.S. fixed-income issues from one to three years. These portfolios are attractive only if you have a short savings horizon because they are less sensitive to interest rates than portfolios with longer durations.

Money market accounts

Money market accounts are a lot like savings accounts. Unlike savings accounts, where your bank or credit union can only loan out your cash, in the case of a money market account, the bank can put your money into low-risk investments such as certificates of deposit or government securities.

Certificates of deposit (CDs)

CDs are money invested for a set period. The issuer pays interest at regular intervals until a specific date of maturity. Once your CD matures, you receive your original investment, plus all of the interest you’ve accumulated during that set period. This is only a good option if you can be sure you won’t need your money before maturity. You’ll have you have to pay a fee in order to withdraw the funds before maturity.

Long-term investment vehicles

It’s fine to have some short-term investments, but millennials should always have some sort of funds invested for long-term goals that you can turn into college funds for future children, a second stream of income and/or retirement.

Some excellent long-term investment vehicles include equity index funds, equity ETFs and mutual funds.

Equity index funds

Compared to bond market index funds, equity index funds can offer more risk (which is what you want when you have a longer time horizon). Your returns are higher compared to a bond market index fund, and equity index funds offer you the advantage of a hands-off, diversified, low-cost method of long-term investing.

Equity ETFs

Equity ETFs track an index and usually offer low expense ratios. You can also buy a basket of investments in a single fund, which offers ample diversification. They trade like a stock and are higher risk compared to a bond market ETF, ideal for long-term investing.

Mutual funds

Mutual funds deliver diversification, a distinct advantage compared to choosing individual stocks (a much riskier approach). A disadvantage of mutual funds is that they’re typically more expensive to manage over the long-term because they’re professionally managed.

Investing for retirement

More than any other generation, millennials are interested in work/life balance, saving and retiring early. You don’t need to work for an employer to invest for retirement, but if you do work for an employer, Kerins says it’s important to take advantage of your company match.

In order to take advantage of the company match, you must put in a specified amount of money into your company’s retirement fund. Under current regulations, an employee may contribute up to $19,000 of pre-tax earnings to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan ($25,000 if you’re age 50 or older).

If you want to invest outside of your company’s 401(k) match, or your company doesn’t offer a 401(k), open an IRA. A traditional or Roth IRA are good choices. For 2019, your total contributions to all traditional and Roth IRAs cannot be more than $6,000 ($7,000 if you’re age 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year, if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.

How to get started in the stock market

It’s possible to go it alone or get help from a financial advisor or through other methods, but you can also go the DIY route and open investment accounts with a low-cost provider like TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Charles Schwab or Vanguard.

DIY options

Broker says, “As a generation, millennials mostly like to be hands-off and make things automated, so send money to your savings account, Roth IRA or whatever vehicle is right for you automatically every month.”

For millennials who want to do the research and/or choose their investments completely solo, certain brokerage accounts are geared toward beginning investors, such as Robinhood or Fidelity. Monitor your portfolio to make sure you’re on track with your investment goals.

Guided investing

If you’d like guidance in building your investment portfolio, consider using robo-advisors. Robo-advisors are investment management companies that rely on computers rather than human beings to help you choose your investments. (Though some robo-advisors do allow you to talk to actual financial advisors.) Robo-advisors ask questions about accepted risk level, time horizon and overall financial goals to give you the best asset allocation possible and rebalance your portfolio over time.

The most important thing to remember? Just get started. With time on your side, Johnson says you have so many options at your disposal. “Time is the greatest ally of young investors because of the magic of compound interest,” he says.

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By aaptiv logo
November 1, 2018

Thanksgiving – with its juicy turkey, rich side dishes (scalloped potatoes, anyone?), and an array of desserts—isn’t the most health-conscious holiday. But neither is the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is one of the biggest consumer holidays of the year, with hoards of people lining up in the middle of the night to score deals on everything from clothes to cell phones to TVs. A spending frenzy won’t have the same immediate impact on your body as multiple slices of pumpkin pie. But, there’s no denying the strong link between financial and physical health. Here, we explore how your finances affect your health and how you can get a better handle on your money—and health—in the process.

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