Financial Wellness Has Both Practical and Intangible Implications

Financial worries are the most common cause of stress among both men and women, and financial wellness is closely linked with physical and mental health. But what does financial wellness actually mean? The phrase can be defined in both practical and intangible terms, according to agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

In a recent report on financial wellbeing, the CFPB says there are four elements that go into a practical definition of financial wellness: feeling in control of your money, having capacity to address a financial emergency, being on track toward your goals, and having the financial freedom to make life choices.

Definition of Financial Wellness

The definition of financial wellness has both concrete and emotional aspects. Beyond just your savings and income levels, the term describes how you feel about your financial situation – that is, your money relationship. Some wealthy people experience heavy financial stress, while some low-income folks feel secure and satisfied with where they stand financially. Thus financial well-being has less to do with how much money you have than with your attitude and capabilities: do you have a budget you can stick to? Could you handle an unexpected expense? Do you feel overwhelmed, or do you feel inspired when you think about money?

Further, financial wellness means the ability to translate knowledge about money management into specific action. Becoming financially secure requires taking practical steps to set up workable systems, which helps people avoid the stress of financial problems. That’s why many companies now recognize that a financial wellness program in the workplace can boost employee morale and productivity.

“Try to save something while your salary is small; it’s impossible to save after you begin to earn more.” (Jack Benny)

“More people should learn to tell their dollars where to go instead of asking them where they went.” (Roger Babson)

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” (Joe Biden)

How Money Experts Describe Financial Wellness

“Financial literacy is not an end in itself, but a step-by-step process. It begins in childhood and continues throughout a person’s life all the way to retirement. Instilling the financial-literacy message in children is especially important, because they will carry it for the rest of their lives.” (George Carl, Chairman of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission)

“Financial health is a privilege that should be afforded to everyone – and it starts with being willing to have the conversation while also recognizing our own background and bias.” (Erin Lowry, Millennial personal finance expert, author, and speaker)

Above book or classroom learning, financial wellness demands practical action. Although helping people build financial knowledge is essential, learning has no value unless the person can apply the knowledge to changing his or her habits for the better. In other words, it’s not enough to know what a 401(k) plan is. You must be able to evaluate your specific options for retirement planning and contributions, and make qualified decisions that help you prepare. Otherwise your knowledge gets you no closer to secure retirement than someone who knows nothing about 401(k) plans.

Advantages of Financial Wellness Programs

The notion may seem rudimentary that helping people manage their money simply requires giving them high-quality financial education. But truly building financial capability that translates into behavior change and positive action is much more complex.

A workplace financial wellness program that works is one that not only quantifiably increases employees’ financial knowledge, but also supports the objectives of the sponsoring organization. A well-designed program for employee financial wellness not only increases employees’ overall physical and mental health, but also may positively affect the corporate bottom line. Developing such a program requires specialized expertise.

The NFEC has worked with several thousand organizations over the past 10 years to design top-quality programs centered around high-grade curriculum content, a vibrant user experience, and quantifiable outcomes.

Workplace Financial Wellness for Employees

Many employers today have workplace wellness programs, but only recently has financial education become a priority component of such programs. Companies are increasingly aware that personal finance problems contribute to employee stress, lowered productivity, and overall company culture.

Fortunately, an employer can take a proactive approach to address workers’ financial issues, increase their sense of well-being, and transform the working environment by offering employee financial wellness programs. Offering comprehensive financial education to staff also helps the company comply with DoL and ERISA regulations.

The measurable results of high-quality workplace financial education may be an immediate boost in an employee’s self-confidence or reduced personal stress. Over the long-term, as workers begin applying learning into real-world action, the positive outcomes can have even more dramatic effect on the workplace atmosphere.

Company financial education programs designed by the NFEC are proven to deliver excellent return on investment, boost productivity and job satisfaction, help companies avoid potential liability, and have long-lasting impact on employees’ lives.

The Importance of Selecting Best-quality Financial Wellness Educators, Consultants, and Resources

Should you wish to begin a workplace financial wellness program, the background of the presenter and quality of the educational materials should receive top consideration. The NFEC has assembled a network of certified financial educators, coaches, and counselors who have met top qualifications for compliance with industry standards. These certified financial wellness coaches feel passionate about helping others begin the journey toward financial wellness. They place highest priority on client success and achieve results through customized education, counseling, and accountability. In addition, NFEC curriculum resources are well-recognized as top-of-the-line in the financial education space.

Quotes about Financial Wellness

Influential individuals from all spheres are beginning to spread the word about the need for increased financial wellness. When prominent celebrities, politicians, economists, and educators speak out about the importance of financial education, their voices reach individuals from all backgrounds and demographics. And when the people as a whole support an initiative, policymakers take note.

The following quotes about financial wellness illustrate the rising interest in building financial wellness on a significant scale. The hope is that employers will become more aware of the negative effects of financial issues on employee stress and productivity, and take steps to implement financial wellness programs in their workplaces.

“Like all learning, financial education is a process that should begin at an early age and continue throughout life. This cumulative process builds the skills necessary for making critical financial decisions that affect one’s ability to attain the assets, such as education, property, and savings, that improve economic well-being.” (Alan Greenspan, economist and former Chair of the US Federal Reserve)

“We don’t invest in financial literacy in a meaningful way. We should be teaching elementary school children how to balance a checkbook, how to do basic accounting, why it’s important to pay your bills on time. First, education. Begin the learning process as early as possible, in elementary school. Second, encourage and support entrepreneurism. Third, policy. I know it’s a priority of the US Treasury to augment financial inclusion and increase financial literacy. We need more government agencies to emphasize that by providing generous support of efforts to increase financial literacy.” (Kabir Sehgal, author and corporate strategist, First Data Corporation)

“Being promoted to a top position in your organization, or even being elected to public office, does not suddenly endow you with financial literacy, if you did not acquire and develop it, earlier in your life.” (Strive Masiyiwa, businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist)

“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” (Warren Buffett)

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.” (Billy Graham)

“The best thing money can buy is financial independence.” (Rob Berger)

It seems simple – to help people with their personal finances provide them with a quality education. But there’s much more to it.

Designing a financial wellness program that creates measurable increases in financial capabilities while supporting your organizational objectives takes expert design and execution.

Full Service Financial Wellness Program

Until recently, if you wanted to make a real impact on the financial capabilities of those you serve, you’ve encountered significant barriers. New advancements now give organizations ways to bring professional-level financial wellness program to their organization or community.

Having served several thousand organizations over the last decade, we have proven systems that provide you with educational-grade content, positive user experience, and a team of experts working for you.

Our Mission as an Organization Includes Providing:

Access to Quality Programming

Over 400 hours of evidence-based financial literacy assets are available and accommodate your branding to create a cohesive experience. All are 100% independent educational materials; no financial products are promoted.

Lower Cost per Impact

Technological and process enhancement, combined with a team of educators that spans all 50 states and over 40 countries, reduces the investment required to create a positive impact in your target group.

Results to Scale Programming

Deliver a quantifiable impact to the end user in terms of short-term improvements and longer-term behavior change measures. Empirical indicators also measure impact on the organization’s bottom line, so the program is in position to scale.

Experience

Having served organizations ranging from small workshops to developing national campaigns currently serving more than a half million people, few in the world possess our level of expertise in promoting financial wellness initiatives.

Common Challenges

To make a measurable impact on a person’s financial capabilities – many programs fall short. The current reality is that most financial education programs:

When locating a financial education service provider, your reputation is on the line. You will find many financial literacy salespeople who push a single solution. These options do little to address your organization’s unique needs.

Best Practice & Processes

There are recognized best practices for developing, promoting, and sustaining a financial wellness program. The NFEC has devoted a decade into researching, designing, and testing programming. Now a recognized thought leader in the space, we are bringing the resources and materials we’ve used to serve organizations around the globe to you.

Our process is different than others that simply sell you a financial education product as ‘the’ solution. With more than 80 financial literacy assets, the NFEC takes time to understand your needs; then creates a unique programming mix designed to meet your specific objectives.

Program Design Process

One-size-fits-all financial literacy products / programs do not work for most organizations. Each group has unique educational, organizational, and philanthropic objectives that require experienced professionals to deploy specialized solutions.

Among the vast array of financial literacy programs that have cropped up over the past decade, few deliver results. Much of these programs’ failure is rooted in a lack of financial education expertise to guide initial program planning and design.

NFEC consultants are among the most experienced in the space, having served thousands of organizations over the last decade. They take the time to understand your needs, clearly define program objectives, and design a customized program to best meet your larger objectives.

Discovery

Successful financial wellness programs balance end user and organizational goals. Understanding the needs of all parties helps ensure that a program benefits all stakeholders. During the ‘discovery’ phase, our team uncovers your unique goals – this lays the foundation for clearly-defined programming objectives and custom program design.

  • Participants. The needs of the target audience to be reached by the campaign are uncovered.
  • Organization. The right questions are asked of key stakeholders to help guide the overall initiative design.
  • Feasibility. Consultants assess the feasibility of your vision, given the available monetary and personnel resources.
  • Scale. Discover growth plans to ensure that the initial rollout aligns with longer-term goals.

Define

Financial literacy programs that do not clearly define quantifiable measures of success in advance of development lack structure and are likely to deliver subpar results. The ‘define’ phase provides the measures that will provide the overall blueprints for the campaign and barometers of the program’s impact.

Our consultants develop measures to provide empirical evidence of the program’s impact toward achieving your organizational objectives. The data gathered through these measurements provide empirical data by which program success can be judged. We work with your team to define:

Financial literacy programs development

Each program has data points we can measure to help us assess program impact.

Teacher leading financial literacy program

Key barometers are established to empirically measure your organizational objectives. These measures vary widely from organization to organization, but our experts help you determine the best methods of gathering data specific to your needs. This can include:

Financial Literacy Programs

We review your current philanthropic initiatives and establish measures aligned with new or expanded financial wellness programming.

Design

Programs designed by qualified experts are built with purpose. All the campaign components work together to promote financial literacy and to further your business objectives. In well-designed programs, the flow of information and built-in promotional components lead to greater overall campaign results.

Launch Preparation

During the preparation phase, your campaign director will finalize the actual training, customize promotional materials, train key stakeholders, and obtain approval from your organization. This phase will last up until the actual announcement to the end users.

Management Options & Platform

The NFEC offers various management options for those who need on or off-site support. Common services provided include program direction, data-gathering services, promotional aspect management, project grading, progress reporting, personal consultation, and other aspects our team of experts can handle for you.

Dedicated Campaign Director

Your initiative is organized and led by an experienced campaign director assigned to manage your campaign and ensure that the initiative meets stated goals. Directors are responsible for communication, managing promotions, beneficiary support, and all aspects of the campaign you would like us to manage.

Educational Mix Development & Brand Customization

Aligning educational materials and mix with the learning objectives forms a cornerstone of any financial education initiative. To start the education development process, the NFEC matches the learning outcomes from our inventory of over 400 hours of financial education assets. For those organizations with unique lesson needs, our curriculum design team will create custom resources for you.

A few options are listed below. Hybrid solutions that include pieces of all or some of these methods are most popular.

Live Presentation Resources: In-person or Webinars

The NFEC financial literacy curriculum and presentations are engaging and fun, yet also meet core educational standards. Materials are available for all ages – kids through adults. The programming has been widely recognized for its ability to connect with students and inspire participants of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds to take positive financial action.

Technology-based Learning: eLearning & Mobile Platforms

The NFEC’s technology assets leverage best practices in eLearning and vivid design to create a unique learning experience where participants start to take action toward building a sound financial foundation. Participants complete real-world activities and all aspects are measured. Flexible design accommodates a variety of schedules and learning outcomes, and provides blended learning options.

Consultations & Accountability Programs

Let experienced and highly-qualified consultants work with you. Consultants can answer specific questions or guide the learning process. For those looking for personalized lessons and accountability, this support provides the most customizable option for the individual learner.

Interactive Experiences, Contests & Gamified Learning

Including interactive experiences, challenges, and contests adds a gamification element to financial education programming that can enhance the learning experience. Although most popular with youth programming there are ways to includes this for select adult populations. From financial scavenger hunts to employee education contests and character-based events for kids – the NFEC provides options for you.

Branding Options

The NFEC offers you a variety of customized branding options to ensure that your organization’s messaging is communicated in alignment with your objectives. View the branding options below.

Presentation Material Branding

Online Learning Center Branding

Delivery Options

Your program can be delivered by our team or yours. You have access to our team of instructors, or we can train your staff to lead the education.

NFEC Delivery

NFEC Trainers, Consultants, Talent & Speakers

The NFEC provides access to a wide variety of personal finance experts and advocates. We match your organization with the education team member who best suits your needs. From workshop leaders to celebrity keynote speakers – our relationships come from a variety of backgrounds; yet they share a common passion for teaching personal finance. Having local talent gives you increased access to qualified experts.

Your Team Delivery

Educator Training for Staff-Led Training

For those organizations seeking to participate in the education, the NFEC can train your staff and provide all the tools needed to host live training events. The Certified Financial Education Instructor coursework is the gold standard to prepare individuals for teaching personal finance. This professional development training for the person(s) teaching the materials will ensure that the instructor is confident and qualified to teach the subject matter.

Final Preparation Options

Stakeholder Initiative Preparation & Compliance Approval

To ensure that all stakeholders are prepared for the financial wellness program, training is necessary. The consequences of having unprepared personnel present the materials range from poor user experience to confused messaging and frustrated stakeholders. The NFEC ensures that your team is ready and prepared to communicate the financial education programming with the end user, and are well-trained regarding the areas important to your organization’s objectives.

During this phase, the NFEC works with your compliance department to ensure that approved materials are delivered. Having served the financial industry for a decade, we have materials that will be approved. They have been reviewed by hundreds of compliance officers and FINRA, and will pass your compliance guidelines.

Marketing & Communication Resources

Successful programs include professional marketing resources and correspondences that promote the initiative, increase participation rates, and raise awareness. The NFEC provides a complete selection of marketing designs, copy, and resources that can be customized to your needs.

Program Implementation

Now that your program is designed and prepared to launch, it’s time to announce this initiative to your end users and implement the program.

During the implementation phase, we will launch the program and the actual educational components will be conducted. Throughout this process the NFEC will be gathering data and measurements needed for the post-programming phase.

Launch Options

Program launches are a great way to generate momentum and encourage participation in your financial education program. Deciding how to promote, what messaging to include, and the overall event structure are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to announcing your initiative.

The NFEC provides the resources and personnel needed to give you confidence as the event date approaches, and ensures that the event leaves participants excited about your initiative.

  • Launch events are customized to best suit the needs of your organization and the audience.
  • Formal program announcements and other methods to let your audience know about your financial education programming.
  • Media announcements and marketing efforts to attract outside parties to participate.

Post Programming

Many financial education programs simply fizzle out. The result – a program that is forgotten and makes minimal impact on participants’ financial behaviors.

The NFEC views post-programming as an excellent opportunity to acknowledge participants and provide them ongoing, action-based financial education. Data gathering and reporting is also a critical element of post-programming (if desired).

Participant & Stakeholder Recognition

Build affinity toward your program by recognizing people who participate in the campaign and highlight the program’s success. Popular options include:

  • Participant recognition options include special events, custom certificates, and built-in incentive programs.
  • NFEC-issued learner Certification options are available to organizations that meet additional requirements.
  • Initiative contributors are recognized through formal letters, awards, and public recognition.

Attendee Follow-up

The NFEC provides means to ensure that participants feel supported after the program concludes. Follow-up training resources are available that help them retain what they learned and continue to grow their personal finance skill sets.

Ongoing education series that is customized for participants. This can include topic-based wellness checkers, newsletter content, quick tip information, online learning center, and mobile application. Personal counselors and consultants can also be made available at this stage for personalized support.

Reporting & Relaunching

For those serious about getting the best results and helping others improve their financial capabilities – measurements, data gathering, and reporting are vital.

Based on the data gathered for the report, the NFEC goes back through the discover, define, and design process and makes data-driven suggestions that enhance results and user experience.

  • Participant post-event surveys, testing, longer-term behavior change measurement, and wellness checker.
  • Participant empirical indicators include data points that can be measured without participant bias. (Examples: improved credit scores, lower debt)
  • Organizational empirical indicators measure the tangible benefits associated with the initiative. (Examples: increase in retirement contribution, reduction in wage garnishments)

University of California Davis on Financial Wellness

Forbes on Financial Wellness