Facing Financial Fears

Perhaps you fear your identity will be stolen or you’ll lose your job. Or it’s facing the looming questions: Have I saved enough? How do I create a budget and make it work? Here are several common fears and how to face them this Halloween:

I fear I may never get out of debt.

How to face your fear: The scariest part is identifying exactly how much debt you have and why. Once you’ve assessed your debt, devise a plan to pay off the smallest debt first. If you need some help contact our financial advisor. We’ll help you come up with a plan to get you back on track.

I fear bills and bank statements.

How to face your fear: Bills and bank statements are unavoidable, but don’t live in denial if you’ve gotten to the point of fearing bills and bank statements you’re probably overspending. Cut back don’t spend more than you make. Then build a budget and stick to it. We have tools and calculators to help you.

I fear my identity will be stolen.

How to face your fear: Be diligent. Monitor your credit reports, bank statements and transactions Sign up to receive text or email alerts from your bank or credit union if your financial institution offers this service.

I fear I haven’t saved enough for my future.

How to face your fear: It’s never too late to start! Contribute more. Pay yourself first and stick to your budget.

I fear I will lose my job someday.

How to face your fear: Prepare in advance. Establish an emergency fund and stash away at least six months of living expenses.

Remember, facing your financial fears doesn’t have to be scary. The key is to identify the cause of your fears and face them by taking action, making a plan, and being realistic about your situation.

Celebrating a Personal Investment Account anniversary

For years, you had been asking for a way to invest and/or keep your required minimum distributions at WEA Member Benefits—so we provided the Personal Investment Account (PIA) option. The PIA lets you invest your nonretirement money without using a cash account such as savings, checking, or certificates of deposit.

If you have a windfall of cash, an inheritance, proceeds from the sale of a property, required minimum distributions, or extra income you won’t need within the next five years or longer, a personal investment account might be for you. There are also tax benefits to these types of investments.

To learn more, give us a call 1-800-279-4030, or visit weabenefits.com/pia.

2018 Financial Mentor Award winners

Their comments speak for themselves:

“He meets with every new employee to discuss investment and savings plans in detail and spends a great deal of time assisting our staff with their financial questions and situations.”

“She is always helping other staff with their questions related to retirement and benefits.”

“She truly cares about the teachers in our district and helping them to make good choices. Her e-mail reminders, after school planning sessions, and personal conversations go above and beyond her call of duty.”

Congratulations to these exceptional financial advocates. You are appreciated for what you do!

Each winner was recognized in your$ magazine and will receive a personal certificate of recognition.

Don’t see your mentor on the list? 2019 Mentor nominations are now open at weabenefits.com/mentor.

How to choose a financial planner

Getting the answers to important questions up front will help you avoid surprises (the bad kind) later on.

Most people, however, don’t know what questions to ask. When you decide to start looking for advisors, you may find there are many to choose from. You can narrow down your list with some calls or emails asking a few basic questions.

What are your credentials? Designations are often listed after a planner’s name.

What exactly do you do? The term financial planner is ambiguous, so ask who their typical clients are and what their area of expertise is.

How do you get paid, and what will it cost me? Financial planners can be compensated in a number of ways.

Are you a fiduciary? Fiduciaries make a commitment to work in the best interest of the client. They cannot combine product sales with advice giving, and they must disclose how they get paid.

Once know who you’re interested in, it’s time to get more details. Both The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have developed lists of questions that you can use when interviewing candidates.

NAPFA’s consumer resources page has some great tips and tools for choosing a planner. We suggest giving a copy of the NAPFA “Tough questions to ask your advisor” questionnaire to each candidate to fill out. This will make it easy to do a side-by-side comparison and those who don’t want to fill it out can quickly be eliminated from your pool of prospects. In fact, there may be good reason they don’t want to answer some of the questions.

The SEC website provides questions to ask that are specific to investment products as well as the people who sell them. Plus, you’ll find good information about the 403(b) and what to look for when choosing a provider.

Is this you?

If you answered YES to any of the above, you may benefit from our variety of free and fee-based financial planning services that are geared for Wisconsin public school employees and their financial needs. Discounts are available for 403(b) participants and WEAC members.

(View program disclosures.)