Episode 38: The Pursuit of Financial Freedom

We don’t always think about finances when we think about our overall wellness, but they're a very important component. Will Sneed, incoming Managing Director of the DHG Wealth Advisors Group and 30-year veteran of the investment industry, joins us in this podcast in honor of Financial Literacy Month to share tips on finding financial freedom.

Episode 38 Transcript

Will Sneed portraitAGH: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of our DHG Podcast series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I love this venue because we get to hear from our people about the things that matter the most to them; flexibility, careers, and of course, our people. In honor of Financial Literacy Month, Will Sneed, who’s the incoming Managing Director of DHG’s Wealth Advisers Group, is joining us to talk about financial wellness. We don’t always think about finances when we think about overall wellness, but it’s a very, very important part of our overall wellness. Will is a 30-year veteran of the investment industry and is very passionate about this area. Welcome, Will.

WS: Thank you so much, Alice Grey.

AGH: As I mentioned earlier, when we think about wellness, we don’t typically think about finances. I think about what I eat, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, exercise, but I don’t really think about my checkbook. A lot of people don’t think about it. As a matter of fact, Effin, our Chief People Officer, just shared with me that Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trend Study showed that the average employee spends 13 hours a month worrying about personal financial matters while they are at work. That is 13 hours of productive time that they are worrying about finances. To me, that’s completely unbelievable. Really, it’s one of the reasons why we consider financial wellness a major component of DHG Impact, which is how we care for our people in our communities. Will, can you explain to us how financial wellness can impact overall wellness?

WS: Alice Grey, I think that’s a great intro in agreeing with Effin. I just wrote an article just this week that talked about that it could be as much 4.5 hours per week. It could be close to 20 or 25 hours a month that people are worried about their finances. There was an American Institute of Psychologist study that was just done recently. This showed that the number one source of stress is finances. If you think about it, if we’re stressed in our finances, think about your own life. It affects every area of your life. Finances touch everything; it touches your relationships and at work. It touches your relationships at home. It just impacts everything. If you’ve got that stress factor built up, it dramatically takes a toll on your health and your well-being, everything. The study shows that people that are under stress, whether it be from finances, from health issues, from anything, that dramatically has an impact on our health, and it could be from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, not taking care of ourselves, not getting enough sleep. It’s a powerful impact. You think about how that impacts our relationships at work. If somebody says, “Hey, let’s go get a lunch together,” and all of a sudden your mind says, “Oh my gosh! I don’t have enough money to do that,” and you feel guilty going, “I can’t,” or you go the other way and you put it on a credit card and it becomes a compounding effect. It’s an amazing area that impacts every one of us, every one of us.

AGH: Yeah, it absolutely does. I’m just laughing thinking about my own financial wellness and how I hide bags in my gym bag to go in the house.

WS: There you go. I’ve had conversations with people this week where the wife — He went out and looked in his wife’s car, because he said, “Honey, didn’t you just go to Target?” She said, “Yeah, I just had to swing by.” He went and looked in her car and there were four more bags.

AGH: I know. It’s true.

WS: Again, it’s just a cycle and it impacts every area of our lives.

AGH: It really does. I know that in talking to Sarah Hemmings and Effin both regarding Energy for Life, they both said, “Hey, Will raised his hand and said, “” Energy for Life really touches mind, body, spirit, emotions, but what we’re leaving out is this whole financial part. Can you talk about how this area of wellness can impact our energy management?

WS: I’m so glad we’re talking about the negative side of the stress and we all have felt that at some point in our lives — If there’s anybody who’s dealt stress or was — I raised five kids. That’s a lot of stress to educate five kids and put them through college and everything else. We feel the financial stress, all of us do. If you’ve got a plan in place and you’ve got your finances in order, it has the opposite effect, and it creates financial freedom, and it creates financial energy, and that energy effects your mind, your body, your spirit, your emotions. It has an uplifting effect. I think that all of us need to have some kind of plan where we’re thinking in those quadrants of, “Where am I spending the money? Where am I in saving my money? Where am I spreading my money?” Spreading and giving — anytime you get into that concept of giving, you immediately think of big gifts. What if you’ve got the financial freedom to buy somebody’s lunch that you know needs that help right now, or you see somebody who’s in need of just something small, and you met that small need of picking up a shirt for somebody. Just something simple, but you live a life being a giver instead of always being concerned about, “Do I have enough?”

AGH: Yeah.

WS: When you can create that energy in your life — anybody that knows me, knows I’ve been through Energy for Life twice, and so I’m certainly passionate about that area. I think the financial flexibility, the financial freedom can just explode through Energy for Life. I think it fits hand and glove, what Effin and Sarah are trying to create there.

AGH: I couldn’t agree more. I love the term financial freedom, because it is. It’s almost like the burden has been lifted off your shoulder, off your heart, so that you can do the things that you want to do in life.

WS: You’re right. Absolutely.

AGH: Really, that’s what Energy for Life is about, it’s about having the energy to do the things in life that are most important. For our listeners, give us one thing, or things, whatever, that someone can begin doing today to move towards financial freedom.

WS: Great, I’m glad you asked two things, because I would say the first thing is have a plan. In every one of us, wherever you are — I would say this to anybody. I had this conversation with a client, I guess, over the weekend. He actually called me over the weekend and he’s stressing about his finances and he’s scared that he started way too late. He was in tears over the phone with me. I said, “Steve, you’ve got to stop beating yourself up about the past. We can’t fix the past. We just got to start right here where we are today. Let’s develop a plan of action right here where we are today.” To set that plan of action and emotion, and if you have a plan, again, it brings up financial flexibility, it brings up financial freedom. If you and your spouse can sit down and you know, “This is the plan.” It gives you something to run on. It gives you some guidelines that you can run on. I’m telling you, that’s a dramatic thing, each one of us needs to have a plan. Then, I would say the second one is very, very, very simple, and it is live in your means. If there’s a message that I’ve been preaching for 35 years in this business it’s live within your means. I’ve said for years I think half of America is probably a flat tire away from financial crisis. We live paycheck to paycheck and we’ve got to get to the point where we’re saving, we know how much we’re spending, we’ve got a savings plan and how much we can spread, how much we can give.

AGH: That’s great advice. I remember, when I graduated from college, my dad gave me that advice to always try to live within my means. Goodness gracious! That was really hard back when I had just graduated from college, but I’ve always thought about it. Thank you for that reminder, and for everyone else —

WS: I’ll share this, Alice Grey. This is a great story. I have a client named Gordon Douglas who is a CPA here in Greenville, and they developed out a plan of action where the guy — He calls it his 10-50-40 plan of action. He sets it up 10% to give, 50% to live on, 40% for savings. That’s what he does, and he sticks to it. That 40% that he’s saving can be invested. We meet once a year and we sit down and we say, “Okay. What are we going to do with the 40%.” He’s paying down his house. He’s saving for his kid’s college education, and he’s investing for retirement, but he’s living within his means. He’s backing off. Too many of us get caught up in this world of — this rat race that I’ve got to keep up with the Joneses.

AGH: Yes.

WS: Let me tell you, the Joneses don’t care. Comparison to others is the great thief of joy, and it’s the great thief of that energy that we’re all after. Live within our means.

AGH: If I were trying to lose weight, it would be easy to go online and find a million diet plans, from the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers. If I wanted to find some online resources to help me begin my plan, what would you recommend? What’s a good starting point?

WS: Great. There are some great resources out there. I met with a young associate Raleigh, it was yesterday, and showed him That’s a great financial calculator’s website. Any kind of calculator you’d ever want to dream of is on that. That’s a free website. That’s a really good one to go on and play around with. I’ll tell you, our 401(k) Vanguard site is a fantastic site to visit. There are tremendous videos — I think there are maybe some podcasts on there, financial papers, white papers, different resources, different calculators that you can get right there on the Vanguard site. As you mentioned, working with Amy Manning who’s an adviser in Charlotte, Suzanne Holbert, who’s an advisor out in Asheville and Hendersonville and they’re working Sarah Hemmings and Effin. We’ve put together a financial well-being toolkit. That financial well-being toolkit will soon be up on Compass. I’m telling you, I’m super excited about being a part of that financial wellness posture in our firm. I think it’s something that’s going to transform our firm.

AGH: I think it’s fabulous, and I wish that when I were younger in my career I had had those types of tools and resources to guide me. I think it’s amazing.

WS: I will add one thing. One of the studies that I read this week is that American Psychological Association study that one of the greatest things that we can do is find somebody to talk to and just have a friend that you can talk with, and that can be an financial advisor, but it can be anybody. The key is don’t feel like you’re out there on an island by yourself and that you’re the only person going through things. Our younger people are stressed because of college debt. Those of us closing in towards retirement age, we’re stressed because we’re wondering about; do we have enough income? Going back to what you’ve already pointed out, if we can have a plan of action and have somebody to talk with about it, that’s the key to developing that energy that you’re looking for in this area instead of the stressing that brings you down.

AGH: I love hearing your passion. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Will.

WS: It’s been my pleasure. I think you do a great job with this, and super excited about what this is going to do for the firm.

AGH: Thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you’ll tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about Life Beyond Numbers. Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.

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