National Savings Day is October 12th, recognizing those who value the act of saving and providing simple steps to show getting started isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Getting started typically starts with a plan, and at Envestnet | MoneyGuide, we focus on enabling you to help your clients capture the value of financial planning, defining and prioritizing their goals so that you can put them on the path towards achieving them. A significant component of achieving these goals is, of course, saving. And, saving looks different for every individual and family, especially this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic and current political climate have contributed to job losses, a lagging economy, volatile markets, and a great deal of uncertainty and fear.
At a time like this, your clients need your empathy and understanding to help them analyze what they’re facing and how they can continue to move forward toward their goals. For some clients, your advice may go back to the basics, while others may benefit from more complex strategies. Regardless, National Savings Day is an opportune time to check in and offer your guidance.
Here are seven simple topics to consider:
1. Evaluating their financial situation and lifestyle.
While you may have already taken this step with your clients, it may be time to reevaluate based on current circumstances. Touch base with your clients about their goals, current debt, and any changes to their take-home pay, all of which could impact their financial plans and ability to save. With more people staying closer to home, some of your clients may not be as spending as much, opening up the opportunity for a conversation about whether they’re willing to commit to that new spending level to increase savings or if plan to revert back to their pre-COVID spending.
2. Examining their 401k.
If your clients have had a recent pay increase, or are spending less in general, it might be a good time to discuss increasing their 401k contribution as an opportunity to save more. Some investors also neglect to take advantage of employer-matching for their 401k, so it’s worth checking in to ensure they’re getting the optimal benefit from the plan.
3. Considering credit card debt.
Tackling credit card debt to enable future savings makes sense for some clients. Some opt to pay off the lowest balance first, increasingly applying that savings to the next-lowest balance. For others, it may make sense to tackle the biggest balance first, or the one with the highest interest rate. Envestnet | MoneyGuide’s MyBlocksSM financial wellness ecosystem includes a block for credit card debt, which can help initiate the conversation.
4. Looking at their emergency savings account.
As you know, the rule of thumb for an emergency account is three-to-six months of living expenses. Now may be a good time to encourage your clients to build up or replenish those reserves. Some clients may have dipped into their savings in the past year or may need to increase their savings based on changes to their personal situations.
5. Comparing life insurance plans.
The pandemic has created a heightened desire for protection, which life insurance can provide. Cash Value Life Insurance can address a death benefit need, as well as allow for the accumulation of cash value for retirement savings. As a result of the SECURE Act eliminating the stretch IRA distribution for inherited IRAs, some investors may be looking to reduce IRA balances, which can be accomplished with permanent life insurance while using qualified distributions to pay the premiums.
6. Considering a 529.
If your clients want to save for their children or grandchildren’s educations, a 529 is a good place to start. Our 529 calculator provides the amount you need to save to fully fund college based on a few simple inputs. This often helps put the goal into context and can be a powerful conversation starter.
7. Going back to the basics with easy ways to save.
Some clients benefit from simple advice that can ultimately make a big difference. For instance, setting up automatic withdrawals from their checking to savings accounts creates predictable savings with little ongoing effort. To reduce expenses and increase savings, it may also be worthwhile for your clients to research and compare home/auto insurance or consider refinancing based on the current interest rates.
Envestnet | MoneyGuide can be a powerful aid in addressing these and many other topics related to savings with your clients. In particular, MyBlocks, a digital financial planning tool that facilitates incremental financial decisions where key financial wellness topics are broken up into bite-sized “blocks,” helps all investors focus on the goals that they consider to be the most relevant and achieve immediate feedback. It encourages them to consider their bigger financial picture, leading to critical conversations about the additional types of support you can provide to help them in their journey toward financial wellness.
The FastPath to Freedom block, for instance, creates an optimized, month-by-month action plan to balance debt paydown and emergency and retirement savings, while taking into account critical factors like time horizon, interest rates, and employer matches. FastPath also allows for the inclusion of a purchase goal or experience goal (boat, vacation, etc.) to better motivate the investor to follow through.
Proactively reaching out to your clients to stay in touch is critical to maintaining and deepening your relationships. At a time of great uncertainty, knowing that you’re focused on your clients’ goals and savings can be significant to their success. Contact your Envestnet Relationship Manager to learn more about Envestnet | MoneyGuide and MyBlocks.
The information, analysis and opinions expressed herein are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Envestnet. These views reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type.