Without a financial plan in place, many people find themselves struggling to make ends meet. In the FINRA Foundation’s National Capability Study, 20 percent of Hoosiers said they spent more than their income over the past year (not including the purchase of a new home, car or other big investment) and 52 percent lack a rainy day fund to cover emergencies.

April is Financial Literacy Month – an opportunity to take the time to evaluate your financial wellness and take action – so you and your family don’t fall into the same situation.

But what exactly is financial wellness?

Financial wellness can be defined as follows: Financial health/wellness is achieved when an individual’s day-to-day financial system functions well and increases the likelihood of financial resiliency and opportunity.

In other words, you’re aware of your spending and saving, you’ve thought about potential emergencies and have mitigation and future plans in place, and you have trustworthy guidance that can support and guide you to make the most sound short- and longer-term financial decisions.

Who should be interested in financial wellness?

Everyone. There are many people who want to achieve financial wellness and certainly desire the peace of mind and stability that accompanies it; they simply aren’t sure and may struggle with feeling overwhelmed on how to get there.

The following statistics from the National Capability Study demonstrate that there are many Hoosiers who could readily benefit from financial wellness.

In Indiana, 26 percent of individuals reported using one or more non-bank borrowing methods (e.g. payday loans) in the past five years.

34 percent of those with credit cards paid only the minimum on their credit cards during some months in the last year.

12 percent of homeowners owe more on their home than its current market value.

27 percent of individuals reported having medical bills that are past due.

KeyBank has a long-term commitment to helping people achieve financial wellness and feel secure in their financial future. Our goal is to support everyone – across the financial spectrum – make smarter, more confident choices. Regardless of where you do private banking, there are simple steps you can take to ensure your financial wellness.

Steps to improve your financial wellness

An initial first step is to set up time to speak to your banker and/or trusted advisor; work with him or her to garner a complete picture of your financial situation – spending, investments, debt, mortgages, retirement plans, insurance, etc. – all inputs that compose your comprehensive financial picture. Collaborate on specific goals and then subsequently develop an actionable plan that will allow you to see progress and move you toward longer-term objectives.

Every conversation – at the bank branch, on the telephone or online – should be guided by insight gleaned from your financial activity so your banker can make informed recommendations.

Does focusing on financial wellness really work?

Two years after launching Key’s Financial Wellness Initiative, more than 50 percent of clients surveyed said the program has boosted their financial confidence. The survey also showed clients benefit from having regular financial wellness reviews with their personal banker. More than 80 percent of those surveyed find high value in the reviews.

These survey results confirm the value of relationship banking. High tech personal finance programs are helpful. But the key to becoming financially well is to talk to a banker who knows your personal financial goals and habits and who can draw on his or her expertise to help you find the right banking solutions.

Aaron Reitz is Central Indiana Market president at KeyBank.

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