Give back to your community. It’s good for your financial well-being.

I have long tried to follow in my father’s footsteps by trying to be a good role model for my children. When my children were young, I served on various nonprofit boards including Swampscott Little League, Lynn Youth Hockey, Project SAVE Armenian Archives, and the Jewish Journal of the North Shore to name but a few. I wanted to show my children in both word and deed that it was important to give back to your community – to serve others.

Now that my children are young adults, and mostly out of house, I continue to volunteer for boards where I think I can make a meaningful contribution. In my town, for instance, I served on a committee that developed a 10-year master plan. Among other things, we learned that my town is expected to see continued growth in its older population. By 2030, for instance, the 60+ population will comprise more than one-third of the population, up from 25% in 2010.

And that finding led to my becoming a town meeting member as well as a board member of my town’s Council on Aging/Senior Center. In that role, and in my professional life, I learned more about the need for towns and cities across the U.S. and around the world to become age-friendly. Read here and here for more.

As part of my effort to make my town age-friendly, I asked the Center for Social & Demographic Research in Aging, Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston to conduct a needs assessment that would ultimately provide us with a roadmap to making the town age-friendly. By way of background, both Boston and Salem Mass. recently released age-friendly reports and the Governor of Massachusetts recently stated the following in his State of the Commonwealth Address:

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“Last spring, I appointed a Council to address aging.  With a goal of making Massachusetts the most age-friendly state in the nation.  The council has provided a platform to think beyond public programs and to draw on expertise in technology, health care, business and innovation.”

“We’re pleased to announce that AARP has formally designated Massachusetts as one of only two age-friendly states in the country.”

“We’ll also be increasing state support for the Councils on Aging in our 2019 budget to the highest level ever.”

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At the moment, I am trying to raise the funds to have UMass Boston conduct the needs assessment and I’m not sure exactly when the study will be conducted or when Swampscott will be identified as an age-friendly community. But I am confident that it will happen.

So, what does all this have to do with financial wellness?

Well, a new nationwide poll released in February by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company concludes that Americans who are involved in various communities not only find it personally gratifying, but financially rewarding as well. Forty-eight percent agree that community participation improves their finances, and nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) say community involvement is important to their overall well-being.

This new body of research – You Get What You Give: The MassMutual 2018 Financial Wellness and Community Involvement Study – examines the intersection of community participation and financial well-being and strongly demonstrates that community involvement strengthens confidence in financial security.

My advice given the results of this study: Get involved in your community. It’s good for your financial health and well-being. Also visit Get What You Give for tangible tips for those interested in becoming more involved in their community, as well as educational materials and tools to explore ways to build financial security. Read Get What You Give and Get What You Give Research Report.

Senate Aging Committee Examines Critical Decisions Facing Americans Turning 65

One last thing. The Senate Aging Committee recently examined the critical decisions facing Americans turning 65. Be sure to read the remarks of Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) Bob Casey (D-PA) and watch the hearing.

Over the transom

Here’s a look at some recent reports published about financial wellness that have caught my eye.

  • To help employees turn their finances from a source of stress into long-term success, Securian Financial Group has launched Financial Wellness 360™—a multi-faceted financial wellness program designed to inspire, educate and encourage employees to make lasting financial behavior changes.
  • Plansponsor magazine examines in the video financial wellness trends.
  • Recent research from Aite Group that reveals which consumers want financial wellness tools and how much they’re willing to pay for them and what consumers think about virtual financial wellness coaches.
  • How to Move 401k Financial Wellness from Idea to Execution
  • After the tax cut, which employee perks are best?
  • According to a recent study commissioned by Transamerica (Communicating on Wealth and Health, Deloitte Consulting, LLP 2017), the majority of respondents (adults ages 40-65 with an annual household income of at least $50,000) perceive a viable connection between Wealth + Health. The study offers detailed correlations, including:
    • People who have at least $300,000 saved for retirement by age 55 are 41% more likely to take at least 8,000 steps in a typical day.
    • People who use fraud alerts on their credit cards or other financial accounts are nearly twice as likely to regularly participate in moderate to high intensity group exercise classes (such as spinning).
    • People who have at least $1,000 saved in an emergency fund are 46% less likely to often feel it is difficult to focus or concentrate.
  • After its Financial Stress Survey found that 66% of respondents suffering moderate to extreme stress blamed it on their finances, John Hancock Retirement Plan Services created a new financial wellness tool to de-stress and engage plan participants.
  • The Financial Engines (FE) advisory service offering, on the ADP platform, will launch in the summer of 2018. The deal expands FE’s reach to thousands of small and mid-sized firms and broadens ADP’s financial wellness capabilities, the two firms said.
  • Nearly half (48%) of Millennials with a 401(k) contribute 10% or more on a monthly basis—which is the highest percentage of any other generation (only 36% of Gen Xers and 44% of boomers reported the same), according to the Generations Ahead Study from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America. Nearly six in 10 believe saving for retirement is a basic necessity, like food or housing. However, financial traumas witnessed by Millennials could have a negative effect on their financial wellness and willingness to take risk. Read more
  • This Is the Year Financial Wellness Solutions Should Be Accessible to All
  • Put More Money in Your Pocket in 2018 with a Basic Employee Benefit Checkup
  • As part of the Monitor research services, Corporate Insight analysts use live accounts at each healthcare and financial institution covered, identifying customer-centric improvements and trends in real time. The following is a summary of the most notable trends from 2017:
    • Wellness programs began to take shape at an institutional level across industries.
    • Wellness became a major cross-industry focus in 2017. For example, three Healthcare Monitor firms launched new health and wellness campaigns in 2017—UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Aetna—that gamify and reward healthy behaviors.
    • Since financial health is an important aspect of overall wellness, record keepers continued to intensity their focus on promoting financially savvy decisions. Eleven Retirement Plan Monitor coverage firms added new financial wellness resources in 2017, including interactive lessons, webinars, videos, worksheets and an online game.
  • Digital personalization is the next big trend in retirement planning, according toFortune 500 retirement company Voya Financial. The fuel behind it – behavioral finance (BeFi) research.
  • Video: Financial Wellness in Retirement
  • Employers have done some work around financial wellness, but largely in the form of one-off lunch-and-learn sessions, webinars and guest speakers that don’t have the desired long-term effect on employees. Read more
  • January was Financial Wellness Month. Guest blogger Sherman Gifford talks about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) toolkit, Your Money, Your Goals. Read Money Mondays
  • Callan LLC recently announced the results of its2018 Defined Contribution (DC) Trends Survey, offering actionable insights for plan sponsors, consultants, and asset managers. One key finding:
    • Plan sponsors rate retirement readiness as their primary area of focus, but financial wellness will be a key area of communication focus.
    • Lori Lucas, executive vice president of Fund Sponsor Consulting and head of the Defined Contributions Practice at Callan, said “The message here is that employers are looking not just at retirement income adequacy, but employees’ overall financial security.”
  • Although the stock market continues to rise and the U.S. economy is healthy, most employees who are stressed about personal finances report that their stress levels have increased over the past year, according to Purchasing Power. The firm suggests financial wellness benefits in the workplace should take more priority and become more comprehensive in 2018. Purchasing Power’s Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Halkos offers predictions for workplace financial benefits in 2018. Read more.