Motivated to wear technology?

I have been shopping for the perfect smart watch for several years now. I wanted a watch that I could wear while riding my road bike, one that would track my speed and heart rate and distance and whatever else such watches do.

But alas I never found the perfect one at the right price point.

Fast forward to December and what did my wife give me for my birthday? A wearable technology watch. Thankful (in some ways) I start wearing the watch on December 11 and I log only 7,713 steps on that day. To be sure, I appreciated the reminders to get up every hour or so and walk some more steps to meet my hourly goal. But for the month, I only hit the daily goal of 10,000 steps just three times.

I also looked forward to wearing the watch at night to learn more about my sleep patterns. I wear the watch for eight evenings and learn that I don’t seem to spend enough hours in the REM and deep sleep stages and then I seem to spend far too many hours in the awake and light sleep stages. I google how to change my sleep changes and then decide to stop wearing the watch at night.

In fact, I stop wearing the watch after a couple weeks because I’m seemingly not motivated enough to hit 10,000 steps a day and I am seemingly unable to change my sleep patterns.

Fast forward to mid-January and I’m getting ready to go to New York City for a business trip. My wife suggests that I wear the watch so that I can keep track of my steps while there. Reluctantly, I agree to wear it. But first, I have to charge it.

So, why am I so unwilling to wear the watch?

I think back to an article I wrote back in August of 2008 for MarketWatch in which I quoted Carol Berning, a consumer psychologist who at the time had just retired from Procter & Gamble. Berning was, among other things, famous for her work on getting people to make a habit of using Febreze.

In the article, I pondered whether we could cue the savings habit and break the spending/credit card use habit. According to Berning, one important principle of habit formation is this: The benefits must be relevant and important. “People won’t wash their hands if they don’t understand why it’s important,” she said.

And the same is true of saving. “If they understood the benefit of doing it, they would have no trouble starting it,” she said.

And so I think the same is true of my wearing the watch. In order to form the habit of wearing the watch and walking 10,000 steps each and every day, I need to understand why it’s important, I need to understand the benefit of doing it.

I might also need some financial incentives to modify my behavior. I just might need to see the cost savings in my current health care costs and I just might need to invest that savings toward my retirement, which could last many years if I remain healthy and fit and motivated.

Over the transom

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

Top 8 money mistakes to avoid in 2018

Chris Whitlow, CEO of financial wellness benefits provider, Edukate, says the top money faux pas he sees is not having an emergency fund. “60% of Americans don’t have enough money in savings to cover an unexpected $500 expense. Expect the unexpected and budget for it. A simple way to achieve this is to set up an automatic withdrawal of $10 per week. Over the course of a year, you’ll save $520 and not become part of that statistic,” Whitlow says.

Here’s a list of the top 8 money mistakes to avoid in 2018, according to Edukate.

1. Not having an emergency fund
Set up an automatic withdrawal every paycheck to start building up your emergency fund.

2. Not maxing out your retirement plans
Once your debts are cleared and your emergency fund is full, what’s next? There’s no arguing the 401(k) is a great way to fund your long-term savings, especially if you aren’t one of the lucky people to have a pension. Consider the tax advantages of maxing out both traditional and Roth 401(k)/403(b) contributions before you start saving elsewhere.  For the rest, click here.

4 Financial Paths To Enhance Employee Mental Wellbeing

Last year, 2017, was the year of employee wellness, with more company leaders embracing the concept in pursuit of higher levels of productivity, staff retention and increased profits. However, while physical and mental wellbeingare becoming a key business focus, financial wellness should also be a priority.

Recent CIPD research revealed one in four workers believe money worries have affected their ability to do their job. One in ten say they found it hard to concentrate or make decisions at work and 19 percent lost sleep worrying about money.

Considering such findings, it’s clear money worries may be costing your employees more than just interest. It’s fundamental employers provide support for those whose financial insecurity is impacting their health and workplace performance. So how can businesses implement employee financial wellness effectively into their business and HR strategies? Click here to read more.

Retirement and financial well-being

On December 14, 2017, experts gathered at EBRI’s 82nd Policy Forum to examine retirement security topics with a special focus on overall financial wellbeing. Presenters addressed issues such as how sufficiently have Americans saved for retirement, the best ways to address financial difficulties, and the relationships among short- and long-term financial needs and savings options. EBRI summarizes each presentation and provide links the Forum’s replay, presentation decks, and other resources. Read EBRI Policy Forum #82 – Retirement and Financial Wellbeing.

Employees Want More Than Education on Retirement Savings

Alight Solutions’ 2017 Financial Mindset Study and the 2018 Hot Topics in Retirement & Financial Well being reports find distinctions with what workers and employers believe are integral in financial education, and what both groups consider vital past the spectrum of retirement savings and insurance services. Read more here.

The Elusive ROI of Financial Wellness Efforts

Estimates for the return-on-investment from financial wellness programs vary. One source puts the savings at $50 per employee per year for every incremental (1 to 10) increase in average financial fitness. Another says programs return $3 for every $1 invested. Read more here.

Alight Solutions finds workers and employers don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to navigating some financial issues

Even as employers continue to expand their financial wellbeing programs, two reports from Alight Solutions, a leader in technology-enabled health, wealth, HR and finance solutions, find that there may be a disconnect between the financial help workers believe their employer should provide and the help employers think they should provide when it comes to areas beyond basic retirement savings and insurance services.

According to Alight Solutions’ 2017 Financial Mindset® Study and the 2018 Hot Topics in Retirement & Financial Wellbeing report, workers consistently said they want more help across a variety of financial topics than employers believe they should offer.

Financial stress can have a major impact on employees, from greater health concerns to trouble with relationships and distractions at work. This same stress can also influence a company’s well-being, including potentially higher costs due to elevated healthcare plan use, lost productivity from distractions/ absenteeism, and lower savings for retirement or medical expenses. This special report, based on the results of our 2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, delves into data around stress and its impact on the financial well-being of both the employee and employer. Read Special Report: Financial stress and the bottom line.