Shut the Front Door!

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No seriously, “Shut the door! We aren’t trying to cool the whole neighborhood!” Does that sound familiar? If I had a dollar for every time Momma Bagwell yelled at me about leaving the door open, the lights on, or, by far the worst offense, standing there staring into the refrigerator with door open hoping something delicious would magically appear, I would be a very wealthy man! The point is, utilities can be expensive, yet somehow, we have decided that they are a necessity so we don’t worry about the cost. When is the last time you did a self-audit of your utility costs to see if you could save a few bucks here or there?

Chances are it has probably been awhile, but it can be a great exercise when you are trying to be a good steward of your money. Power, water, gas, cell phones, cable, internet, car and home insurance, credit cards (interest specifically) are all areas that you can review to fight for your money. Listen, it may seem trivial but finding an extra $50 per month that could be used for other goals could be huge. An extra $50 per month applied to principle on a $150,000, 30 year mortgage at 4% would allow you to pay off the house 42 months early and save $14,371.75 in interest!!! Or $50 per month put into a retirement account that averaged 8% rate of return for 30 years is over $74,000 extra for retirement!!

So audit your monthly expenses. Write down all your reoccurring expenses and what they cost you each month now. Then ask these three questions:

  • Is this expense a necessity or desire? (Note, I’m not saying they all must be necessities, I just want you to have a truth talk with yourself)
  • Is there a cheaper option of this expense that I could live with? (cough cough, cable)
  • Are there other vendors that I could get a price from that could be cheaper for the same service? (car insurance, cable/internet, credit cards)
  • Can I make an effort to keep cost low? (turn off lights, take shorter showers, adjust the thermostat)

After you have audited, reviewed, and answered these questions, write down your new totals (estimated or actual) and see how much you have won by fighting for your money.  Then make a plan for it. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT let that money magically disappear in the next month’s expenses after you have done all this work to fight for it. Increase your retirement savings, college savings for kids, or increase your monthly payment on your mortgage, but do not be unintentional about your raise. Small changes can lead to big impacts on your financial situation and puts you in control of your money.  Let me know if I can help or just motivate you to get started.

Sources: Commonwealth Financial Network’s Mortgage Payoff Calculator
Commonwealth Financial Network’s Compound Savings Calculator

Money Habits

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Think about your habits. Okay, let’s narrow it down to only your good habits. Now think back to when those habits began. How did they get started? I would guess in most cases good habits, like brushing your teeth, making your bed, and exercising, started out of accountability. When you were a kid and you did not want to brush your teeth, someone made you and sooner or later you began to understand the benefit of brushing your teeth. Suddenly, no one had to force you to brush your teeth anymore. The level of understanding that led to a willingness to do something that is good for you came after a period of resistance. A new friend of mine explained it this way when talking about his weight loss journey. He said that accountability led to success which led to a lifestyle change.

Generally, habits that are good for you may not be easy or painless to create and generally, you will want to push back against them in the beginning. That is why having accountability and an accountability partner is necessary. Eventually, you will gain an understanding about the benefits that the good habit has for you and this will lead to a lifestyle change. However, to get to that point you may need stern voice to help you out.

Money habits are no different. Budgeting, saving, giving, planning, earning, etc. can all be essential to your success with money. Yet, building those habits is not easy and in most cases you are left with no accountability. Part of our comprehensive financial planning is to give you that accountability. You will not need me to review your budget with you forever, but just like having a personal trainer to slap pizza out of my hand when I want to lose weight, sometimes you need a pal to say, “I know you’re tired and making your lunch sucks and you might not get to sit at the cool table today, but you can laugh all the way to the bank knowing that you saved $15 on something that would have only satisfied you for about 4 hours.”

Habits lead to lifestyle changes and lifestyles can either lead you to success or away from it. By not intentionally choosing good money habits are you subconsciously choosing bad ones? You may not be going bankrupt but are you really succeeding? If you struggle creating good money habits, let’s talk. I promise not to slap anything out of your hand…at first.

Knowledge is Power

Teaching people about 401(k)s has taught me many things, but above all it has taught me that education/training at work has to change!

For decades now onsite training has drifted into a check box or a CYA, pardon my acronymial language.  We have shifted from being concerned about outcomes and are now more concerned about staying in compliance.  Here are some interesting tips on how to engage your employees and deliver more impactful training.

How to Make Mandatory Trainings Bearable Infographic

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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5 Signs That Your Employees Are Financially Stressed

emp fin stressDo you think your employee’s personal financial situation matters to your company? What if I said over 1/3 of your workforce spends on-the-clock hours dealing with their personal financial situation? The reality is that financially stressed employees are less productive and less engaged at work, and that affects your bottom line. Providing financial wellness programs that address a variety of issues from debt management, college cost, and budgeting can not only help your employees become more active at work, but it can also increase loyalty as it shows them you care about them as a person not just a worker.   Take a look at the following 5 warning signs that your workforce may be financially distracted.  Do you need to implement a financial wellness program?   Are you curious just how much you could increase productivity? Contact me to discuss.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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Oh cool you have Camry?…I have a Lamborghini!

shutterstock_124609282.jpgQuestion for the audience. When did we become a society of constant one-uppery? Now it is certainly subtler than the title suggests but let’s look at a hypothetical. It goes something like this:

“Hey guess what, I had my performance evaluation and I got great feedback from my manager.”

“Yeah, those are such a waste of time. I get good remarks every time but I’m not sure they even really look at your performance.”

We have all had these and they can go a thousand different ways,. You excitedly tell friends that you got a new car and hear, “Oh me, too” or “Mine is a 2016”.   Maybe you share that you took your kids to Disney this summer only to quickly get back, “Oh that’s nice we took our family to Italy.” These one-up comments are demoralizing, infuriating, and for the most part unintentional!

I don’t think anyone starts a conversation with you looking for ways to one up you or to shut you down, but they do so out of 2 very human characteristics. 1) Our desire to hear and tell stories, and 2) personal insecurity. Self-admittedly I am terrible about this. You can ask most of the people that know me well and I have a story for just about anything and I have a really bad tendency to hear your story and then immediately want to tell you my story. If you fall into this category, STOP!!! This act, however innocent, destroys connection.

Most people will be gracious in the beginning but if this is a habit for you, it will not be long until the people around you start resenting the fact that you are stealing their thunder.

shutterstock_311648258I think this topic, which I classify as a connection issue, can be resolved by practicing intentional or active listening and becoming aware that you’re doing it in the first place. Intentional listening is an art form and one that you can practice and have to practice to master. My colleague James told me one time, “God gave me 2 ears and 1 mouth, and only one of those closes.” There is a lot of wisdom in that statement but let’s unpack the underlying meaning of what means to be an active listener the Caleb Bagwell way. *Warning, I neither confirm nor claim these are the best techniques for active listening. I just know they work for me.

  1. Stop preparing your rebuttal: I think it’s like this, when someone is talking, especially in a business situation or when meeting someone new – you are so concerned about making a good impression or sounding smart that you start preparing your response in your head after you hear the other person’s first sentence. I believe that we also have the unnecessary fear of awkward silence.   Would it be ridiculous to listen to the full statement and then take 3 seconds to formulate your response? NO. It makes sense.   Active listening means that you need to stop thinking ahead and immerse yourself in what the other party is saying. Focus and be patient.
  2. Ask questions: When someone is sharing news with you or engaging in a conversation, make a conscious effort to ask questions. This will automatically stop you from injecting your stories into their moment. It also helps you dig deeper and makes your speaker feel that you are really engaged in their story.
  3. Give them their time: Not all conversations fall into this category but when you have a coworker, friend, spouse or employee that comes to you with exciting news or a good story, say to yourself, “Not my time.” I literally have to do this to remind myself that regardless of how good my story is or even how similar, I need to let them have their time. You can tell them your story later or wait till they ask you about yours but giving people the attention they deserve without making it about you is important. It builds rapport and respect.

There are many more tricks to active listening, in fact there are entire books written about it. Another quick trick is counting how many time you say, “I” in a conversation. This one made me feel bad when I tried it, I will be honest. The point to all of it is that in a world where everyone is becoming more self-absorbed than ever, it is necessary to make sure that we caring enough about the people around us to listen intently, give them their deserved moments, and try connecting deeper with people by listening and not one upping!

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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What’s the point in winning?

shutterstock_122081617I am competitive.  There I said it and I’d like to enter that confession in the running for “Understatement of the Year”.  Recently, I have been analyzing that truth.  I have always said that I was competitive with a certain amount of pride as if it were an attribute to be sought after, but is it really?  In Hebrews 12:1 Paul says, “…Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” For most of my life I have read that verse and only focused on the word “race”.  If this life is a race, then there will clearly be a winner and then everyone else loses, right?  But what if that was not the keyword; what if the key to the statement was something else entirely.  Nowhere in Paul’s verse does he say, win the race that is marked out for us.  Friends, this where we are going to talk about the Holy 2×4.  In my life, from time to time, God decides to hit me with the Holy 2×4 to wake me up to something He has been trying to teach me that I just missed, sometimes for decades.

So why is winning so important; is competition healthy in the workplace; and how then do we balance the competition, with the pursuit of excellence, with the character of a Saint?  In reality,  I think that is what the verse is really saying.  After meditating on it for a while, I concluded the key takeaway is that you, whoever you are, are in a race; that means it has a beginning, and whether you like it or not, it has an end and our God is more concerned with how you run it than if come in first or last or in the middle. He just wants you to run to best of your “given” ability while loving thy neighbor and working as if you were working for Him.  So in the office or the warehouse or the production floor, how do we harness the competitive nature of so many of our employee and direct it, in a health way, into productivity?   Let’s take a look at a few principals that we believe will make a difference.

Principle 1: Create the Competition

I walked through a manufacturing company the other day as I was preparing to give a shutterstock_181242095presentation on the company’s 401(k).  I saw pictures on a big bulletin board for “Outstanding Employees”.  Displayed here were accolades for their “Employee of the Month”, an award for the employee who caught a mistake in shipping, another award for an employee that refined a process and made it more efficient.  Another company that we work with also highlights an accomplished employee every month and then chooses an “Employee of the Year” who gets a trip to Disney World! These companies created the competition to strategically benefit the employees and the company. This is a brilliant way to motivate and harness the competitive drive in your employees, BUT there are a couple of things that are must-haves in this principle.

  • The rules must clear and definitive: the employees must understand how you win and the variable must be trackable. If this area is vague, you risk your employees accusing the company of playing favorites.   Remember this isn’t a popularity contest.  The winner shouldn’t be the person you like the best but instead, the person who meets the quantifiable goals you set forth at the beginning of the competition.
  • Incentives must be appropriate for the effort required. If you want employees to refine a process that will ultimately save the company thousands of dollars per day and you give them a keychain and pat on the back as a reward, you should expect their effort in finding that solution to be worth about as much as your keychain.  I’m not saying buy them a new car, but know your workforce and choose an incentive that will be meaningful and big enough for them to want to compete.shutterstock_129517958

Principle 2: Build Team Competition

I know this one will not work with every company, but when possible organize all of the teams within your company to compete together. Collaboration is big desire for your millennials, but I think all ages enjoy a good strategy session on how to overcome the competition. Note: When you do this you should be very observant.  In this process you will watch your leaders emerge.  Watch how some people have the ability to align interest and influence their team to moving as one unit.  This can be very helpful in raising up management.

Principle 3: Adopt a Zero Tolerance Policy for Unsportsmanship

I don’t watch a ton of sports but I was at a minor league baseball game in Birmingham recently and one of our home team players was ejected because he took off his helmet and slammed it on the ground.  I questioned the decision and someone I was with informed me that the rule was “no tolerance because the act was dangerous and trashy”.  If you are going to harness healthy competition, the standard of excellence and sportsmanship can never be in question.  If you cheat, you’re done.  If you lie, you’re done.  If you sabotage someone, you’re done. Zero tolerance and swift consequences are necessary, but so are swift praise and good rewards.

Competition can be a great driver but the truth is you, your team, and your company have to know why it’s worth winning. The principles above are important for the process but don’t forget to show employees why you’re competing in the first place.  What difference are you trying to make in the company or even in the community? You have to show people that the race is worth running and then you can guide them through competition to make a difference.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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Millennials in Manufacturing

Attracting Millennials is probably the easy part of this equation, after all we are all looking a job, or at least our parents hope we are. Finding the ones with the talent you need, that will stick around and then engaging them to point of productivity is what takes a bit of finesse. Millennials are the largest and most misunderstood generation and we have seen first-hand the challenges that can arise when trying to connect with this new breed. Focusing on manufacturing, industrial, and construction related businesses, we have seen the challenges that these companies face when it comes getting good talent and keeping it, especially when it comes to the newer generation.   We have identified 12 steps that will help your company get on the right path when it comes to getting the most out of your Millennials.

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calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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Financial Wellness for Your Employees

Employee Financial WellnessFinancial Wellness has come into focus recently as employers have been exposed to the negative side effect of fiscally unhealthy employees. We have seen health and wellness programs around for decades doing such things as giving out pedometers to employees to encourage them to take more steps, offering desks that you can stand at, and even offering discounted gym memberships. Those are all great strategies to improve physical wellness but the burden of financial stress on employees and what that does to their productivity has largely been overlooked.

shutterstock_129454907Financial Wellness is a term used to describe and answer to a cry for help. For many years, companies and financial advising firms have been focused on retirement readiness, but people were trying to tell us we cannot begin to prepare for retirement if we can’t keep our heads above water today! Unfortunately, for a long time those cries fell on deaf ears as the industry went through a period of “plan design tactics” where they would automatic enroll people in their 401(k) plan and even increase their contribution every year automatically. Both auto-enrollment and auto-escalating contribution are usually great ideas but this did not address the real problem or get to the heart of the participant’s pain today.

Financial Wellness programs, at least the good ones, should be focused on educating and encouraging employees to gain financial freedom through processes that are easily implemented and offer some form of personal accountability.   The benefits not only for the employee but also for their employer are staggering. When employers implement these sort of personal finance education, it sends a clear message to the employees:

“You are valuable, you deserve financial freedom, and
we care about your ability to retire successfully. “

For more information on employee education programs including personal financial wellness topics for your employees, contact me. 

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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Leadership Vocabulary

Increase productivity and employee engagement TODAY by integrating these phrases into your daily vocabulary.   Leaders have to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk“.  Make sure you are talking the right talk.

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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The 4 Generations of Employees Who Work for You

The 4 Generations of Employees Who

Work for You
and How to Communicate with Them

4 gen

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

Follow Caleb’s Blog