If you're looking to achieve long-term financial wellness, you need to make sure all four of its key components are in check! In this episode of Money Talk With Tiff, expert guest Steven M. Hughes discusses each one and provides helpful tips for getting on track. Don't miss it!
About Our Guest
Steven M. Hughes is a Financial Therapist, Reiki Master Teacher, and professional speaker who helps 1-on-1 clients and corporate teams move their finances–and lives–forward. He has served as a financial expert for Google, Airbnb, Tiffany & Co., and more to help audiences reduce their stress around money and achieve lasting financial wellness. Steven is also the founder of the non-profit Know Money, which exists to help Black college students avoid financial pitfalls and build healthy money mindsets and behaviors.
Connect With Steven
- Steven M. Hughes and Tiffany discussed the four components of financial wellness: Awareness, Education, Action, and Mindfulness.
- Awareness is being in the right frame of mind to make conscious decisions about money.
- Education is a greater understanding of financial concepts beyond the basics, such as budgeting and savings. It includes more complex topics like insurance, estate planning, investment strategies, etc.
- Action involves taking steps to improve one's own financial situation through research or professional guidance; it is considered the most critical step in financial wellness by the speaker.
- Mindfulness is an understanding that our emotions are intertwined with money matters; it contributes to overall well-being and should be considered when making decisions about finances.
[00:00:00] Intro/Outro: You know what it is. That's right. It's time to talk money with your money nerd and financial coach. Now tighten those purse strings and open those ears. It's the Money Talk with Tiff podcast.
[00:00:15] Tiffany Grant: Hey everyone, I am so excited because I have Steven M. Hughes on the line now. Me and Steven. For a little bit. Um, and we've been trying to work on getting this episode out for the longest. I'm, I'm glad that we are finally able to make it happen. So, Hey Steve, how are
[00:00:31] Steven Hughes: you? Hey, I'm doing well. We are finally kicking this thing off.
[00:00:35] Tiffany Grant: Yes, yes. And I'm so excited about the topic. We'll, we'll be talking about because it's the four components of financial wellness. Now, if people follow me, they know I'm all about financial wellness and that's why me and Steve nerd out on this stuff. So much. Um, so let's just hop right in. So first of all, what is financial wellness?
I think we should just
[00:00:55] Steven Hughes: start there. Yeah. Financial wellness or some people will say financial health is the process of thinking, talking and behaving differently with money and taking, uh, you know, our mindfulness practices that are included in clinical psychology and what's called financial psychology now in behavioral finance and helping people get down that road.
[00:01:19] Tiffany Grant: Awesome, awesome. So now that we have a baseline of what financial wellness is, what are your four components of financial wellness?
[00:01:28] Steven Hughes: So before I jump into that, one thing that I'll mention is that when I really first started in my career in financial education, I really focused on financial literacy.
And for a lot of people, As financial wellness is becoming a buzzword like financial literacy was years ago, people are just changing their financial literacy platforms to say that they are financial wellness platforms, which is wild to me. It should be wild to everyone, uh, because, you know, financial literacy is important and it's a part of financial wellness, but it's not fully encompassed of everything that financial wellness is.
And so, yeah, we can take it from the top. In regards of financial wellness, there is a four. Legged table, and each of those legs are important to really make sure you have a foundation of financial wellness and you're getting the things you need to be financially healthy. And so the first thing is awareness.
The second is education, which fits right into financial literacy. The third is action, and the fourth one is mindfulness. And we can break each of those down if you want.
[00:02:34] Tiffany Grant: Yes, please. So let's start off with number one. So let's start off with awareness, because I feel like that's probably where people need to start.
So when we say awareness, what are we talking about and what do people need to think about?
[00:02:46] Steven Hughes: When we're talking about awareness, we are talking about people being in the position to even. Think about their money differently to even decide like, I want to do something different with how I'm currently managing my money or how things are going for me right now.
And so for a lot of people, uh, like when, when I was younger, making every money misstep possible, I wasn't aware of like what was the next thing that I could do, you know, after seven max credit cards, overdraft fees, to the point that closed all of my bank accounts. Repossessions and eviction. It wasn't until I reached financial rock bottom where I said, oh, I should do something different.
But the things that were getting me there, there wasn't a a point where I said, ah, I should stop. And so to have the awareness in your financial position, it doesn't have to get as bad as mine did years and years ago, but to have the awareness to say that I would like to do something different, there's something that I would like to change.
And taking steps to. Change that. That's really where the awareness is. And so to build that awareness, we have people like me. I, when I was younger, making these money missteps, uh, I was very money avoidant. , I didn't want to talk about money. If there were bill collectors calling me, this is, you know, before the spam risk caller joints that you have on your phone now.
But, um, when people were calling me, I just wouldn't answer or I'd throw the bills in the trash. And so, you know, when you're in that position and. Maybe you're a living paycheck to paycheck and you're doing the things you need to do to survive financially. Uh, really it's, it's hard to see that awareness or to build that awareness.
And for a lot of people, they may not be in a position to be aware of the things they want and need to do until they're out of financial crisis, until they're not living paycheck to paycheck, until they move away from an emergency situation. And so that's one thing that I want people to acknowledge as well, that you don't just jump out the box with this awareness or just.
Read a book and say, oh, this is it, this is the fix. But it may take some time and some resources that are both internal and external, like talking to somebody that can help you become more aware of where you want to go.
[00:04:56] Tiffany Grant: Yes, I completely agree with that because I know, um, when I started out on my like debt free journey, right?
it was, it was sparked, like I had all of the background knowledge, but I wasn't putting anything into implementation. I wasn't acting on any of it until I was de denied for my very first credit card. And I was like, and all I was asking for was like $200. So I'm like, dang, like I'm not even worthy of $200.
Like, let me figure out what's going on here. And so that's when I started, you know, paying more attention. And now even as a counselor, you know, people typically come to me once. Things are awry, like once things are hitting the fan, and you know, sometimes even in tears. That's usually when people come to me and, and it's hard to think.
It's very, very hard to think strategically when you're in that type of situation. So I completely agree with everything that you said. So now we have the awareness down. Let's talk about the education part, because I feel like that
[00:05:55] Steven Hughes: comes next, right? Yeah. And that's the part that most people are familiar.
Like, there's so many people who are about these blogs, these books, these podcasts, uh, the different things that you and I engage with every single day that are really specifically focused on getting someone financially educated. And some of them start with the basics, like, uh, budgeting. For creating a spending plan, saving, eliminating debt, repairing or managing your credit investing basics.
But then there is like a real, a really big space right now in financial education to help people like move past the places of. The tools you need to get out of poverty. So like some of the basics, those things cover the basics, but when you get to a point where you have the basics covered, like you're managing your money, you're saving, you're investing, what are the other things that you need to make sure that you do?
Are you tightened up on the insurance things that you need in regards of your family for protection, uh, or for your business? Um, do you have. A plan when it comes to estate planning, do you have beneficiaries, uh, selected? Do these different things that happen like, and that people may not even tell you, tell you about?
And then when it comes to investing, are you, do you need to get more educated in a place that is, uh, more passive if you have like financial independence goals when it comes to building a business or. Building your income outside of your full-time job or outside of your primary source of income for all the entrepreneurs out there.
And so financial education is a huge part in financial wellness. Uh, but a lot of what we're seeing now needs to move past the basics. Mm mm
[00:07:41] Tiffany Grant: Yes. And I'm like, are you speaking to me? No, I was kidding. . No, I'm teasing it. . No. Um, because, you know, we, I actually, I just had this conversation, um, with, uh, with some other content creators and we were talking about financial literacy and financial education and things like that.
And you're right, like there's usually like people that focus on. the basics like I do, and then it just skips to like all the people that are specialized in different things, , like, you know, whether it is, um, options or short-term rentals or long-term, you know, whatever. And so it's like boom and then a big jump, a leap into whatever the specialization is.
And so I completely get that, uh, and that's a really good point. So with that being said, If somebody's listening and they're like, you know what? I got the basics. I'm good on that. What is my next step? What else do I need to pay attention to? So now I'm at the point where I have my awareness, I have my basic financial education and you know, maybe my specialty or whatever I decide to focus on.
[00:08:51] Steven Hughes: So the next thing is action. So if you are aware of your financial situation, if you know that, oh, I need to get more information or education about this, and you've gotten that, then now it's time to take the steps and act on it. And for, for some people, action may look like doing research.
Action may look, that may be the very next step that you take action may look like you opening a new account and funding it, whether it's a, a checking account, a savings account, an investment account, um, just the fact that you're opening a new account and you're starting something fresh with a specific goal or a specific, uh, task for this top money priority that you have.
Like these are some actions that you'll see people take. And then even when we're talking about action, In regards to financial wellness, some of these actions will be taken because you have some help. You've got somebody kind of, uh, guiding you through the process or even kind of nudging you along as needed.
Um, when it comes to like using a, working with a financial coach or, uh, maybe you need someone to show you what the. The process or plan is gonna look like, and you're working with a financial planner. And so, uh, in the action phase, like there's so many different people that can come in, um, in regards of who you're gonna be working with.
So you can take the steps that you need to take. Uh, but this is my favorite, my favorite step, you know, or my favorite place in financial wellness because, you know, I live my life by three words and it's action cures all. And I really, I, I know that when it comes to learning something new, Just like you mentioned, like you knew all these different things you could do with money, but when it comes to applying it, it's.
A totally different education. And so it's on top of the education that you got when it came, when it comes to studying or even, uh, following someone in regards of what they're doing. And so action is, is paramount when it comes to financial wellness. .
[00:10:49] Tiffany Grant: Yes, I completely agree. And just another example of action, um,
So I went to the library yesterday and when I was at the library, I saw a book on Will's trust and estates. And I said, you know what? This is something that I need to further educate myself in, um, before I make, you know, all these moves. Because after my grandma died, I realized, you know how. That landscape looks and where I had knowledge gaps, right?
So I didn't like, there's a lot of stuff I know about estate planning, but after somebody passes away that's close, close to you and you have to go through the process of like actually going through the funeral home. You know, finding paperwork, all that stuff. I'm like, dang, like there's stuff I do not know
And so I was like, you know what, I'm gonna go to the library and I'm gonna find a book on this. And lo and behold, I did. So that was my action step, was to get more education like you were saying. And I feel like if I can fill those knowledge gaps, then. when I, it comes time. Cause I need to update mine.
I'm just be real, um, when it comes time to do updates and stuff, I know more strategies than what I did before. And so, exactly . So it's like, you know, your action could look a lot different. I know over the summer. . I was like, you know, I wanna do more dividend stocks. So guess what? There's a whole dividend Twitter community and everybody had all their suggestions.
Now, I will say tr caution when you're looking at social media advice. Right? Of course. But you know, I was taking everybody's little pieces of advice, making my own sheet to research, you know, that type of thing. And I started dividend investing. There it is. So it's like you never know. where you'll find your tribe or the people to help you do whatever it is that you wanna do.
But like you said, you gotta make some action. You gotta put it out there and you know, let people know what you're trying to do or get help if needed, or just pick up the extra knowledge. So definitely agree with you there. And then you add on a fourth component. Which I thought was very, very, very, very interesting, but so important.
So what is the fourth component of financial wellness?
[00:13:02] Steven Hughes: So the fourth component is mindfulness, and when I'm talking about mindfulness, just so that we're all on the same page. , I'm talking about people being in a place where they're not getting stressed or anxious about their financial decisions or situations that seeing an unexpected expense pop up on them, doesn't send them, you know, into the spiraling place or a place where, um, they're not themselves and.
Mindfulness looks different for a lot of people to be able to meet these different financial situations and to feel okay, to feel secure, to feel like I know what I'm doing and if I don't, I'm in a position where I am mindful enough to ask, because that's often a, a place where you know someone is financially healthy.
When they are also clear on the things that they know and the things that they don't. And so in regards of being more mindful with our money there, there are multiple things we can do in that place too. Like we can, uh, I, I know a lot of people talk about meditating, uh, which is a great way to become more mindful.
And, uh, but another way that we can become more mindful is by journaling. By just asking ourselves a question at the top of a page and letting our fingers and hands do the writing, um, by grounding ourself, I'm, I'm somebody who grounds myself naturally in grass outside, whether it's, or in plants that are near me.
And, uh, I'm also a reiki master teacher. And so there are practices that I use to ground myself every day, whether. They are affirmations, whether it's prayer, whether it's meditation, whether it's saying my Reiki principles every single day, like different practices that I have, they ground me so that when I am meeting financial experiences that I would wasn't expecting, that I can get back to center sooner and for people.
You know, you hear it all the time where people are saying you shouldn't make, uh, emotional decisions about money, or you shouldn't use emotions in money, in business decisions. I disagree with that. That's crazy. I think that you should use the emotions the way they're supposed to be used as information, because if you are, uh, if something happens and you feel angry, , that is not something to just throw away.
That's something you should recognize and say, oh, this is something that made me mad. I should do something about this so that I'm not mad in the future. And we've seen a ton of people who are able to take action from those places of emotion that turn out to be impactful for them, their families, and for their communities.
And so, um, You know, just being more mindful, being more conscious of what's going on around you and how to be more present in these things that are happening, um, are, is they're all important and all of them are connected. All four of those things that I mentioned about financial wellness are connected.
The awareness, the education, the action, and the mindfulness. Because if you're not mindful, And in these things that that's, that are happening. Um, or if you're not aware in these things that are happening, it's gonna be tough to be mindful, like to understand now that things are gonna happen every single day.
We're as, as long as we're still here, life is gonna keep life in. But these are some things that you can do when they happen. Like, I'll take money out of my financial runway account, or I'll. You know, make sure that I'm not leveraged too heavy so something happens that I can move with flexibility. And so, um, really, I think as long as people keep these in mind when they're creating something that is financially well, when they're creating something that is.
Really going to impact financial health for a client or for, uh, their families. If they keep these things in mind or as they're going through their, their financial lives themselves, they keep these things in mind, then I think we'll all be more financially healthy. We'll all be more financially well, and I do want to make sure that we can acknowledge.
and decipher what financial wellness is because you also have people who are, um, quote unquote selling financial wellness. And you want to be able to say to someone like, oh, this is not what I'm looking for, or This is not exactly what you said it was. This is a, this is a platform that you have created to show me how to, like you said, trade.
That is different. My guy. Like, that's, that's a little different. You know, that's a, that's a little different. And so, um, I think just providing people this information and giving them some clarity is, is my biggest thing when we're talking about being more financially healthy, whether it's for ourselves or across the board for our community.
[00:17:44] Tiffany Grant: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. And you know, financial wellness is more holistic than just, you know, maybe a course on trading stocks or a course on budgeting or whatever. Um, financial wellness is definitely way more than that, and I love that you came up with these four components because it hits on. every area that financial wellness should cover.
And it's funny when you were saying, you know the things that you do to ground. I have my singing bowl over here and my friend was laughing at me the other day because I was like, hold on. And then she heard the
[00:18:18] Steven Hughes: i'll rock with the singing. I'm with that. Yeah. I love them.
[00:18:23] Tiffany Grant: So I keep it on my desk, you know, cuz I think at, in the moment I was, um, we were talking about something that was kind of, you know, raising my blood pressure a little bit.
So I was like, hold on, I need to just, I need to come back down. Um, and she started dying laughing. But I say that to say there's so many different ways that you can ground yourself that you can kind of refresh. Um, and you know, whether you do that every day. Um, well, you should do it every day, but, uh, whatever you decide that you wanna do is completely up to you.
Maybe it's multiple times a day. Um, another strategy that I used to use when I was in corporate was, I had a different alarm set up on my phone and each alarm would have an affirmation and so, you know, my alarm would go off and I had it set to where, it was usually the times where I think it was like 10 o'clock, maybe like a two o'clock, and then I had one after I got home at like, Seven, because those were the times where, you know, you kind of have lulls or maybe you just get into work, you realize you got a lot to do, or you're getting home and you're like, dang, like , the day's not over yet.
you know? And so it was different affirmations based on the time of day it was. And when that alarm would go off, I'm like, ah, okay. I feel a little better now. Wow. Um, so just keeping your mind and kind of hacking that process sometimes of keeping your mind on the focus, on the positive, I feel like has been super helpful for me.
So hopefully this all helps someone listening. I'm sure it will. Um, so if people were interested in finding out more about. Steven, um, or learning more about financial wellness or financial therapy cause I didn't mention that, but, um, how would they find you?
[00:20:10] Steven Hughes: Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. I'm Steven M.
Hughes, M like Money Hughes and you can also find me on my website steven m hughes.com. Um, and. From there, you'll be able to get connected to everything else that I have going on podcasts, uh, blogs, videos, everything else, and get resources that you need in terms of financial therapy and wellness. And, uh, of course you can follow me on the gram like I'm, uh, Steven M.
Hughes on there as well. And so yeah, let's connect. Yes. Awesome,
[00:20:41] Tiffany Grant: awesome. And if you didn't catch any of that, I will definitely have it in the show notes. And also you might have heard Steven on his spaces once or twice, I'm just saying, um, . So I'll have all his links there and definitely tap in. I follow Steve.
I love Steve. Um, he's awesome. Puts out a lot of great content. He does like affirmations every day on Twitter, so definitely check that out. Um, but thank you so much for coming on the show and I appreciate you dropping all these
[00:21:07] Steven Hughes: gems. Appreciate you having me and we made it. We got this thing done. I told you we was gonna make it happen.
So, uh, thanks again for having me in the, uh, guest chair and looking forward to popping back on here soon. Y'all
[00:21:19] Tiffany Grant: have a good one. Bye. .
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