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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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The Five Key Factors for Developing a Great Financial Wellness Initiative

Posted By Chuck Gillespie, Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Tips for guiding your employees toward a better relationship with their money.

1. Understand the contextual aspect of a person’s need for help with their financial matters.

  1. Assess interests and needs (readiness for change)
    Identify the barriers or resistance to change
  2. Seek out tools to help them navigate their own strategy based on fit, geography and cultural need.


2. Apply a systematic approach to financial wellness by focusing more on the interrelationship between elements within the system at the organization, community or global level.

  1. Help individuals identify specific dynamics in their daily lives that trigger poor financial decisions.
  2. Recognize how a person’s financial matters are affected by social wellness dynamics (friends, family, organization, community, lifestyle, etc…)
  3. Help people recognize their limitations and provide additional guidance to support them when they are ready to make the change.
  4. Know where people get their financial advice from. The top places are as follow: 30% Google/my own research, 22% from financial planners, 16% from parents, 10% from friends.


3. Take a more methodological approach to your financial wellness strategy.

  1. If someone is not ready to change their relationship with their money, then do your best to keep them informed until they are ready.
  2. Get your internal champions trained to be able to provide the right types of information to help others better understand their relationship with money and readiness for change.
  3. It is a waste of time to teach retirement planning to people who struggle to pay their monthly bills.


4. Take a project management approach championing financial wellness.

  1. Help people prepare their specific journey toward financial fitness and remember that each journey will be different. You need to be there for support and accountability.
  2. A multitude of tools and resources need to be available. Some will need more help than others.
  3. Develop at least one simple “starter” program for individuals who think they just want to follow a plan. Do not make this complex. Focus on the basics of financial lifestyles like eating out versus cooking at home or developing a monthly budget. This is a starting point, not the ultimate solution.


5. Be professional while helping people.

  1. Practice what you preach.
  2. Maintain a positive atmosphere when offering help – do not judge people.
  3. People will fail. Be there to coach them back on track.

Remember that this is a marathon for most people. If we do not have a good relationship with financial matters, more money will not solve the problem – just enhance it.

Financial Wellness Facilitator Certificate coursePrepare your organization by having champions of financial wellness ready to help guide your employees toward a better relationship with their money.

Register to get the training and materials needed to facilitate the one-hour “Living Financially Well” program for your workforce.

Learn More

Tags:  Financial Wellness  wellness promotion competency model 

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Wellness Trends - July 2019

Posted By NWI, Thursday, July 25, 2019

Surgeon General Priority: Community Health and Economic Prosperity

The health of Americans is not as good as it could be, despite large expenditures on healthcare. Our poorer health status creates costs and challenges for individuals, families, communities, and businesses, and can be a drag on the economy, as too many jobs remain unfilled and productivity is adversely affected. Many of our poor health problems are rooted in inadequate investments in prevention and unequal economic opportunities in our communities.  Read more at HHS.gov.


Is #MeToo a Multicultural Competency? 

Great article on how the #MeToo movement is shaping policy at work. Consultants, public health leaders, health coaches, academics, clinicians need to consider the positive impact that can be had with understanding multi-cultural strategies.  The article states, “The #MeToo movement set in motion a nationwide discussion and contributed to countless positive changes. The next step is to make sure that current sexual harassment policies are in place and understood by everyone to create a safe, welcoming workplace for all employees.”  As you read this, think about the multi-cultural competencies that must be considered beyond gender.  Read more at BenefitsPRO.com.


Can summer stress cause employee burnout? 

While summertime is often seen as a leisurely season where Americans take time off for extended family vacations and enjoy long days at the beach, new research suggests time off doesn’t always translate into reduced stress.  Read more at benefitnews.com.


Self-Care Guidelines and How to Teach Others about the Power of Self-Care

In an effort to bring the practice of self-care to a broader audience, The World Health Organization(WHO) has launched its first guideline on self-care interventions for health.  It’s aimed to “empower individuals, families and communities to optimize their health as advocates.

While this is a great resource to offer, just handing out a guidebook will not solve the issue. We must train individuals to teach others about the power of self-care.  It begins with understanding how to dive into one’s conscience, in an effort to make the change.  Programs like NWI’s Empowered Health Consciousness is a great way to learn these tools.  Please read the WHO guidelines and learn for yourself, but consider how you can teach others to develop better self-care.  


Worksite Wellness 


Well-Being Enhances Benefits of Employee Engagement

Two major factors influence employee performance, Gallup has found: engagement and well-being . Read more at Gallup.com.


8 Things You Need To Know About Employee Wellness Programs

Employee wellness programs can look different at different companies, and that’s a good thing.  Read more at Forbes.com.


The Right Ingredients Brew Wellness Program Success

Stress management and tech tools improve outcomes, but incentives are questioned. Read more at SHRM.org.


Financial Wellness


6 Ways to Measure the Success of Financial Wellness Efforts  

Employers are missing out on opportunities to improve these programs.  Read more SHRM.org.


Pay Off Debt Or Save For Retirement? It's Time For An Actuary-Splainer 

What's the best approach to managing finances?  Read more at Forbes.com.


5 Things to Know About Financial Wellness Programs  

More employers offer workers guidance on budgeting and paying down debt. Here's how to make the most of it.  Read more ConsumerReports.com.


Tags:  burnout  Community wellness  employee wellness  Empowered Health Consciousness  Financial Wellness  multicultural competency  self care  trends  wellness trends  Worksite Wellness 

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Financial Wellness and Retirement – The SECURE Act

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Financial Wellness and Retirement – The SECURE ActThe Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019 upends some of the traditional planning and savings strategies for professionals or business owners and their families. Nyhart is a recent addition to our strategic partnerships at the National Wellness Institute. Nyhart put together a very basic overview about what could change should the SECURE Act become law. There will be changes to the bill as written, but now that we have a strategic partner like Nyhart, we will be able to be better informed about these and other health and financial policies, which means you have this expertise available as a part of the NWI Network. Further, should the SECURE Act become law, with the help of Nyhart, the NWI Community will be better informed to provide the needed information about how this could affect the way people save for retirement. 


About Nyhart

NyhartThe National Wellness Institute is excited to have the actuarial expertise available for health care, retirement planning and financial wellness through our newest partner, Nyhart. Nyhart also is a majority owner of a unique financial platform called Votaire. Votaire has teamed up with another one of our financial wellness partners, Foundation for Financial Wellness, to deliver to your employees or clients the training and resources needed to drive sound financial habits. Contact us to learn more about this partnership or if you need independent actuarial services from one of the largest and oldest employee-owned actuarial firms in the United States. 

Tags:  Financial Wellness  Foundation for Financial Wellness  Nyhart  Retirement  Votaire 

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Community Food Security: Resources and a Wellness Perspective

Posted By Christina Peterson, Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Updated: Monday, July 15, 2019

As wellness professionals, we know nutrition is more than just healthy or unhealthy choices. The environments in which people live, work, and play influence food availability, accessibility, dietary behaviors, and ultimately, health. As NWI’s recent attention to social determinants of health, highlights food security and diet quality varies across neighborhoods, counties, and states. It’s evident that socio-economic factors, such as composition of local food environments, household social capital, and concentrated disadvantage, influence diet quality. In response, Community Food Security (CFS) has emerged as a movement and framework to ensure, “safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance, social justice, and democratic decision-making”. We are witnessing the growth of this movement in our communities as local food policy councils form coalitions, worksites implement programs that connect employees with local foods, and states raise minimum wages in the food-service industry.

cityscape with light trails at night

CFS Resources

My research focuses on understanding the determinants of CFS and implications for evaluation. Through my work, I’ve reviewed many great CFS resources that wellness professionals may find useful. The following sections provide links to these resources and a review on ways to build strengths in the practice of CFS and wellness.

1. Learn more about CFS:
Community Food Security in the United States: A Review of the Literature
Whole Communities Fellowship
(Applications for the 2020 fellowship cohort will open in November 2019)

2. Plan and evaluate:
Whole Measures for Community Food Systems
Values-Based Planning & Evaluation
USDA Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit

Building on Strengths: Wellness meets CFS

Wellness is defined by the National Wellness Institute as an “Active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence”. Wellness promotion focuses on creating the conditions that support health (rather than just preventing disease) by leveraging strategies grounded in respect for human agency, self-determination, authentic relationships, and participatory decision-making. Yet, individual wellness is embedded in and inter-dependent with the wellness of the community. Community wellness models stress the importance of fairness and justice to wellness promotion. By viewing nutrition through a community lens, focusing on strengths, and engaging members in making decisions about their food environment, the vision and practice of CFS is a natural fit with wellness promotion.

CFS is a growing movement and while the resources currently available are helpful, wellness practitioners may face challenges in initiating change on CFS issues. However, there are ways to build upon the strengths of wellness and CFS to improve participatory decision-making, multi-cultural competency, financial wellness, and evaluation.

Participatory Decision-making

Participatory decision-making is a value at the heart of wellness promotion and CFS as it enables individuals and communities to exercise agency and self-determination. However, power within communities is not evenly distributed and can influence participation in decision-making, agenda setting, and the shaping of perceived needs. Long-term engagement in community planning and evaluation efforts often requires time, transportation, child-care, and skills. These constraints can prevent marginalized groups from influencing the types of programs and policies initiated to improve the food environment in their community (see What Wellness Professionals Need to Know about Sugar Taxes as an example). Ensuring that planning meetings are accessible to a diverse range of community members is critical. Practitioners must also recognize that capacity building may be needed to ensure that everyone at the table has the skills to contribute to their full potential.

people in the cityMulti-cultural Competency

Multi-cultural competency is an essential aspect of wellness practice. There is substantial evidence that CFS and nutrition initiatives can reinforce racial hierarchies by divorcing nutrition and food preferences from a sociocultural context. For instance, deficit-based nutrition education programs that ignore participants’ culinary traditions or experience risks, violate personal agency and self-determination rather than supporting it. That’s not wellness. Moreover, some food advocates argue that the term “food desert” supports white privilege by implying emptiness in (often-times) black and brown communities and failing to recognize the robust informal food networks that exist. Organizations can provide staff with multi-cultural competency training that goes beyond one-size-fits-all nutrition programs and policies.

Financial Wellness

Nutrition is multi-dimensional and connected to each aspect of wellness, not just physical. In terms of occupational wellness, the food-service industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in America. Although financial wellness has received a lot of attention recently due, in part to its influence on stress, current conversations overlook the role of economic justice. Socioeconomic patterns, such as geographic concentrations of low wages, high rent costs, residential instability, and unemployment adversely impact the financial wellness of individuals, but also entire communities. CFS expands the concept of financial wellness by building local wealth with policies like promoting local business development, community economic literacy, living wages, and investment in infrastructure that supports environmental health—Green New Deal anyone?


The final strength to build upon relates to evaluation. The CFS resources cited earlier provide guidance on how to define intended outcomes and select indicators in a participatory manner. However, CFS and wellness are characterized by complex systems that may not be fully understood, controllable, or predictable. Thus, unintended outcomes are inevitable. Current CFS evaluation guides do not provide detail on methods for evaluating systems and unintended outcomes. When evaluating CFS and wellness initiatives, practitioners can partner with an experienced evaluation team to implement systems-based evaluation frameworks or appreciative methods like Ripple Effects Mapping that can help uncover unintended outcomes influencing the system.

Christina PetersonChristina Peterson (@foodkindness) is a PhD student in Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement at the University of Tennessee. She is passionate about promoting sensible nutrition, inclusive communities and economic diversity through food system program and policy evaluation. Christina also has a MS in Nutrition and a BA in Economics. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked for a wellness non-profit conducting needs assessments, program evaluation and research on certification standards. Christina has worked and volunteered in many countries, including Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Kenya, Spain, and Mexico. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Office of Information Technology Research Computing Support group. 


Tags:  Community wellness  Financial Wellness  food  food security 

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Tax Benefits of Caring for an Aging Relative

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We often put the care of our loved ones ahead of our personal needs. This can not only impact our own physical and emotional wellness, but also our finances. Elder care situations can be complex and this article provides some guidance on how to determine if you qualify for tax benefits to assist with the care of dependent relatives. There are three general approaches to tax savings on elder care costs – declaring your elderly relative as a dependent to receive an exemption, taking medical deductions that can be itemized, and claiming a dependent care credit that can be subtracted directly from the taxes you owe. With some assistance, you may be able to reduce the financial stress that comes with caring for a relative and focus more of your attention on providing the love and support they need.

Tags:  Aging  Elder Care  Financial Wellness  March 2017 

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Financial Wellness and the Generations

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 1, 2016

A recent study about the financial wellness of American employees provided mixed messages about their financial wellness.  Namely, the financial wellness of the employees seemed to correlate directly with the generation they were born into. The study, performed by an organization called Financial Finesse, polled 35,000 employees, measuring their financial savvy and their financial stress on a 10-point scale.


Baby Boomers were the worst off of the three generations studied, facing immediate challenges with saving enough money for retirement. Their financial knowledge was above the other two generations, but the  economic downturn of 2008 coupled with the lack of adequate asset diversification and savings has many Baby Boomers worried about whether they will be able to retire.


Generation X is also facing challenges with retirement, but as a whole, according to the study, seem to be more adequately prepared for financial hardships, and have a more steadfast approach to investing and saving, and will largely be able to follow their plans to retire.


Millenials, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the least financially educated of the three groups studied, but have a distinct advantage over the other two generations in that they have a significant amount of time before they will retire, so therefore have a lot of leeway in terms of the time they have to get educated and start saving.


Regardless of the generation, Financial Finesse asserts that if anyone within the group is able to increase their Financial Wellness score by one point on the ten-point scale, they should be able to save an additional 12%, and an increase of two points will increase their savings by 27%.


To download the study from Financial Finesse, click here.

Tags:  Baby Boomers  Financial Wellness  Generation X  Generations  Millenials  Retirement 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Financial Wellness

Posted By NWI, Monday, January 5, 2015
Updated: Monday, December 22, 2014

1.       Have a budget and stick to it. Click here for a guide: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/06/03/a-guide-to-creating-your-ideal-household-budget

2.       Divide the money you are not investing (we’ll get to that later) between a free checking account (the money you will need to cover your weekly and monthly bills) and a high-interest savings account (the emergency fund, 3-6 months of your salary.) Here’s an emergency fund calculator: http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/calculators/calculate/emergencyFund.php?calcCategory=budget

3.       Pay off the full balance of your credit card monthly (don't spend more than you can pay for) and make sure you are earning something extra for using that credit card, like miles or cash back. Here is a site the compares credit cards: http://www.nerdwallet.com/the-best-credit-cards

4.       If you have had trouble paying off the full balance of your credit cards each month, don’t use them unless you have to (say, to rent a car) and instead use a bank debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo. This will help you to only spend what you have.

5.       Have a savings plan. Between money for an emergency plan, money for retirement, and then the possibility of additional funds for investments, college, etc.—money is easier to come by little by little than in huge lump sums. Saving could mean you have to give up cable, a newer car, eating lunch out, or even making sure you don’t waste money by throwing away food, but the security is worth it in the long run. Here is an article about the ways Americans waste money they could be saving: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/24/20-ways-we-blow-our-money/6826633/

6.       Realize finances are based on math and not magic. Not addressing a financial issue and hoping it will work out, is generally a poor practice. Here is a list of things that are more likely than you winning the lottery (Note, the list includes visiting the ER for a pogo stick injury and being a U.S. president): http://moneyminiblog.com/interesting/things-more-likely-happen-winning-lottery/

7.       Have health insurance. Not only is it a law in the United States, but a typical emergency room visit can cost between $100 and $1,500 (http://health.costhelper.com/emergency-room.html). As if that’s not bad enough, there are hundreds of stories on the Internet that mirror the “$24,000 for a sprained ankle” snafu.

8.       While you’re at it, get home owner's or renter's insurance. Why? Stuff happens that you can’t control. Also, as stated in #5: Money is easier to come by little by little than in huge lump sums.

9.       If you do go into debt, and want help getting out of debt, consult this government site for selecting a reputable credit counseling agency: http://www.usa.gov/topics/money/credit/debt/out-of-control.shtml

10.   Remember, living a “well” life is about balance. This includes balancing our “needs” with our "wants.” It involves controlling the things we can control in preparation for the things that are out of our control. And, when things go south and you find yourself unable to manage, it is about reaching out and finding help to get yourself back on track. 

Want some additional reading? Check out some books from The Ultimate Cheapskate,  http://www.ultimatecheapskate.com/books.html

Tags:  Finance  Financial Wellness  Intellectual  January 2015  Occupational  Social  Wellness In 10 

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