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Financial Friday Round-Up: July 19 – July 23, 2021

Welcome to the latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find articles on inflation, the entrepreneurial mindset, an economics reading list, and more.

Everything Feels More Expensive Because It Is

If it feels like gas, groceries, used cars, and other goods have been more expensive lately, that’s because they are — prices have been going up on goods across the board, and Vox wrote a piece to explain why. Read more to find out what drives this kind of economic inflation.

How 5 Founders Developed Their Entrepreneurial Mindsets

Forbes regularly profiles entrepreneurs to recognize their achievements and ask them how they found success — in their latest issue, they spoke to five founders who changed their mindset from employee to employer and outlined what it takes to make the change. Check out this piece for valuable tips like staying grateful for your mistakes and supporting other entrepreneurs.

Beach Reads For Econ Nerds

Professor of Economics Tyler Cowen loves to read, and in this breezy episode of Planet Money, NPR asked him to list three economics books that everyone should read to understand the world today. This short listen is a great way to expand your reading list and broaden your perspective on economics.

Meet the Typical 40-Year-Old Millennial

The world is different for millennials than it was for Generation X or the Baby Boomers, and this profile of the obstacles a 40-year-old millennial has to face provides an enlightening way to understand our largest generation.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: June 21 - June 25, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: June 14 - June 18, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: June 7 - June 11, 2021

Share Your Umbrella Podcast: A Conversation with Bee Lee

This week’s guest on Share Your Umbrella, the First Financial Security® podcast that features entrepreneurs and their stories of helping communities with financial solutions, is Senior Marketing Director Bee Lee. Bee studied hard to get her insurance license while working as a housekeeper and learning English at the same time. She gave us her advice on how to keep a positive attitude and told us the importance of events like Leaders Convention on the growth of her business. For this blog post, we have highlighted some excerpts of her interview for all to read.

See below for an excerpt of our conversation — you can listen to the full episode here.

Bee, what were you doing before you joined FFS?

Housekeeping was my first job. At that time, I didn’t know English, and my friend helped me get into it. I was a 24-year-old single mom with six children, doing housekeeping for a couple of years before my other friend helped me get a caregiving job instead.

Personally, I thought, “I don't have an education. Maybe this caregiving job is all I need.” But most of the patients I took care of were some kind of business owner, and when I saw their lifestyles, I thought, “Wow. I want to retire as a business owner, not as an employee.” I also wanted to help families — I love helping people, especially older people — but no matter how much I enjoyed it, at the end of the day, I wanted to find something that was not nine-to-five.

It was hard for me. I grew up in a small village with no school, all the way up in the mountains. I came to this country from Laos. I couldn’t even think about my future there. I would only think about doing what my parents said: get married, have children. That’s why I married so young. That made it hard to find a better job and a better opportunity here.

What are some of the challenges that you faced early on in your business? What advice would you give to people who are looking to overcome their own challenges?

To get my license, I had to translate from English to my language, but I got through it. I studied so hard. I studied very hard and I look at that license as something that’s very important to me.

The mindset, too — you’re training to be an employee your whole life, and now you have to discipline yourself as a business owner, training yourself little by little because you’re not used to being a business owner instead of an employee. It’s very hard. You have to think positively — if you keep moving every day, you will reach your goal. Just don’t give up, don’t fall back, and keep moving every day.

I never miss Leaders Convention and JumpStart because that’s where you learn to grow your business. Every time I go to Leaders Convention, I learn more about the carriers and more about the products. I bring it home and use it to grow the business.

When I went to my first Leaders Convention, the first thing that came to my mind was hearing someone speak and thinking, “Her English is just like mine! If she can do it, I can do it too.” Since then, I’ve never missed. You always learn from other leaders, from the carriers, and from the Home Office.

2020 changed everything for the industry — what did you do to keep your business running last year?

In 2020, I had to change to move us in a different direction. You cannot do the same thing when everything else changes. We learned how to Zoom and how to use social media.

When the quarantine came, we were so scared. We stopped the business for two weeks as we figured it out. We asked ourselves, “What are we going to do with our business?” We had to change just a little bit. It’s just like when you’re cooking and it doesn’t taste good — you have to add new ingredients, a little bit of spice.

Did you see a change in client attitude as well as a result of the pandemic?

Our old clients kept referring people to us, and I told myself, “Wow, people are taking insurance more seriously now.” The excellent customer service we provide for the client — anything they need, we help them and serve them — keeps them happy. So many people need policies. This is the right time.

Do you have any stories of sharing your umbrella — either the FFS opportunity or the protection of these financial solutions?

In my business, we want to help the younger generation prepare for their retirement. When the time comes, these young people will need protection. So many people reach out to me a month before their retirement, and I think “This is not the right time.” It’s hard to say that it’s too late at that point. There are other things we can do, but starting early is so impactful. That’s why I go to young people and tell them straight: “These products can protect you.” Especially the ones with living benefits.

Listen to our full conversation with Bee Lee for more valuable insight into running your own

Four Retirement Planning Tips for Young Adults

Too many young people make the mistake of waiting too long to save for retirement. Retiring can feel so far away that they trick themselves into not saving soon enough. Do not fall into the trap of waiting — retirement involves planning against factors like inflation, health issues, a competitive job market, and an increasing life expectancy. Aggressively saving while you are young will take advantage of compound interest, which makes it easier to reach your retirement goals by spending less time and effort than if you started saving later.

It is never too early to start saving for your future. Planning is essential, not only for you but also for your family’s wealth and well-being. The sooner you start to plan your retirement, the sooner you can start to accumulate wealth, weather short-term market fluctuations, and take advantage of compound interest.

"Aggressively saving while you are young will take advantage of compound interest."

Ways Young Adults Can Plan for Retirement

The younger you are when you start your retirement plan, the easier it is to build your wealth. Here is how you can build a savings mindset as early as possible:

• Make financial freedom the goal.

Sometimes, the word “retirement” tricks your mind into putting it on the back burner. It can make the future feel far away. The goal is to reframe “retirement” by calling it something more immediately useful: “financial freedom.” Instead of saving for years from now, think of every cent as an inch toward financial freedom — something that can be achieved at any point in time. By aiming to be free of financial burden, you can take steps toward retirement that feel rewarding in daily life.

• Take an annual hard look at your finances.

Spending money can transform into habits and routines. Even if your car insurance rate keeps rising, you might not look for a cheaper policy because sticking with a routine is simpler. Set aside time each year to take a long, hard look at your money. Make a list of all your bills — cell phone, internet, utilities, memberships, debts — then ask yourself what you can get rid of, what you can reduce, or what you can replace.

Track your monthly expenses.

To save money properly, avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck. Monitor your expenses — what you spend is just as important as what you make, as making millions will not help your future if you are also spending millions.

Save what you can, no matter how small.

Compound interest is one of the most powerful saving tools. For example, $100 today at 8% interest will be $3,192 in 45 years. Frequent savings of even less can quickly build into large sums of money. Automate your contributions and you can build wealth for retirement without having to give it a second thought.

"Reframe how you think about retirement — instead of saving for years from now, think of every cent as an inch toward financial freedom."

Save Sooner, Enjoy Later

By aiming for financial freedom and living accordingly, you can go a long way towards getting ahead on your retirement. It is important to start saving as young as you can; as you get older, it gets harder to accumulate wealth through interest. Your goal is financial security — your reward will be peace of mind.

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Share Your Umbrella Podcast: A Conversation with Abiyel Hewitt

Each episode of Share Your Umbrella, the First Financial Security® podcast that shares stories from entrepreneurs who help families with financial solutions, is released with a blog post that highlights the most interesting parts of the interviews for all to read. This week, we spoke to Area Marketing Director Abiyel Hewitt about the benefits of being your own boss, how technology has been helping financial education, and helping teachers with their retirement through his book Teacher’s Guide to Tax-Free Retirement.

See below for an excerpt of our conversation — you can listen to the full episode here.

Abiyel, what kind of business were you doing before you joined FFS?

Before the FFS opportunity, I was in the pharmaceutical business. I worked for a large Fortune 500 company. Basically, my job was just to go to physicians’ offices, talk to them about a particular drug and how the product could fit them. I’d ask what types of patients they thought could use the product and things like that. It was really easy to do, plus it had a company car, benefits and all that.

Unfortunately, I got laid off in 2011. The industry was changing. At one point, when I first started, it was very easy — but the industry got overloaded and the physicians’ offices were just flooded with representatives coming in. It was disrupting a physician’s everyday flow. As a result, they didn't need as many reps as they did before. So I had to kind of figure out what was I going to do.

I didn't want to be anyone's employee at that point. Then, I had the idea to try insurance. I started studying for my test and this whole world of financial services was opened up to me just by having an insurance license. A good friend of mine was working with FFS at the time. He had been telling me about it for about a year, but I wouldn't listen to him because I was working at my pharmaceutical job. He was persistent, though. He came back to me again, and I just happened to get retired at that point. So, I listened — that’s how I got to working with FFS, and I've been here ever since.

Did you run into any challenges by switching to the FFS model?

It took me a while to get out of that employee mindset. Now, I do everything for myself. I had support from my upline, but I also had to start learning how to be independent. At my old job, I was used to coming home at one or two o'clock in the afternoon. It didn't take long for me to do my job because I had been doing it for so long. I knew all the physicians, everybody knew me. Here, I had to work to shake that mindset.

In what ways do you use technology and FFS tools in your business?

When I first started, the internet was available, but it wasn't like it is now. Now, everybody is always Googling. If you want to know something, you Google it. So the clients that I talk to now — the younger ones, in particular — are more sophisticated than they were ten years ago. They like information and automation. So one of the tools that I use now is an automated tool that uses an illustration to compare a 401(k) or 403(b) to an Indexed Universal Life policy. They can see when they would run out of money versus how the IUL would keep giving them money tax-free for the rest of their life. They like that tool.

I don't use it on the older clients because they tend not to understand all that. They might think, “Are you just trying to trick me with the technology stuff?” Younger players appreciate the technology, though. So you have to understand who you're talking to when you’re using these tools.

You wrote a book called the Teacher’s Guide to Tax-Free Retirement. Can you tell us a little about how that came to be and what it took to write it?

I started writing the book a year and a half before the pandemic. My idea was to write something for teachers that could be used as a reference point or that they could pass on to other people. It needed to be easy to read and easy to understand, so the book is only 26 pages long. It illustrates different examples of individuals and their retirement needs, then it shows how to fix them. It goes over the tax history of the U.S. and how taxes have affected us over the years and things like that. I tell them my story in the beginning, how I got into planning my own retirement, and the challenges that I faced.

Before the book, I’d find that I could sell a product and six months later the client might have no idea what they got. They would forget about it. When they have the book, they can reference it, they can share it with people, they can become semi-experts themselves. They get more involved in their retirement, and they have a better understanding of it. It’s my way of doing whatever I can for the client.

Listen to our full conversation with Abiyel

Industry Insights

Industry Insights is our quarterly round-up of recent news and data on the state of the insurance industry today. As more and more people get vaccinated, most customers are caught in a transitional state — those who bought life insurance during the pandemic find themselves newly interested in protecting their legacies, while those who haven’t bought policies yet have seen a renewed spike in interest. Though the world has largely returned to normal compared to last year’s lockdown period, the effects of COVID on those who buy life insurance will likely be felt for years to come.

Life Insurance is on People’s Minds

LIMRA and Life Happens have published their annual Insurance Barometer Study, and the numbers show that customers are recognizing the importance of life insurance more than ever before. This heightened awareness is reflected in statistics like 59% of those who do not own life insurance say they need it and the 48% of Millennials who plan to buy coverage in the next year. Read this study for a full picture of this recent demand.

Pandemic Drives Increased Interest in Benefits

Recent research from LIMRA shows that employees are putting greater value in employer-offered benefits in the wake of the pandemic. The study asked full-time employees what changes they made during their 2020 open enrollment period to get a glimpse at the immediate effects of the pandemic on employee benefits packages. The top three benefits added were life insurance, medical insurance, and dental insurance. Read the study for more facts and figures.

Covid Isn’t Done Changing the Life Insurance Industry Just Yet

The Wall Street Journal reports that the method of buying and selling life insurance may never be the same for many customers. COVID-19 sped up what is sometimes called “fluidless,” or accelerated, underwriting; the pandemic also brought a larger number of young people to apply for policies and obtain coverage. For more thoughts on what a post-pandemic insurance industry could look like, check out the rest of the article.

Financial Friday Round-Up: June 21 – June 25, 2021

Welcome to the latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find articles on “halftime” audits, understanding automation, the truth behind inflation, and more.

Keep Yourself Honest With a Financial "Halftime" Audit

Kiplinger has teamed up with linebacker Brandon Copeland of the Atlanta Falcons on a campaign encouraging people to check their financial progress on a routine basis, calling it a financial “halftime” audit. This promising initiative ensures people stay on track to meet their financial goals halfway through the year. Check out this article for more information.

A New Way to Understand Automation

Technological advancement affects the business world in almost every way, most drastically with the rise of automation — the transferring of certain jobs from workers to machines. This complex issue has pushed our economy for almost thirty years now, and this informative episode from Planet Money helps us understand where automation may be going from here.

What is Inflation and When You Should Really Start Worrying About it

This spring saw inflation jumping to its fastest rate since 2008, though it has slowed down as we enter the summer months. Inflation can be a danger sign to some experts, while others remain calm as they expect the change to be temporary. This handy Business Insider piece helps explain when inflation is actually worrisome and when it’s just a normal part of the economic cycle.

The 27 Cheapest Places to Travel this Summer

After last year’s travel season was taken from us by a pandemic, those who are safely vaccinated are rightfully itching to get back out and see the world this summer. If you are looking to get out of town and want to save a buck while doing so, check out this Forbes list of the cheapest places to travel in 2021.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: June 14 - June 18, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: June 7 - June 11, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: May 31 - June 4, 2021


Share Your Umbrella Podcast: A Conversation with Brandi Bridgett

First Financial Security’s® Share Your Umbrella podcast is dedicated to telling stories of entrepreneurs who help families and communities with financial solutions. Every week we take excerpts from the most interesting parts of our interviews and post them on our blog. This week, we spoke to National Marketing Director Brand Bridgett about how she built the perfect daily routine, how to thrive as a woman in a male-dominated industry and what sharing the umbrella means to her.

See below for an excerpt of our conversation — you can listen to the full episode here.

Brandi, what were you doing before joining FFS?

Before FFS, I was sort of a serial entrepreneur. At a very young age, I saw my dad being an entrepreneur, but I didn’t really know what that was. I just saw that he was always there for us. I was living in Washington, DC, where you’re expected to go to school, get a degree and get a good government job. That’s how you work your way up to make those six figures. I assumed that I was either going to go down that route, or I was going to go into the medical industry and become a nurse.

I quickly changed paths when I got married young. I fell in love with my high school sweetheart and he joined the military. As we were traveling around the country and having children, I realized that my career path wasn't going to be exactly what I thought it was going to be because I wanted to really be there for my kids. That's when I committed to the idea of entrepreneurship.

I've been in the health and wellness space — I taught people about nutrition and how to trust your body when it comes to food. I opened a facility out in California where we were teaching that on a constant basis. Then, when I moved back here to the DC area, I worked for a plastic surgeon for ten years.

It wasn't until I think my husband passed away that I realized that a nine-to-five wasn't fitting for me anymore. I needed to be Superwoman for my kids, to be able to be at every field trip, to be able to drop them off at school in the morning, to be able to pick them up and reassure them that their mom was going to be there for them. I wanted to go back to the health and wellness space, but because I had evolved, that space wasn't there for me anymore.

Then I was introduced to FFS. I was introduced to Shirley Luu and it all just clicked. I saw that FFS was so multifaceted — that there are so many nuances to helping people in this business. That’s how I got here.

What does your daily life with FFS look like as opposed to that nine-to-five?

So many people have the misconception that when you're an entrepreneur, your life looks like an Instagram ad — that you're at the pool all day, you're driving around in all these fancy cars, you're having brunch every single day. People don't understand that when you become an entrepreneur, you have to become your own boss. You have to build your own schedule and you have to have a daily method of operation. You have to live by your calendar.

I get up and create a routine for my kids, make sure that they've eaten breakfast and they get to school on time. Then, I get to sit down and reflect: “Okay, what is it that I really need to get done today? What are my priorities? Who do I need to reach out and get in touch with?” I think that in this year, specifically, if you ask that question every day — “Who can I reach out to today?” — it will automatically grow your business. So many people just want to stay in touch, even if it’s “Hey, I'm thinking about you.”

Do any of the FFS tools help you organize your business? In what ways do you use them?

The one thing that helped us scale the most this year is Success Tracks. Becoming a leader can be a very overwhelming situation: “Am I leading right? Did I teach them everything they needed to know before they got started?” That's a lot of pressure. Success Tracks took some of that pressure off of my shoulders, and helped the new agents feel like they are accountable in their journey as well.

It’s allowed us to scale all across the country because people can be doing these Success Tracks courses at any time of the day, whenever they can fit them in. It feels more like I’m guiding agents and we’re walking together as opposed to feeling like I'm pulling someone toward success. Now, we push towards it together.

It’s what I thought of when I heard “sharing your umbrella.” I see that as one of the biggest signs of humanity — if someone's out in the cold rain and they have no protection, they're drenched, and you share your umbrella to give them cover, it’s like understanding we're all equal, we’re in this together. We’re united.

It’s even more profound in today's world because there's so much financial inequality out there. People didn’t have enough money set aside in savings to help when something as crazy as 2020 happened because they’d never been taught the fundamentals of money. Many people don't even have a budget — they don't even