Financial Friday Round-Up: September 21 – September 25, 2020

To celebrate National Small Business Week, this issue of Financial Friday Round-Up gathers resources and articles from around the web to help small businesses and their owners. Below, we have links to the National Small Business Week homepage, a few pages of resources and statistics, tips on getting a small business loan, and more.

National Small Business Week Homepage

The U.S. Small Business Administration has been celebrating National Small Business Week for 57 years, using its platform to “recognize the critical contributions of American entrepreneurs and small business owners.” This year presents more challenges than ever, and the S.B.A. offers essential highlights from their events in years past for small business owners to use to their advantage — along with many other resources as well.

Small Business Resources: Business Information for Small Business Owners

Small Business Trends is a publication that has been dedicated to small businesses since 2003, and the library of resources they have compiled is extensive, to say the least. With everything from ebooks to templates to quizzes to checklists, this page is essential for any entrepreneur who is looking to learn.

National Small Business Week 2020 at the SBDC

The Small Business Development Center is the information branch of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and they host this page to provide resources like important statistics on America’s small businesses, COVID-19 resources for entrepreneurs, and more small business topics and help that you may need.

What Small Business Owners Should Know About Getting a Loan

This week, Forbes wrote up a guide for anyone looking for a small business loan — including what to expect when you apply and the strategies you can use to get approved. About 80% of these loans get rejected, so read this piece to stay well-prepared and give yourself a leg up with lenders.

7 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Automate

Another Forbes guide this week covers everything entrepreneurs can automate to save themselves some valuable time. From mailing lists to email responses to automated payments, this piece is bound to leave you with new techniques to make your business run smoothly.

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

Financial Friday Round-Up: September 14 - September 18, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: September 7 - September 11, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: August 31 - September 4, 2020

Four Keys to Staying Motivated in Uncertain Times

If you have had trouble staying motivated this year, you are not alone. Luckily, there are some simple habits you can form to help yourself stay focused, find energy, and get some good work done. Here are four keys to finding your daily motivation:

1. Build the Right Routines and Habits

Our minds benefit from having a way to structure the day. Wake up at the same time to keep your sleep schedule healthy and regular. Start the day with a cup of tea or a few moments to just enjoy the morning, settling your mind before diving into work. Then, start work at roughly the same time every day. This establishes a rhythm that helps you focus your attention. Be sure to rest your brain by taking breaks, like going for a run or walking the dog, ideally at a similar time each day. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it can ease stress and help you keep your energy up.

“Start the day with a cup of tea or a few moments to just enjoy the morning. Then, start work at the same time every day.”

2. Take Care of Your Mind.

Nagging thoughts and negative emotions can really sap your energy and focus. Our brains have a bias toward negativity. This means if you accomplish nine goals but fail at one, your brain tends to focus on the goal you missed. Being mindful of this tendency can give you the power to refocus on the things you do accomplish throughout the day.

Reward yourself when you accomplish things to relieve this stress and negativity. Make free time and honor it — give yourself breaks to keep your brain healthy and stop yourself from burning out. Meditate or do yoga if you need help getting centered or staying positive. It helps to have a brain free from doubts, and these techniques control distracting thoughts and help increase your focus.

3. Use Technology to Your Advantage.

While phones are often a source of distraction, they can also be one of our most helpful tools. Do not shy away from using apps and software to help you set goals and improve your mental health. The more interactive they are, the more they can improve your brain. Here are some free apps to start you out:

ThinkUp helps you motivate yourself by giving you daily encouragement through positive affirmations and teaching you strategies for self-talk.

Fabulous teaches you how to build and track good daily habits. The app contains a library of resources to help you achieve focus, meditation, and relaxation during the day.

Strides is a smart goal tracker that helps you write your goals every day. It also keeps them well-organized with tools like charts, reminders, and target dates.

4. Talk to Others by Attending Virtual Events

Stress can also come from too much alone time. It is important to talk to other people if only to take a break from our thoughts. Listening to others reduces anxiety, helps us see a bigger picture, and rejuvenates us for when we sit down to work again. Motivation thrives in group settings. Ideally, this comes from gathering at FFS events to talk and encourage each other. This year may be different, but physical distancing does not have to mean complete isolation. Our Future in Focus Virtual Conference (VC20)  accomplishes the same goal of communicating with others and building your energy as our Leaders Convention does. On Friday, October 2nd, and Saturday, October 3rd, we will hold four sessions that will let you learn from field and Home Office leaders and increase your motivation through engagement with other agents. Don’t miss this chance to focus — register today!

"Motivation thrives in group settings. Our virtual conference on October 2nd – 3rd can give you the energy you need to find focus!”

Focus on the Big Picture

At the end of the day, motivation comes from doing meaningful work that feels rewarding and important to you. Having a routine and staying healthy will take you a long way, but the foundation comes from remembering why you are working in the first place. If you are feeling burnt out, reflect on why you do this work, whether it’s the flexibility, the unlimited income, or the pride that comes from running your own business. You can also find motivation in the bigger picture — we do this to help our clients protect their legacy, safeguard their wealth, and provide for their families.

For more information, read our previous posts on thriving in uncertain times and mental health resources during isolation.

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Financial Friday Round-Up: September 14 – September 18, 2020

Welcome to our latest Financial Friday Round-Up, where we scour the web for the best things for you to read, watch, or listen to regarding finance every week. Below is an article on avoiding COVID scams, when to pay off high-interest debt before putting money in savings, advice on how to sharpen your cold call skills, and more.

COVID Scams From A to Z: 26 Ways Fraudsters Are Fooling People During the Pandemic

Scammers have come out of the woodwork this year to seize upon the confusion of the pandemic, posing as everything from the government to trusted brands to try to convince people to part with their money. This article from Money helps you identify their methods and avoid any scams that might come your way.

What it Means When Financial Planners Say You Should Pay Off 'High-Interest Debt' Before Saving

Business Insider gives us an explanation of why financial planners recommend that high-interest debt should be paid off before saving extensively. This piece will help you understand your interest rate and determine whether it is higher than what you might earn by saving or investing, breaking down precisely when you need to prioritize your debt over your savings plan.

6 Ways To Close A Cold Call Every Time

Even those who are not in sales will have to use a sales technique every once in a while. Cold call skills might come in handy at many points in your career, and it can give you an edge to keep them sharp. Check out this Forbes guide on how to close a cold call for advice on how to hone these skills.

The Biggest Money Mistakes People Make in a Recession

The Wall Street Journal asked financial experts, academics, and researchers about the most common mistakes they see in a recession and how people can avoid them. Read this piece for valuable insight on what to do with emergency savings, how often to check your credit score, and other habits to be mindful of in an economic downturn.

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

Financial Friday Round-Up: September 7 - September 11, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: August 31 - September 4, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: August 24 - August 28, 2020

Industry Insights: Life Insurance Awareness Month Edition

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, so for this edition of Industry Insights, we will be providing links to some of the best LIAM content and resources from around the web. Similar to our Financial Friday Round-Up posts, below is a collection of webpages where you will find everything you need to celebrate LIAM, from social media post templates to downloadable flyers to useful responses to client questions.

Life Happens: Life Insurance Awareness Month is Now

Life Happens is at the forefront of the Life Insurance Awareness Month campaign, and there is no better jumping-off point for resources than their own LIAM page. This year’s theme is “Reality Check” in a year where a pandemic has provided sobering proof of the need to talk about life insurance now more than ever. Use this page for unique resources to share with clients, such as videos, graphics, social media cover photos, and flyers.

LIMRA: Life Insurance Awareness Month

LIMRA conducts surveys and other research into the insurance industry and consumers’ relationships with insurance. This gives them a unique position during LIAM and their page is essential for insight into the state of the industry this September. For example, their research reveals that 46% of Americans are uninsured today, even as the pandemic has changed many aspects of our daily lives. Use this page for research reports like LIMRA’s Facts About Life and other campaign resources that keep you well-informed on the industry.

Life Insurance Awareness Month: What Employers Need to Know

This post from Benefits Pro focuses on the many advantages of including group life insurance policies in an employer’s benefits package. LIAM resources tend to be directed toward individuals and families, making resources directed toward employers all the more essential, especially in the wake of this year’s toll on the public’s work life. Use this page to brush up on the best way to approach employers about setting up group life insurance.

Shareable Content for Agents

North American has set up this webpage — similar to our own back-office version — where you can access social media posts, blog content, videos, flyers, and other tools to bolster your social media presence in September and help you expand your reach to clients and prospects about life insurance.

'Call It Love Insurance': Life Insurance Awareness Month 2020 Begins

Think Advisor wrote this informative article on LIAM that brings together statistics, outreach efforts, and social media engagement to give a fuller picture of the movement. This piece contains many useful facts on life insurance as well as links to social engagement and Twitter conversations like the #liam20chats thread.

Why Life Insurance is More Important than Ever

Modern Woodmen is providing a unique LIAM resource this year that lays out different ways you can address the public’s perceptions about life insurance — perceptions like, “It’s too expensive,” and “I’m too young to need it.” For each of these beliefs, the article provides the reality of the situation and a recommendation for how best to respond, making this a creative way to celebrate Life Insurance Awareness Month by correcting the public record.

Ask Our Leaders: EFC Javier Rodriguez on Annual Reviews

We here at First Financial Security, Inc. are starting a new blog column to give field leaders a platform to impart their wisdom on all our agents. We ask leaders how they maintain success, the best ways to stay motivated and other topics of interest to the field. Welcome to a new series called Ask Our Leaders.

Last month, Executive Field Chairman Javier Rodriguez took time during a Champions Club call to give us advice on how to keep up with annual reviews and use them to connect and check in with your clients. We caught up with him afterward to ask him to elaborate on his presentation.

What advice do you have on staying successful in a turbulent year like 2020?

Javier: The key to succeeding in any year is staying in touch with your clients. For example, National Life Group just paid out its first COVID-19 death benefit a few weeks ago. This is really big news, so I have been using it as an opportunity to call every client I have to check in on them. I ask how they are doing and tell them the story, then I see if they need any coverage changes or have any questions for me.

Do you have any other events or moments you use to check in on your clients?

Javier: I talked during the Champions Club call about how the annual review is the most important time to get in touch with people — this is a built-in, recurring time in every client’s policy that’s the perfect chance to call them, but some agents still don’t reach out. Everyone should be keeping track of when policy reviews are approaching and using this opportunity to show the client that they are looking out for their interests.

We hold an FFS Business Opportunity Presentation not only to present the benefits of the FFS opportunity to prospects but also to resell the dream to existing agents. It’s there to remind them why they joined in the first place, and the same is true of events. The annual review holds the same function, and not just to show clients the numbers but also to remind them of why they got the policy in the first place — for their kids, their grandkids, their legacy, and for living benefits.

Do you have a system for staying on top of annual reviews?

Javier: Spreadsheets are your best friend throughout this whole process. First, you have to know who needs a call, which starts by gathering clients that have an upcoming review or have increased activity in their account. You find this information through the carriers. Company log in portals, such as National Life Group's portal, often give you phone numbers and email lists that you can export.

Once you’ve gathered this client list, start by calling anyone who has increased activity or recent premium increases. Always open the call by asking them how they’ve been doing. First and foremost, you are there to give them your time and check in on them. Then, resell them on why they got their policy in the first place — this will help get them to schedule their review. Tell them you have an important tool that can help their family as well, then bring an Emergency Binder as a gift to the meeting. This is how you can lead by giving.

What other advice do you have for agents right now?

Javier: Staying productive is important, but it’s not all about being busy. I have a saying, “You can be busy and not be in business. You can be busy and not be profitable.” Instead of focusing on being busy, I say focus on staying connected with clients. People tend to say we’re in this to make money and help people, but I urge everyone to flip that around — we should be helping people first and then making money.

Check out our recent post on Life Insurance Awareness Month to see why 2020 is the year we need life insurance the most.

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Financial Friday Round-Up: September 7 – September 11, 2020

Every week, our Financial Friday Round-Up compiles the best things to read, watch, or listen to regarding finance on the web. The articles below include a guide to creating a lifelong income, a catalog of the best modems for at-home work, and an investigation into the next generation of entrepreneurs.

In Search of the Next 1000: The Entrepreneurs Creating Their Own American Dreams

Forbes has started an initiative to highlight the achievements of the next generation of entrepreneurs, focusing especially on under-represented communities, to provide inspiration for overachievers around the country. Read this announcement of the project for what to look forward to in the Next 1000 project.

How to Create Income for Life

This guide from Kiplinger gives readers a rundown of their best options for keeping up a steady stream of income even in times of uncertainty. Read more on how and when to tap your accounts, how to add financial buffers, and which buckets you should be filling.

The Best Modems and Routers for Your Money

There is no headache quite like having your WiFi act up in the middle of an important video call with a client or supervisor. Money has pulled together some of the best modems on the market according to IT professionals so you hopefully never have to worry about garbled audio or frozen video during your meetings again.

Citigroup's Jane Fraser to Succeed Michael Corbat as CEO

Historic news came on Wall Street this week as Jane Fraser was chosen to succeed Citigroup’s president to become the first female CEO of a major bank. Read this Wall Street Journal report for more information on this milestone for the financial world.

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

Financial Friday Round-Up: August 31 - September 4, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: August 24 - August 28, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: August 17 - August 21, 2020

Five Types of Documents to Keep in Your Emergency Binder

Confidence comes from being prepared. Readiness is important for protecting our finances, our family, and ourselves. That is why it is important to keep an Emergency Binder—a group of documents in an accessible location in case you or a family member becomes incapacitated. If you are unable to provide important information like birth certificates, insurance, and other financial accounts, this binder will ensure that a family member can find everything they need to settle affairs quickly.

This can be a difficult conversation—no one likes to talk about death or illness—but an important one to have to make sure your family can help each other in times of need. Having a collection of your important documents that they can easily access will give them a road map in an emergency. This keeps them from having to play detective on top of an already emotional situation.

This binder is best in both physical and digital form—gather copies of the documents by hand, then scan them with a smartphone or scanner to have them ready in either form. Just be sure the digital file is in a secure but accessible location as well. Here are some things you should include in your binder:

  • Personal Documents:
    • Birth certificate.
    • Social Security card.
    • Driver’s license.
    • Passport.
    • Marriage certificate.
    • Divorce paperwork.
    • Adoption paperwork.
    • Immigration documentation.
  • Medical Information:
    • Health insurance information.
    • Names of physicians.
    • Medical records.
    • Living will.
  • Financial Information:
    • List of banking accounts.
    • Loan information.
    • Credit cards.
    • Utilities.
    • Memberships & subscriptions.
    • Investments.
    • Other insurance information.
    • Retirement accounts.
    • Property information.
  • Additional information:
    • Safety deposit boxes & storage.
    • Vehicle information.
    • Personal effects.
    • Employer or military information.
    • Burial & obituary wishes.
    • Passwords for online accounts.
    • Memorial services.
  • Personal wishes:
    • Include a section to write what you wish to pass on to your family in the form of possessions, ideas, hopes, requests, or memories. This will be a chance to impart some final words that you may not have time to say if the unexpected were to happen.

Once you have assembled your Emergency Binder, it is helpful to run at least one Financial Emergency Drill. This is a brief exercise that goes through the motions necessary to find the Emergency Binder in case you become incapacitated. Just as you would run a fire drill to practice the safest way to exit a burning building, a Financial Emergency Drill will ensure everyone in your family knows what to do in an emergency.

If you find gathering everything listed above to be a monumental task, remember that even a slim Emergency Binder is better than none. Gather a dozen or so of the most important documents as soon as you can so you at least have something to work with when the time comes.

If you are looking for help on assembling a binder or holding a drill, watch this video from our Focus on YOUR Money webinar series for more information. Remember, the Emergency Binder is just one piece of your life insurance plan—connect with one of our agents today to discuss other policies and features that can protect your family’s financial security in times of need.

Check out our other posts about financial literacy and holding annual financial reviews.

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