A Guide to Financial Wellness

The COVID-19 pandemic, market volatility, and increased inflation have pushed many Americans to start thinking critically about where their money is going, and how they can better prepare for the unexpected. You may be wondering, “Where do I start?” Especially in times of economic uncertainty, creating a sound financial plan can feel overwhelming. We’ve laid out some practical steps for getting started:

1. Evaluate

To begin, evaluate where your money is going. This may be an uncomfortable process, but it’s important to know how much you are spending on a regular basis, what you owe, and what adjustments you can make to help you plan for a confident financial future. This is also the first step in creating a budget. You want to make sure you are spending less than you make, and, if not, create a plan to live within your means. You may have a habit of spending more on wants, such as the latest smart phone, designer clothing, or eating out every week, rather than needs, such as a roof over your head, electricity, transportation, and groceries.

You can conduct this evaluation using a spending tracker app or by creating a spreadsheet that shows your monthly income as it compares to your monthly spending which is divided into categories (rent, utilities, transportation, entertainment, restaurants, etc).

2. Create a plan and stick to it

After taking an honest look at your current spending habits, create a realistic budget that you can stick to. As the saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.” The most critical step in helping to obtain financial wellness is planning. Plan to spend less than you make and set aside what you have leftover for savings.

3.  Build your emergency fund

As we’ve seen over the past two years, you can’t plan for everything. For that reason, an emergency fund is critical. Many professionals recommend emergency savings of three to six months’ worth of earnings to be prepared for the unexpected.

4.  Tackle debt

Some advisors suggest paying down the smallest debts first (the snowball method), while others recommend prioritizing paying off debt with the highest interest rates first. Your Southwestern Investment Group financial advisor can help you determine the method that works best for you and your individual situation. Regardless of the method you choose, it is important that you get started.

5.  Get serious about saving

Once you have a budget, an emergency fund, and a handle on your debt, it’s time to get serious about saving.

  • Include savings in your budget as a regular, necessary expense (Go a step further by setting up re-occurring transfers directly into your savings account).
  • Consider a high-yield savings account (could pay about 2-3% interest, as opposed to the average U.S. savings account’s rate of 0.5%).
  • If your employer offers a 401k, set aside a portion of your monthly income to make contributions.
  • You may be able contribute to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA for potential tax benefits and optimize your retirement savings.

Your financial well-being is important to us, and we would love to walk alongside you to make sure you feel secure and safe with your finances. Reach out to an advisor today

Jeffrey Dobyns
Jeffrey T. Dobyns


President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS 

Jeffrey T. Dobyns

President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS

Jeff Dobyns has enjoyed extraordinary success providing comprehensive financial planning to retirees, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and executives by taking the time to truly know his clients, understand their goals and develop and execute their ongoing, strategic, financial plans.

Jeff earned his finance degree in business administration from Ohio University and has held executive positions with financial planning firms for more than two decades. After serving as Vice President of Investments of Lykins Financial Group, CPA’s, in his hometown of Westerville, Ohio, Jeff moved to Nashville, Tennessee to found SageSpring Wealth Partners in 2002. As its President, Jeff has led SageSpring to remarkable success, holding the distinction of being one of Raymond James’ top independent contractor offices, and a member of its Chairman’s Council*, every year since 2008.

Jeff’s true calling, however, is working directly with clients, helping them plan their financial futures in a manner that aligns with their values and helps provide them with financial confidence. To help meet these goals, Jeff leads the team of Dobyns Wealth Team and also incorporates the expertise of attorneys, accountants and other professionals to provide quality financial, tax and estate planning, and ongoing asset and risk management.

As independent advisory businesses, neither SageSpring Wealth Partners nor Dobyns Wealth Team hold any assets on behalf of clients, with such custodial and brokerage services being provided by Raymond James. As a leader in wealth management, Raymond James has an exemplary reputation and today serves more than $930 billion in client assets through 8,200 financial advisors worldwide (as of 9/30/2020).

In order to meet the highest standards of professionalism and ethics in the industry, Jeff is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM practitioner**, a Chartered Life Underwriter and a Chartered Financial Consultant. Jeff is also a participant of the Dave Ramsey SmartVestor program.

Jeff’s work and personal life are both guided by his faith and the Christian principles of honesty, generosity, compassion, and integrity. Accordingly, Jeff devotes considerable time and resources to a number of causes, including serving as a board member of Men of Valor, a prison ministry and mentoring program. He is also on the advisory board of The Signatry of Middle Tennessee, which works with families to increase their charitable giving to their favorite causes. Additionally, Jeff is on the advisory board for Halftime Institute, an organization that coaches marketplace leaders to discern and engage in their life purpose. Lastly, Jeff serves on the board of the Legacy Center of Nashville, a collaboration of independent coaching resources. He is a past board member of Porter’s Call, a Nashville charity that provides free counseling for musicians and their families, and the Martha O’Bryan Center, which empowers those in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment, and fellowship.

Jeff and his wife, Amy, are raising their family in Brentwood where they are members of the Brentwood Baptist Church, and their children, Gracyn, Hunter, and twins Tanner and Logan, attend the Christ Presbyterian Academy. For recreation, Jeff enjoys hunting, fishing and just being outdoors.

* Membership is based on prior fiscal year production. Re-qualification is required annually.

**Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

SmartVestor is an advertising and referral service for investing professionals (“SmartVestor Pros”) operated by The Lampo Group, LLC d/b/a Ramsey Solutions (“Ramsey Solutions”). Pursuant to an arrangement between Ramsey Solutions, SageSpring Wealth Partners and your advisor, your advisor pays Ramsey Solutions a flat monthly fee to: (a) be a SmartVestor Pro, (b) advertise services through the SmartVestor website, and (c) receive client referrals in the form of an initial introduction to interested consumers who are located in your advisor’s Pros geographic region. SageSpring Wealth Partners does not endorse and are not affiliated with Ramsey Solutions, except with respect to the arrangement described above, and neither Ramsey Solutions nor its agents are officers or employees of SageSpring Wealth Partners. Further, neither Ramsey Solutions nor its agents are authorized to provide investment advice or act in any way on behalf of SageSpring Wealth Partners, except in connection with providing your contact information to your advisor.

Ramsey Solutions’ relationship and agreement is between SageSpring Wealth Partners only. Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. is not affiliated with the solicitor arrangement between Ramsey Solutions and SageSpring Wealth Partners.

Raymond James is not affiliated with any of the organizations mentioned above.