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

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Jeffrey T. Dobyns


President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS 

Jeffrey T. Dobyns

President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS

Beyond crunching numbers and investment strategies, at SageSpring, we’re about building relationships. When you encounter Founder & President of SageSpring, Jeff Dobyns, it’s easy to understand why this is at the very heart of who we are as a firm. You won’t find stuffy formalities with Jeff; instead, you can expect to find him sharing a warm smile, communicating a compelling vision, or patiently untangling life’s complex challenges with clients. He believes in truly getting to know clients, understanding their aspirations and priorities, and navigating their financial plans with a tailored, comprehensive approach. Our team members have often been caught taking notes on Jeff’s effortless relationship skills from a distance, and we admire them for striving to learn from one of the best. 

Jeff’s financial expertise and wisdom are the perfect match to his innate people skills. Jeff holds the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification, Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChLU®) designations, and has held executive positions with financial planning firms for more than two decades. 

His dedication extends beyond the office to the boardroom and the local community, where Jeff is passionate about giving back. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Men of Valor, a prison ministry and mentoring program. Jeff also serves on the board of Send Musicians to Prison, which shares hope, healing and restoration with the imprisoned through musicians & artists. Jeff actively supports other initiatives in the community by sitting on the board of The Signatry of Middle Tennessee and the Halftime Institute of Nashville. 

Witnessing his four children, Gracyn, Hunter, Tanner, and Logan, excel on the field is almost just as rewarding, if not more, than celebrating the victories of seeing his clients overcome obstacles and build wealth. Spending weekends boating on the lake, hiking mountain trails, and fishing with his family are the moments Jeff cherishes most. It’s this grounded perspective that reveals the true meaning of wealth for Jeff: not just numbers on a page, but the freedom to create experiences that enrich your life and the lives of those you love. When you choose the Dobyns McMillin Wealth Team, you choose more than financial expertise. You choose a partner who champions your dreams, celebrates your victories, and walks besides you on the path to achieving your unique goals.

**Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM, 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.