Working From Home

When the COVID-19 lockdowns reached their peak, at-home workers across America turned to Zoom meetings to get things done. The efficiency increases within these companies and the response of their home-bound employees have not gone unnoticed. Many companies are seriously considering (or firmly planning) “Zoom forever” even after the pandemic has passed. And surprisingly, the majority of workers are okay with this!

Working from home has its advantages: money saved on restaurants, parking, Uber rides, gasoline, clothing and daycare. Just roll out of bed, look good from the waist up for Zoom, work in socks, play with your kids, and graze from the fridge at will. Then there’s taking a mid-day bike ride, and “not available” days just for yourself or with friends because keeping in touch with the office is a text message or cellphone call away.

But for too many, there’s loneliness. When humans spend too much time alone we can begin to question or doubt our adequacy for accomplishment or the quality of our relationships. It’s human to desire an emotional attachment or connection with others. When we lack that emotional support, we can feel empty and lonely.

Feelings of loneliness can affect our physical and mental well-being. It can cause us to hang back from conversation or even withdraw during social events. Loneliness gives rise to depression and a feeling that we are misunderstood or disliked. This gives rise to insecurity, self-doubt, negative thoughts, and increasing isolation.

According to a Gallup poll in January 2021, 56% of U.S. workers always or sometimes worked from home, and by April it was 70%. Today, it’s more like 33% “always” working from home, but the poll says that 44% prefer to work from home and 39% want to work at the office. It seems that convenience trumps the commute.

How will this last year change the landscape of small business? What long term effects could it have on our employees’ mental health? No one is sure, but awareness is a good place to start. Bottom line is that federal law entitles all employees to a safe workplace, making the coming months very interesting to watch.

Spring Cleaning Your Finances

April is National Financial Literacy Month, a 30-day celebration of learning and sharing to promote financial literacy in America. Okay, that sounds good, but what is financial literacy?

Financial literacy is having the ability to understand and effectively use financial skills to manage the money you earn, budget expenses, and invest for the future. These are the basic building blocks of financial wellness and security and can be learned at any age.

Teaching financial skills to your children is as important as teaching a baby not to touch a hot stove, a pre-schooler how to tie a shoe, a grade-schooler how to have good manners, and a teen how to develop and distinguish meaningful personal relationships. Children with strong financial skills will lead happier, more stable lives. A child’s best teacher is your good example.

And have we mentioned that it is April? Yes, we have. And is April spring-cleaning month in Ohio? Yes it is! So we thought we’d share some ideas for spring cleaning your finances.

  1. Organize your financial files, whether paper or electronic. If paper, run through a document scanner; upload the electronic files to 2 separate external hard drives that you then store in separate places, in case you lose one. 
  2. Write down your short- and long-term financial goals. Check your aspirations against your emergency funds, rate of savings, investment returns, and other financial matters until you have a clear, honest appraisal of your financial future.
  3. Make a budget (I know it’s so hard; but it’s really important) and to make it easier, think of it as a “clever method of designing your lifestyle”.
  4. Review all your recurring expenses; include things you might lose track of, like club dues, subscriptions, and anything that you download to a device that resembles a phone, tablet, computer, or TV. Cancel what you don’t need and be sure what you must keep is correctly priced.
  5. Review your retirement planning. No one but you and your family care about this, so you have to take the initiative to verify that you’re on the right track for the future you visualize today.
  6. If you got a tax refund last year, or if you owed more than you were comfortable owing, now is the time to adjust your income tax withholding with your employer or with your tax professional.
  7. We hate to remind you, but you’re a year older and there may have been changes in your family and your health situations. Make sure your health insurance coverage is correct for this phase of your and your family’s life.
  8. Make saving automatic. If you don’t, there’s always a reason not to save (the baby needs new shoes, daddy needs new wheels, mom needs a kitchen makeover). 
  9. Call us if you need help. 

So what about teaching those kids? Forbes Advisor offers an excellent resource for adults who want to help teach kids about family budgets, saving accounts, good money habits, authorizing kids to use your credit card, and teaching teens about borrowing and paying back loans.

DLMoneyMatters wants you to spend more time doing the things you love while still having the basic building blocks of financial wellness and security in place. Let us know how we can help.

Become a Better Listener

Malcolm Forbes was an American sailor, balloonist, motorcyclist, and entrepreneur-by-inheritance. This outspoken owner of Forbes Magazine once said, 

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” 

We all listen, but do we really listen well? It’s been said that good listening is much more than staying silent when the other person talks. It’s being present in the moment, in the here and now. It is not thinking about what we will say in response. 

Have you ever been to a business event where a moderator passes the microphone around the room for introductions? If so, did you attentively listen to each introduction, or were you silently preparing for you own?

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Will Rogers

The human tendency is to move toward people who listen to us, and away from those who talk only about themselves. So if you want to be remembered, become a good listener! Practice staying in the moment and maintaining eye-to-eye contact. Turn toward your speaker and actively listen. 

Listening, really listening, requires a decision on our part to care what someone else has to say and accept their words with an open mind and without premature judgement. It’s so easy to think to ourselves, “I would have done that differently” or “I see that differently” — but in those moments we are no longer listening; we are unable to empathize or attempt to understand another point of view.

A good listener is more likely to be successful. Bernard Baruch, American financier and statesman, offered this advice:

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”

We can challenge ourselves to embrace listening as a key part of how we operate, and we can practice-to-perfection active listening until it runs deep into who we are, what we do, and how we do it.