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From the Desk Of: Tips for Financial Success

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By Cy White, Featured image by Giorgio Trovato, Nikki Graham photo courtesy of Nikki Graham.

Bank of America’s Austin market president, Nikki Graham, gives tips on achieving financial success even in a pandemic.

If there’s one thing Nikki Graham knows, it’s financial success. Her experience as the Austin market president of Bank of America proves she has the insight and intellect to steer everyday citizen and business alike in the right direction to the financial autonomy they seek. Furthermore, as the president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, she certainly has a finger on the pulse of Austin’s economic heartbeat. Many still feel the sting of an unprecedented pandemic that wreaked havoc on Austin’s economy. Nikki Graham not only shares advice on how to regain control over your finances, but also how to turn that into incredible financial success.

Start early.

Not every 401(k) plan allows new employees to begin contributing right away. Some companies might make you wait two, three or even 12 months after you’re hired. Make sure to check with your employer’s plan administrator if there’s a waiting period. My first job was in Washington, D.C., making less than $17,000 a year, but I still participated in the company 401(k). It’s incredible how much these dollars add up over time.

Have clear goals.

Whether that goal is a home of your own, starting a business or a career change, having a financial plan is critical to making it happen. It all starts with creating a budget. Identify the amount of money you have coming in. Subtract your deductions to get your net income. Track your spending and include everything. Set your goals. Short-term goals should take no longer than a year to achieve. Long-term goals, such as saving for retirement or your child’s education, may take years to reach. Make a plan and adjust for wants versus needs. Make adjustments and review your budget regularly. Leverage digital tools your bank may offer to help you stay on track, such as Bank of America’s Spending & Budgeting Tool or Life Plan to help you prioritize your financial goals and understand steps toward achieving them.

Build philanthropy into your plan.

Not only are women more likely than men to give to charity and volunteer. Their high level of engagement with the organizations and causes they support is one reason women also report a higher level of personal satisfaction and fulfillment from charitable giving. It might just be $10 to the PTA. $100 a paycheck to United Way. Participation in Impact Austin or a donation to a local nonprofit of choice. Regardless of how you do it, giving back to organizations that are meeting our community’s needs is essential to helping Central Texas thrive.

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Be prepared.

My father’s death at the age of 27 influenced my mother’s views on money, and that influenced me. I know there’s a lot of talk about borrowing from friends and family. My mom would let you borrow, but she charged interest. Twenty-three percent of Americans reported that a lack of emergency savings was their biggest financial regret. You want to have a fully funded emergency fund. If something like the pandemic happens again, you want to make sure you and your family can survive with three to six months of savings to cover expenses. Now that many of us are working from home, it’s a great time to save what you would have spent on dry cleaning, gas and going out for lunch.

Consult an advisor.

Retirement may be decades away, but it’s never too early to start investing, even just a small amount at a time. The best advisor might not be your best friend from high school or your neighbor. Many banks, including ours, have financial advisors available to help at their locations. It’s important to interview advisors, ask questions and find someone you will be able to trust with your money.


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