Dr. Nicole Garner Scott is a Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual. She takes a unique approach in her practice by helping people achieve financial security through holistic planning.
She is also a sought after Money Coach, Certified Financial Educator, speaker, author and business woman.
Nicole received her undergraduate degree from Georgia State University, her MBA in Digital Entrepreneurship and awarded an honorary doctorate recognized for her work in business.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Emergency fund
- Strategies to bulk up your emergency funds
- Smart financial moves to help maximize tax refunds
- Smart ways to use your tax refund
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:25] Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, Onpay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Nicole Garner Scott with Northwestern Mutual. Welcome.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:00:44] Hi, how are you?
Lee Kantor: [00:00:45] I am doing well. I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. For the people who aren’t familiar, can you share a little bit about Northwestern Mutual, how you serving folks?
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:00:53] Yes, I sure can. Well, thank you so much, Lee, for having me on. Very excited to talk with you today. Just a little bit about Northwestern Mutual. We have an office right here in Atlanta, Georgia. We’re in the Buckhead area. But the company itself is national, has been around for over 100 years. And really, you can think of Northwestern when you’re wanting to put your financial plan together from an integrative perspective. So I would say Northwestern really specializes in helping you retain your wealth grow and sustain your wealth. And that’s really our key principles of how we work with our clientele.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:30] So what is typically the point of origination? Like, where does a person like is a person typically going through something? Does an event occur where they’re like, You know what, I better get in contact with the Northwestern Mutual folks because I have this challenge? Or is this something that just kind of organically happens over time?
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:01:51] I would say it’s a multitude. Definitely different areas bring people into the fold. So one that could be if there’s something that’s happened in your life that’s alerting you to wanting to have things more together. So let’s say that you have lost a loved one or you’re taking care of aging parents or things of that nature, and you’re really realizing that you need to have the proper protections in place so that your own children don’t go through that or that you’re able to mitigate what’s transpiring. That that’s usually a reason people reach out. Another is when there’s economic times such as this, having, you know, the reliance of a true professional team to help navigate you through these areas becomes very important. And then some people, just overall, they have very intent goals where they’re wanting to go and where they want to end up and second half of life and just don’t know how to get there. And even though there’s a lot of information disseminating, you know, you can Google anything at this point or YouTube university, but how to make it all make sense and make it applicable to their life starts to become confusing. And so that’s when a lot of individuals lean on a financial professional really help guide them through that area. Yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:08] Can you talk a little bit more about that? Because I think that’s really important for the listener to understand just because there’s a lot of information available to you, knowing what’s relevant to you at what time usually requires some sort of professional advisor. It’s it’s very difficult to really get customized information for your particular information just based on, you know, your able ability to Google search because that isn’t your day job. You’re not spending all your time thinking about this stuff. You have your own day job and these professionals, this is what they’re doing 24 over seven.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:03:49] Mhm. Mhm. Definitely. I think when it comes to financial planning there’s a few different key factors you have to take into regard. First and foremost is everyone has a different starting point. And so when it comes to building out a financial plan and let’s say that you here’s something that’s trending in the news or you read about an investment opportunity or you look up, this is how you should be doing things or this is what you should be focusing your financial energy on. That ranges from person to person because a lot depends on where you starting, what is that, what variables are in place and where is that foundational piece that plays a large role in what’s transpiring. So definitely that then second, I would say goals are different, right? And so even though yourself and maybe your best friend Lee, maybe you’re very similar places in life, but you might want to retire, you know, right here in Georgia. And your best friend is deciding that they want a vacation home and they want to be able to travel the world. And, you know, just a few other things. And so that that final goal looks very different on your cost of living in the future and that person’s cost of living in the future. So those goals play a large role in that customization need as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:14] Yeah. And I think that as part of a good financial plan for anybody, some of the work that has to be done isn’t kind of the sexy stuff. If that gets written about in financial newspapers or blogs, you know, things like an emergency fund, you know, people don’t talk about kind of some of the blocking and tackling that people need in order to be able to weather a storm or to be able to handle that kind of unexpected emergency.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:05:44] Definitely, if it depending on the age of who’s listening. But if you remember back in I believe it was 2015, there was a lot of data that was put out just in regards to a large percentage of Americans taking out hardship withdrawals from their 401. Ks. Or, you know, you could turn on the news at any given time now and see just through the last few years there’s been so much going on. How many individuals just were basically living check to check and weren’t even really aware of it. You know, they might be doing very well in life, but when it comes to the magnitude of their expenses and what was automated coming out of their accounts, etcetera, that money dwindled down very quick. If they were in between jobs or, you know, dealing with with cutbacks with their companies and those different things. And so that emergency fund, even though it sounds so beginner and so basic, it is really one of the key foundational tools that keep people in a space where you can take care of the now you in the future, you at the same time.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:57] Now, when you’re dealing with a client, can you talk about what those initial conversations look like? Because, you know, thinking about future you for some people seems daunting that it seems like, well, I’ll get to future me when future me becomes present. Me But it’s important. It’s important to really think ahead because things do happen. A pandemic did happen. And, you know, a car breaks down unexpectedly. And to have something like an emergency fund as one of your kind of buckets you’re putting money in, it’s going to help present you at some point in time. It’s just a matter of when.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:07:39] Very, very, very true. I think that in regards to those initial conversations, really starting with getting a good handle on cash flow even, you know, for those who are doing very well and who are able to keep a lot of that cash flow in the positive, what happens is you’re not really aware of what your fixed expenses are or what’s discretionary and what it really costs to keep moving you along in the way that you feel comfortable with moving along. And so that becomes very integrated into understanding just where you are and where that emergency fund needs to be. Second off, we really take a deep dive into just what your overall goals are. And so understanding those goals become very prioritized. Prioritize in that conversation. Sometimes people think that when it comes to your financial planning, it has to be a either either or. But usually it’s an and like you can start to make sure you’re saving for your emergency fund, but also retirement at the same time and really just starting to put the right percentages of what your surplus is into those different areas. So it becomes very integrated into really understanding what is it that matters to you and then allowing your priorities to show up through how you’re handling the tool of money.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:12] And then also, isn’t it important, especially for young people to just get in the habit of putting aside money in these various places, even if it’s not a lot of money? It’s just the discipline of having a system and a process that you’re automatically kind of putting money in a variety of buckets that are going to help you down the road is a good practice to have.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:09:39] It is. And you know, many individuals, through the use of technology and apps and you know, what’s what’s available to us now, they kind of hide money from us from themselves. So previous generations, you know, parents, grandparents, etcetera, they will hide money in the physical manner. But now, because everything is so digitized and we live in such a digital world, you’re not really connecting how much you’re spending throughout the course of the day, right? So even if you are on Amazon and you went on Amazon to get one thing and next thing you have a full cart and there’s boxes coming every other day, there’s no physical connection on how much money is going out and coming in. And a lot of people are actually surprised by that. And so that’s when I say it’s a good opportunity to establish a new a new base level for yourself, a new zero. And so every time you get a little bit more in your bucket of of what you’re building and saving for yourself, then you just keep understanding what that new zero is like. You cannot go below the point of $500 and 5000, then 50,000, whatever that might be for you. But establishing that new zero, keeping that that liquidity, that liquid cash away from how it could easily be spent in a multitude of ways. So putting that in a different sub account, using a high yield savings account, which is excellent right now during these times with what you’re getting for return on that, being able to place that in just a different bucket that’s not co-mingled with what you’re spending on day in and day out.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:27] Now, sometimes in life you get a windfall and sometimes these windfalls are, you know, for a lot of people nowadays, it’s tied to maybe they got a tax refund that they didn’t anticipate and all of a sudden, wow, here comes some money. Are there any do you have any advice or recommendations for somebody who all of a sudden, you know, gets a windfall like a tax refund?
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:11:50] I do. Yeah, definitely. I feel like that’s a great time to already have some professionals surrounding you that can start to help you navigate through that. Um, and more people receive windfalls than not. So really establishing those processes, systems and people prior to is is excellent. But if that did not occur, then really understanding that with that windfall there’s certain key areas and key buckets in your life that you always want to keep top of mind. One area being retirement. Um, usually when I speak with individuals and ask, have you, have you figured out what’s that number for you to live comfortable and retirement. Most people have not sat down and really calculated that out. Um, if you take the data based on years ago, the average individual will live to 65, 66, 67 years old. But now at this point, given the advancement in health care and everything that has just come full circle, individuals are living to 90, 95, 98 is very common to see people live that long. And what we have not thought about the most is who’s paying for us to live that long. And so when you’re getting some of these windfalls, contributing to that future version of you starts to become very imperative to our company did a study, I believe, in 2022 just in regards to how much people will need to retire. And I believe that number was about 1.25 million is what most individuals would need to to be in a comfortable space. But as you can see through the news and when you’re cutting everything on that, the retirement savings rate continues to keep dropping.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:13:45] So we’re going to run into that issue of individuals outliving their money. And Lee, you made such a great point earlier when you said that people don’t tend to think about their future you because they’re just so focused on the present you. But the one thing you can do is is think about future you is going to have the same standards of life that present you have now. And the only way, the only person that future you can blame is current you if you’re not tapped into thinking about that. So definitely when you get those windfalls, being able to really think about strategic retirement contributions becomes very important. And then I would definitely say if debt is a part of what you’re what you’re wanting to eradicate, being able to get that out the way so you can really repurpose your dollars towards your goals. Um, many people have the burden of debt on them for years and years at a time, and it, it affects so many areas of you being able to future plan enjoy things as they’re coming in place those dollars in ways that your dollars will work better for you. And so those windfalls are excellent opportunities to clear out debt plan for future retirement. You beef up your emergency fund. So that’s all in place and then you pretty much insulate yourself from a lot of the uncontrollables that can happen.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:14] And then most importantly, you take advantage of one of the most powerful forces in the universe, which is compounding. And I don’t think enough people, especially young people, understand how powerful compounding is. And that’s why I think it’s so important to start investing any amount of money just in a systematic way with the advice of a professional kind of guiding you just so you get in the habit and you automate some of these tools that exist nowadays, just like your Netflix bill is getting paid automatically every month, you can pay yourself automatically every month and put it and put compounding to work for yourself if you’re if you’re planning correctly.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:15:57] Mhm. Mhm.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:15:59] Very true. Very true. Lee And, and also too in regards to um, when we’re thinking of having our money work for us and just some of that future forecasting when you’re doing it now, your earlier years in life, it’s small commitments that you make to a larger goal when you’re waiting until your later years, then you’re having to play catch up and those numbers become a lot larger and things become a lot more intense. And so if you have the blessing of getting those windfalls and if you have the blessing of getting bonuses and additional opportunities, inheritances, etcetera, thinking about how you can make those dollars continue to work for you and not dry out. Becomes a way that you’re really setting yourself up for for how you want to live in the future.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:57] Well, if somebody wants to learn more about what you have to offer or get on your calendar or have a conversation with somebody on your team, what is the best way to do that?
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:17:07] Sure. Sure. So you can go to northwestern.com. Also, if you’re interested in me directly, it would be northwestern.com backslash. Nicole Garner. Garner Just to find out more information in regards to really sitting down with a professional and starting to really organize all of this and having someone guide you through the things that you don’t know that’s coming your way. Distributions, taxation, inflation, everything that we’re hearing so much about. How does that really impact you outside of just what you can see right now? And so our team is ready to sit down and help you with that.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:50] Yeah, there are so many variables. It’s very difficult for a lay person to do this by themselves. I think especially in an area this important, you need the help of a professional and it’s definitely worth having a conversation with Nicole or somebody on her team to just learn more about the possibilities and maybe some of the things you’re not thinking about.
Nicole Garner Scott: [00:18:11] Excellent. Well, thank you, Lee.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:13] Well, thank you, Nicole. You’re doing important work, and we appreciate you. It’s such a pleasure. All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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