Diane Gilbert, Director of Budgeting at VUMC, discusses the most important components of financial health, the steps we should take to manage our financial health, and the many benefits Vanderbilt offers faculty and staff to improve financial health.
Bridgette Butler: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt Health and Wellness wellcast. I am Bridgette Butler with Health Plus. We are in tax season and that means that quite a few people will be thinking about their finances and their financial health. Today, speaking about financial health with me is Diane Gilbert, Director of Budgeting at VUMC. Welcome, Diane.
Diane Gilbert: Thank you.
Bridgette Butler: Diane, to start, what is financial health, and what does it look like for most people?
Diane Gilbert: I think financial health is the ability to use your income to effectively plan for current and future needs, and what that looks like to most people is just simply the ability to pay your monthly expenses and save a little bit to prepare for future expenses, and future expenses can range anywhere from saving for a new set of tires to saving for school or going on vacation and ultimately being able to save for retirement.
Bridgette Butler: What are the most important components of financial health?
Diane Gilbert: I think the most important component of financial health is knowing how much money you actually have. Once you know what you have to work with, you can begin to intentionally plan on how to spend it.
Bridgette Butler: In order to know how much money you have, and to plan to spend it, what steps might some people take to manage that financial health?
Diane Gilbert: The most useful tool in your financial toolbox should be a monthly budget. A monthly budget is simply sitting down and coming to an understanding of how much money you have coming in every month and how much you have to spend and where you spend it. If you list every expense you have, and then make sure you have a category for savings, you can compare that to your income, and a lot of people start out with their budgets and they don't have enough income to cover their expenses. So, a lot of times, that forces people to see where they need to make changes in their finances. Your "file budget" is what you produce after you review and revise every category of savings and expenses and income until you've spent every dollar on paper before the month begins. That becomes your roadmap and even your guardrails for the month of your spending.
Bridgette Butler: I like the idea of the budget being the guardrails for your spending. What benefits does Vanderbilt offer to faculty and staff to improve financial health and how can we maximize these benefits?
Diane Gilbert: I'll be honest. When I saw that I was going to do this interview, I didn't realize how many things Vanderbilt actually had available for us to use. Everyone thinks of the standard financial benefits like our health insurance, our disability insurance, our retirement planning. Everyone talks about the tuition benefit, but we also have tuition planning services that are available through EdAssist. That is the company that manages our tuition benefit. People forget that we have tuition benefit for staff members to go back to school. We also have discounted home and auto insurance that you can research online. We have personalized retirement planning services that are completely free of charge. You just make an appointment with our financial planners through the retirement plans, through Fidelity. And some of the other benefits that people forget about are in the discounted services section of the H.R. website. We've got discounts on cell phones, dry cleaning, moving services, hair salons, legal services, everything, all the way down to ballroom dancing.
Bridgette Butler: So, it sounds like there are quite a few resources that Vanderbilt has to offer, and then of course, we have to do a little bit of work on our own to make sure that we are making a budget, understanding our budget, and like you said, living within the guardrails of the budget. Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Diane. I appreciate it.