Smart Financial Moves

Every generation, from Gen Z to the baby boomers, have some savvy financial maneuvers at their disposal to potentially reap major rewards in the future.  

Sean Kouplen, chairman and CEO of Tulsa-based Regent Bank, says that “for these generations, the key is to pay down debt and diversify your investments.  I always recommend six months of income in a savings account for rainy days; match your company’s 401-K; pay down debt with higher interest rates; and then diversity your investments according to your risk tolerance.”

It’s no surprise that Gen Z is hugely influenced by social media when it comes to saving, borrowing and thinking about retirement. A July 2021 survey by Motley Fool – a private financial and investing advice company – found that 91% of investors from 18-24 use social media for investment advice over other sources like podcasts, friends and family, traditional investing websites, television, newspapers or blogs.

According to the AARP, a wave of Generation X is turning 50 and older this year, and is among the most financially stressed, as the “sandwich” generation taking care of both their own children and aging parents. They also tend to have the most debt.

Aging brings different challenges and rewards as equity builds and early moves bear fruit.

“As we get older, hopefully debt becomes less of an issue and safety becomes more of a priority,” says Kouplen. “I would recommend that we all play on relying on Social Security less as we retire; so it’s important that we develop a savings and investment play to provide for our needs after retirement.” 

Jobs in Finance

Are you considering a career in banking or finance? Whether as a financial advisor, investment or commercial banker, public accountant or even venture capitalist, there are several ways to make your fiscal career dreams a reality.  

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Bryan D. Cain, president and CEO of First National Bank and Trust Co., says that community banks are a great option for those looking to get a foot in the door of the finance realm. 

“Community banking is a strong and stable industry that is directly tied to the communities they serve,” he says. “When you work for a community bank, you can feel confident that the bank does everything they can to make the community successful. From donating to local schools and charities to helping businesses thrive, community banks are an important industry that needs top talent that is willing to give back.”

Cain offers these answers to common questions, and some considerations for those pondering a career in finance:

Do I have to be good at math? Not necessarily; there are a lot of departments and roles within the bank where you do not have to be a math whiz. Many roles can apply different skill sets and education. 

Are there opportunities for advancement? Yes – banking is a great industry to start an entry-level job, such as a teller, and work your way up. Learning about the different departments can help round out your career experience. 

Is it ever too late to start in the industry? No. You can always start in banking. All you need is a great attitude and a willingness to learn.

What are the benefits of being in the banking sector?Many people like being in banking because of the stability of the industry and the opportunity to have federal holidays off. 

When to Invest 

If you’re considering an investment, Kouplen says, it’s first important to “understand what you are investing in, and the company should have strong, long-term fundamentals. You can invest in riskier companies or investments, but make sure it’s money you can afford to lose.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission advises investors to look for red flags before investing, such as aggressive sellers and any unlicensed investment professionals, or those with exaggerated or false credentials. Smart investors ask many questions and avoid so-called ‘risk-free offers’ that sound too good to be true. 

Other tips are to avoid any pressure to invest quickly and not responding to unsolicited pitches seeking your personal details. Ask if the seller is licensed and if the investment is registered. Before investing, make sure you have a resource for questions such as the SEC or the state securities regulator. Research any opportunity thoroughly before investment, including conducting a background check at investor.gov.


Creating and
Managing a Budget

When it comes to budgeting, the combination of good intentions and smart strategy can result in long-term financial success. Experts offer various tips such as getting a budgeting buddy to keep you accountable or trying the all cash “diet” to ensure you don’t spend more than you don’t have.   

Chandler Riggs, a VP financial consultant with Tulsa’s Fidelity Investments, offers some tips.

“Fidelity’s ‘50-15-5’ budgeting rule of thumb can be a great place to start thinking about how you’ll meet monthly expenses while also saving for future goals, whether they’re long-term, like retirement or college, or shorter term, like a home or car,” she says. This rule of thumb offers three bits of advice: allocate no more than 50% of take-home pay to essential expenses; save 15% of pre-tax income for retirement; and save 5% of take-home pay for unplanned expenses.

“Once you know where your money is going each month, and how much you plan to save for each goal, it may help to automate the savings – for example, through monthly contributions to a retirement account, if that’s your primary long-term goal,” she says. “That will help you put the money aside without being tempted to spend it elsewhere when it hits your bank account. 

“It’s also important to understand the different types of accounts that could help with your goals; for example, whether a Roth IRA or traditional IRA is best for your situation if you’re saving for retirement.”   


Credit Score

  • Pull your own credit report and see your current score.
  • Investigate and dispute any discrepancies if necessary.
  • When disputing, contact any or all three of the major credit bureaus, either online or on the phone: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  All three have dispute departments to assist consumers.
  • Pay down on card balances to optimize your credit utilization ratio.
  • Consolidate credit card debt and transfer to lower interest rate options where possible.
  • Consider a debt consolidation loan only if needed, and avoid any new loan applications.
  • Pay bills on time.

Expert Tips

We all want to maximize our money motivation, and Kouplen offers some tips to get there.

“My two big tips on financial health are to always maintain a budget and never live above your means,” he says. “Everything else is pretty easy if you do those two things. 

“My next two tips are never invest in anything you don’t understand and always maintain six months of income in a rainy day fund, because we never know when an unexpected job loss or financial challenge could occur.”