Marcella Mollon-Williams is a Behavioral Financial Advisor™ who co-founded Legacy Builder Group, LLC along with her business partner and brother, Mark Mollon in 2007. Mollon-Williams provided insight about how a person may improve his or her relationship with money. She is based in Bowie, Maryland.
Q: What is a behavioral financial advisor? How do you help your clients?
A: Behavioral finance is a combination of traditional finance, psychology and neuroscience. Using these areas of study, I help people manage their savings and investment behavior, thereby developing the behavior to build their legacy.
Q: How do you feel emotions are connected to financial habits?
A: One of the most familiar ways in which our emotions are tied to our financial habits is in the area of immediate gratification. For example, someone may have promised themselves that they would increase their IRA contribution this year, but their impulse spending makes it difficult to follow through with that desired action. Another area in which our emotions impact our financial habits is investing. According to numerous studies done on investment patterns over a time period, major loss and gains have very little to do with the market. What does affect outcomes in the market more than anything is your investment behavior. The management of your portfolio is simply not as important as managing your emotions and actions around your portfolio.
Q: What are two things a person can do to improve his or her finances in 2023?
A: We often think that financial change starts with money, but that is simply not the case. It starts with our mindset about money. Here are two things a person can do to improve his or her finances in 2023.
First, ask yourself and answer this question: What is my purpose for money? Money is nothing more than a tool used to acquire things you believe are important to you. If you don’t know what your purpose for money is, you will eventually find yourself misusing your tool and you will be left in a dysfunctional relationship with money. You can address this question by identifying your values. Here’s a simple method:
Create a list of all the things that are important to you (i.e., family, integrity, helping others, freedom, etc.).
Now, narrow your list down to the 10 things that resonate with you the most.
Finally, select the five most important values. These are your core values.
From there, you will begin to discover how your values give meaning to your money and begin making confident financial decisions with less regret.
Second, set S.M.A.R.T. financial goals. The more clarity you have around your financial desires, the more obtainable they are. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Whether it’s saving for a major purchase or investing for retirement, take the time to create a system, routine or strategy that makes your goal SMART.
Q: When people find themselves trying to pay off high credit card debt, is negotiating with credit providers possible? If not, what is another technique to chip away at paying off chunks of credit card debt?
A: It is always a good idea to explore your options with the credit card companies. Some companies may allow you to skip a payment or provide a lower minimum payment. If no options are available, here’s a SMART strategy. Target one card and aggressively pay it down. Pay the minimum on the other cards. It’s important to continue to pay on the other cards to maintain a positive payment history. Once you have paid off the first card, roll the aggressive payment to a second card. Continue this step until you have reached your financial goal.
Q: What are a few tips that can be implemented to raise a person’s credit score?
A: Tip 1. Hold on to your oldest card as it will help you build credit history. Sometimes it may require you to hide it from yourself. This will apply for those who are not disciplined.
Tip 2. Use your card but be disciplined. When using your credit card, spend only what you have in the bank. Such as funds for groceries, gas, etc. At the end of the month pay the balance off. This will allow you to use the funds at zero interest and build good credit.
Tip 3. Take advantage of credit card points. It is basically free money. Think of it as the credit card companies rewarding you for being disciplined.
Mollon-Williams’ website is www.marcellamwilliams.com.