Is Financial Wellness Part of the Discussion at Your Department?


FinancialCop Nick Daugherty

The emphasis on officer wellness has been all the buzz in law enforcement. We are doing great work teaching our first responders how to eat better, get in shape, and work on their mental fitness. But the single biggest aspect of wellness that is overlooked is financial wellness. That taboo subject you’re not supposed to talk about, right? That’s how I was raised and that’s largely why I got in all kinds of the trouble with money as I came into law enforcement.

Overtime is Not a Long-Term Solution

When it came to money as a young adult, I did stupid with lots of zeros at the end of it. Who hasn’t right? It’s almost a rite of passage to make money mistakes, but I had done it to the tune of building over $80,000 in debt, most of which was tied up in cars and a $21,000 car audio system (no, $21,000 is not a typo).

As a young officer I was tired. Tired of working overtime, and tired because I had to work to just to pay the bills. I was living paycheck to paycheck, praying I wouldn’t get hurt and put on light duty so I could keep working crazy amounts of overtime.

A Way Out of Debt

I knew I had to figure out a way to dig myself out of debt. I dedicated my time to not only learning the most effective way to pay off all my debt, but the proper way to live a debt free lifestyle and how to implement all of this into my life. Utilizing Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps method from his book, “Total Money Makeover,” I paid off all $80,000 in consumer debt over 24 months.

Close your eyes and dream with me for a second. Picture that in your life. No credit card payments, car payments, student loans, or any consumer debt at all. Follow that up with the safety blanket of having six months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund. Imagine overcoming all your financial woes and being able to build financial strength. It’s possible and it’s never too late to start.

Financial Wellness for the Department

It’s time we as a profession start focusing on our own financial wellness and add that to the “officer wellness” discussion.

After achieving that pinnacle, I set out to spread what I had learned to any officer that would listen to me, and even some that wouldn’t. I became a Dave Ramsey certified master financial coach* and began working with officers in financial crisis, preaching what I had learned.

I was fortunate to work for a very progressive chief, Steve Dye of the Grand Prairie Police Department. He heard about the “financial” nerd downstairs and I was tasked to design a class for cops on how to handle their finances and start winning with money. We had a vision of a department full of financially fit officers that were focused on doing their job while not worrying about how to pay the bills at home.

Let’s look at some scary numbers:

  • 79% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck according to a study by CareerBuilder (I think cops are worse, especially those of us that are civil service or union agencies).
  • 62% of American’s have less than $1,000 in savings and 21% don’t have any savings. (The Motley Fool)
  • Half of Americans spend all or more money than they earn (just look out in your employee parking lot at all those fancy cars and lifted trucks out there).
  • American’s owe over $13 Trillion in debt, with over $1 Trillion in credit card debt and $1.1 Trillion in auto loans. (Business Insider)

Think about that and let it sink in. How much more productive, and safer could you be if you weren’t worrying about money?

Change Your Financial Situation

Now, what are you doing to change your financial situation? There are a ton of resources out there that can help you change your financial course.

It starts with looking inwards at yourself. The hard truth is that if you’re struggling with money, you’re the problem. But this is actually a good thing because you’re also the solution. The next step is harder. It’s time to start doing that dreaded “B” word none of us really like – budget. Every dollar has a purpose and a place before the month begins. Make your money work for you so it stops working against you!

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The information given herein is taken from sources that IFP Advisors, LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), IFP Securities LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), and it advisors believe to be reliable, but it is not guaranteed by us as to accuracy or completeness. This is for informational purposes only and in no event should be construed as an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or products. Please consult your tax and/or legal advisor before implementing any tax and/or legal related strategies mentioned in this publication as IFP does not provide tax and/or legal advice. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation, or needs of individual investors. Investment advice offered through IFP Advisors, LLC, d/b/a Independent Financial Partners (IFP), a Registered Investment Adviser.  IFP and Serve & Protect Financial Texas are not affiliated.

About Nick Daugherty

Nick Daugherty began his career with the Grand Prairie Police Department (GPPD) in 2003 serving as a patrol officer, school resource officer, and underage alcohol and drug task force officer. In 2012 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant where he served as a patrol sergeant, field training supervisor, fleet coordinator, criminal intelligence unit sergeant. Additionally, Nick holds a Master Peace Officer certification and a TCOLE instructor’s certificate. He semi-retired in August of 2017 and continues to serve as a reserve officer for GPPD. During his career he was awarded numerous honors and accommodations, including a lifesaving award, as well as being named officer of the month 4 times, Jim Thorne Officer of the year 2 times, and Sgt. Gregory Hunter supervisor of the year award.

Nick is also the president, and owner of Serve & Protect Financial Texas, a full-service financial firm for first responders, run by first responders (CRD#6697256) as well as being a licensed life insurance agent. Additionally, he has completed classes through Ken Zahn’s Certified Financial Planning professional education program.

Nick also serves in various volunteer capacities nationally including the nonprofit as an “A-Team” member as a financial wellness coordinator and crisis coach along with serving on the Texas Police Chief Association Officer Suicide Committee, focusing on the financial wellness impact in regards to officer suicide / PTSD.