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Financial Planning: There’s Humor There, So Take Advantage

March 24, 2020

**Note: click on any of the images in this post to see a larger version.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

OK, here’s a question for you:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You need to plan for retirement. Do you:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

A. Put money in your employer’s 401K plan and/or Individual Retirement Accounts

B. Assume Social Security will be enough for you to live on

C. Buy lottery tickets hoping you can fund your retirement with a big winblank vertical space, 32 pixels highthree panel illustration saving for retirement good bad ugly woman big muscles invest in 401K IRA Uncle Sam paying pennies to old man gamble scratch lottery ticket bad retirement savings plan

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI picked C, how about you? 😂

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highHere’s the story behind the above illustration.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Zions Bank, headquartered in Salt Lake City, has a great blog. Only they don’t call it a blog. They call it Stories From Our Community.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It’s a brilliant bit of marketing which humanizes their brand and gives it a very genuine, neighborly touch.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I read one of their posts called Financial Planning Strategies: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I was smiling just reading the title.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Anything with a Good-Bad-Ugly format is bound to be funny on some level. We’re already anxious to know what’s going to win the Ugly prize.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The post was concise and easy to understand. It covered four aspects of financial planning. Here are brief summaries:blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

1. Establish An Emergency Fundblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Good idea: Create an automatic bank transfer from your checking account to your savings account to occur every pay period.

Bad idea: Use your credit card for your emergency fund. It could cost you as much as 15% interest per year.

Ugly idea: Rely on payday loans which can exceed 500% interest.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

2. Purchase A Homeblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Good idea: Buy a home. The equity that grows in a home as it increases in value becomes part of your wealth.

Bad idea: Sign up for a high-end rental property. Better plan: find a modest rental and save the difference for a down payment for a home.

Ugly situation: Rent after you retire. You’ll be faced with increasing rents on a fixed income.

blank vertical space, 24 pixels high3. Create A Budgetblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Good idea: Do a unique budget each and every month. If you make $4,000 in November, have a plan for how you will use all $4,000.

Bad idea: Track past spending with Mint or Quicken– that’s like driving by looking in your rearview mirror.

Ugly method: Use your overdraft notice as a red light to cut back on spending until the next payday.

blank vertical space, 24 pixels high4. Start Saving For Retirementblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Good idea: Participate in your employer’s 401k program. If your employer does not have a 401k program, set up an individual retirement account.

Bad idea: rely only on Social Security for your retirement needs. Social Security is designed to replace about 20% of your working income.

Ugly plan: Buy lottery tickets, gamble, or look for high risk, too-good-to-be true investments. Get-rich-quick schemes usually translate to stay-poor-long.

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highIt’s a serious post in that it’s filled with sound practical advice, along with some warnings. But there’s humor below the surface:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

e.g., the idea of a loan shark being an emergency fund “strategy”; buying lotto tickets to help you save for retirement, because you are going to win, right?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s the header image Zions Bank used for that Good-Bad-Ugly post. A generic stock photo: a happy couple smiling and laughing at a sheaf of papers. A pretty picture, but utterly forgettable. Lots of wasted space, too.

 

stock photo young black couple sitting on couch living room laughing looking at sheaf papers

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highWhy not tap into the post’s unspoken humor and put that space to better use?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I decided to do just that.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I reread the post and scratched out some ideas for the four topics covered:

thumbnail sketches for illustrations about bank financial planning

The Zions Bank header image space is unusually long and narrow, but that works to advantage here: you can string the G-B-U items straight across.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Emergency Fund Strategies: feed the piggy bank, max out your credit card, see a loan shark.blank vertical space, 24 pixels hightriple rough sketch emergency fund options good bad ugly zions piggy bank battered maxed out credit card loan shark

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highBuy or rent?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Strategies: Buy a house and accumulate wealth; pay an arm and a leg for an apartment; have Snidely Whiplash show up each month to collect the rent when you’re old.blank vertical space, 24 pixels hightriple rough sketch buy don't rent good bad ugly woman kiss house apartment cost arm leg nasty landlord collect rent from old lady

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highFor Create A Budget, I stepped away from the G-B-U format in favor of a more basic idea: you either tame your spending, or it consumes you.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I like how the dollars are sprouting wings and flying away as the lion chases the poor sap (click on it to see a larger version).blank vertical space, 24 pixels highdouble rough sketch create a budget guy take selfie with lion money mane guy chased by lion in financial trouble because had no budget

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highAnd here’s the original rough sketch for Saving For Retirement:blank vertical space, 24 pixels highoriginal B&W rough sketch three panel illustration saving for retirement good bad ugly woman big muscles invest in 401K IRA Uncle Sam paying pennies to old man gamble scratch lottery ticket bad retirement savings plan

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highTo sum up:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The Zions Bank post was excellent: compact, well written, easy to understand, a fun format (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly). It was warm, welcoming, accessible.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The stock photo header image was bland and generic: pretty much the opposite of warm and welcoming.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Incorporating some of that GBU humor into a custom image makes sense for the following reasons:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

1. A custom image reflects post content: it’s a visual preview of what the post is about.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

2. As such, it arouses curiosity (nobody is ever curious about pretty people laughing at some papers).blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

3. The humor creates a fun mood and helps people relax, so they’ll be more open to your message.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

4. Humor humanizes a brand; people are more apt to think: this might be someone I can talk to.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

This particular header has another advantage: you can break it apart and use the three spots separately: with tweets or Facebook posts, for example.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

three panel illustration saving for retirement good bad ugly woman big muscles invest in 401K IRA Uncle Sam paying pennies to old man gamble scratch lottery ticket bad retirement savings plan
blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *  blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Sharon Scott editor national weekly edition Washington Post

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