Business Bites Episode 114: 4 Financial Stability Steps For Small Biz Owners with Winnie Sun

4 Financial Stability Steps For Small Biz Owners with Winnie Sun

Episode 114 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: Having a firm grasp of your finances can be a life saver in uncertain times.  Winnie Sun joins Rachel on this episode of Business Bites to give you some tips on investing, contributing to 401Ks, and even teaching your kids about money. 


What you will learn: 

  • why Winnie is optimistic right now
  • why business owners need to pay attention to the Care Act and the Paycheck Protection program
  • why it’s a good time to look at college savings, retirement plans, and investments
  • what profitable shopping is 
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Hey guys, welcome to episode 114 of the Business Bites Podcast. I have an awesome treat for you guys today. I am joined by Winnie Sun, but before I get into all of her amazingness and kick off with her, just understand that while in this episode we’re primarily going to be targeting the current Covid-19 circumstances and the financial impact on your small business.

These are still tips that you guys are going to be able to use even after all this and also to learn from to set you up so that if something like this ever happens again, you won’t be in the same financial situation. So Winnie, thank you so much for taking your time. You’ve been so busy with media appearances and I am especially grateful to have you.

Winnie Sun:
I’m so grateful to be here with you.

So I have to know how did you get the name, the wealth whisper.

Winnie Sun:
Well, Rachel it’s a long story. But basically… Quite a few years ago, I was doing an interview with a reporter and she was asking me about how I became a financial advisor, what type of clients I work with, my experiences with working with children and my own kids and teaching them about money and she says, you are the wealth whisper and that’s how it came to be. And then she put it in an article and then it sort of caught on. A lot of people started calling me that and really that’s how it all began. Someone else named me.

Well, I love it, I love it because that’s actually one of the things that caught my eye. How I found you was through Twitter and trying to gather information for the Podcast. And when I saw that I was like I have to have her. So I’m excited. How did you get into financial advising?

Winnie Sun:
Well, it’s really by accident because just like when you’re a kid, you never think you’re going to go into the financial services industry. It’s not like something like… When I grow up, I want to be a financial advisor. I didn’t even know what a financial advisor was. So it was really about three months before I started college and I was all excited, a typical Asian kid, I got really good grades and I did all this volunteer work. And so I was all destined to go to this gray college.

And then about three months before that, my mom pulls me aside and shares with me that the family had… My parents never had a lot of money, but they’re really good savers. So they were really smart about not spending any money. And so I thought we’d be fine. And then they pulled me aside and said, we’re sorry but that… Remember that real estate project we invested in, in Claremont? And I said, yeah. And they said, well, that was for your college. I was like, okay.

And they said, well, some of the partners went bankrupt and so we’re getting pulled in bankruptcy so you’re not going to be able to go to that private school anymore. And I said, that’s okay, that’s fine. And then… So basically I started college and when most people were trying to figure out what classes they wanted to take and their roommates and all that, rushing and stories and everything else. So my job was basically to find multiple jobs to help my parents keep the house.

So I wasn’t even worried about student debt or anything like that because at that point it was just about survival. And that really was sort of my big aha moment of wow, we were always so good about not spending any money. I mean, in my house, a treat would be once a month my parents would take us to like Burger King and when hamburgers, they had this promo, that hamburgers were like 39 cents. And so we would load up on hamburgers.

But that was a kind of family is… All we did was work and save money. And yet because of this bad decision that my parents had no financial experience because they’re immigrants from Taiwan and English wasn’t their first language. And I said, I’m going to change that one day. So I’m also through many… Through college and when I was getting close to graduation, I started taking the personal financial planning program at UCLA at night.

And it was really just a hobby to help my parents out because I was actually working in television at the time and I was doing really well and the professor who was a dean of the program and he was at the regional director of Smith Barney, which was at the time, one of the largest financial firms in the world said, you should go interview at Smith Barney because you’re ready and how… I said, well, I have a really good job in television right now. And so I don’t know why I really want to do this.

But my boyfriend, who’s now my husband, he said, well, why don’t you just try because in television you’re working from 2:00 PM to 2:00 AM, might not be the best long term decision. So yeah, so that’s pretty much it. I started to interview at Smith Barney, I got multiple offers and then put on my first suit and went to work.

And never looked back. Well that’s awesome and you know what, I… I’m sad that happened to your family and I love about the story in, my story is kind of similar in that I got into entrepreneurship because I had cancer and I had that whole aha moment that I didn’t want to work for someone else and I wanted flexibility for family and all that sort of thing. But what I find interesting about your story kind of fits in with what we’re dealing with in the world right now.

How many people, probably entrepreneurs that are listening thought, I thought I was doing well with savings. I thought I was doing well with finances. Who could have predicted a pandemic and literally the whole world stops. And I kind of want to shift into some of the tips that we can give them based on your experience. Have you seen anything like this before?

Winnie Sun:
Well, not quite to this degree. I’ve been a financial advisor now for almost 20 years, so I’ve seen a lot. I’ve been through 9/11, I’ve been through the financial… Multiple financial crisis, resident and everything else and SARS. We certainly saw a lot of natural disasters and we saw market corrections. But this is a whole different, whole different beast in its own. Yeah.

And do you… Are you feeling optimistic about the impact that… Or the way, I guess I should phrase it, are you feeling optimistic about how many business owners can bounce back from this? Are you feeling in your gut that this is really scary for many of them.

Winnie Sun:
I think we’re all scared. I do think that being in my position, I work with clients of all sizes, mostly business owners. I think you can only be as optimistic as you can. I’m a very naturally optimistic person. I think we’ll be just fine longterm, but that doesn’t mean that will, everybody will be fine longterm. I think this experience is going to certainly contract the… A lot of the so practitioners, individual workers, gig economy workers, a lot of entrepreneurs who wanted to be entrepreneurs I think are going to get fleshed out.

I think you know many of the larger companies show that there’s safety there, right? Because a lot of the big companies can pay for you to not work or work from home or pay your benefits during this time. And I think that there’s going to certainly be a flushing out temporarily. Not longterm, I mean, the beautiful thing about being in the greatest country in the world, the United States, is that we always have this sort of spirit, entrepreneur, charisma and boldness.

So temporarily it’ll flush things out. I think I’m of course concerned of the effect that it’ll have on our children because I’ve got three kids under the age of 12 sitting downstairs and this is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives. And how is that going to affect them when they come to decide where they want to work, how they’re going to treat their money and everything else that will be, I think that’s sort of the scary thing. But we’ll fight, we’ll get over this. Well, there’ll be a vaccine at some point.

We’ll have medications and it’ll take some time, but there will be light at the end of the tunnel. But in the short amount of time, it’s okay to feel stressed down, a little nervous right now, but you shouldn’t let it impact you too much. I think that’s key. That’s sort of the conversation that we’re… You can imagine how many phone calls we’re having of clients and prospective people just the media, right?

So you might have seen. So I’m on Fox news three days a week, Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays and doing like I’m co-hosting a program with CNBC this week. I’m doing a project with PayPal. There’s like everybody right now wants to hear what we have to say and I keep telling my clients, which is, I mean this sincerely, I said, right now you need to focus on just being happy and healthy. Let the money stuff be taken care of by me and our team. So let us take that off your shoulders because that’s why you have us here.

So if you’re finding you’re stressed out and you’re nervous and you can’t even sleep and this is impacting your psyche, your finances. I think that’s a great wake up call to seek out help. And the good thing is that we are certainly essential services. So all the financial firms are open. Right now I’m calling you from home. We might be working from home, but we are working more hours and we are probably more accessible than ever. So just seek, seek somebody out to help you and in time you’ll be just fine. We just got to get together, just get through this altogether and everybody wants to help.

And that’s one area that I think we have seen just… I have never seen the demand for financial advice as I’m seeing now. This is like literally the tsunami of seeking you out professional advice, which I think is a good thing longterm. I think if more people sought out professional advice, that will just help them plan for their future retirement, help their kids pay for college stuff if more people take on this role now. It just means the future will be stronger so I’m optimistic.

I feel like my audience is probably going, Rachel paid you to say that because I’m on the podcast. I own a law firm and we’re completely barraged with questions right now about contracts and stuff like this. But it definitely is, we’re here to help and people are scrambling with questions and that’s why I wanted to get from you just quick, your quick three tips of what these entrepreneurs can do financially, maybe now that can help them in the short term.

I don’t really even know how to guide them. And that’s how you ended up here. So can you think of a few things that we can tell those listening because… And as you’re talking I just was thinking, I’m a very control type a person. So in this very uncontrollable environment I feel like being able to sit down, listen to a podcast, watch your stuff on the news and make a plan, helps to ease my anxiety. So what can we give them? What are some tips that they can have?

Winnie Sun:
Okay, so I only get three tips so I’m not even going to say the first one, which was don’t panic. I’m not even going to waste one of my tips for that. But the first tip I would say is, right now is to be really honest with yourself, right? If your financial needs… If you’re not retiring this year or next year and you feel good about how you’re invested in terms or your 401k or IRA or what not, then be realistic. If you’re the kind of person that just so panicked, you don’t even want to look at it, then maybe that’s the best thing that you can do right now. Instead, if you’re the type of person that says, you know what, I kind of want to know but kind don’t want to know.

But I feel like I need someone to look it over and see if they can make things a little bit better. Then you should reach out to a financial advisor right now. Those are the calls we’re getting non stop and you can certainly call us or you can find… Or if you have a financial advisor, great, you should reach out because that’s what we’re here for. The second thing I think is super important right now. And so some of you might know because I have… I actually do live streaming after the market closes every single day.

So this is important because the market news is changing so quickly as well as the fiscal stimulus policies. So I really want you to pay attention to this because for those of you who are business owners and what not, the care act is awesome. Today you can go to the small business administration website, apply for your $10 grant if you’re having financial troubles with your company, which I don’t know how many people don’t have troubles with their company.

And then next week you can apply for the paycheck protection program through your bank to help pay for your employees, your rent, your business rent, all the other business expenses, things like that. That’s going to be in place next week. So there’s a lot of things that you can proactively do, you don’t want to miss out on. So take this opportunity to seek this information out. So if you’re a business owner, if you’re not paying attention, you’re going to lose money. So the best way to do this is to simply listen to podcasts like yourselves.

You can certainly follow me on all my social channels if you want. We’re going live, it’s totally free. You can sit back in your pajamas and watch, because most of my clients… I did this because most of my clients don’t want to hear, they don’t want to sit in front of CNBC and CNN, financing and Yahoo finance every single day. Well that’s what I do. So I’ll give it to you in 20 minutes of… The only things that you need to know and you can get in and get out and you can psych Netflix, you can go on social channels and play it when you want to.

But you just do that alone, you’ll get so much knowledge and you won’t have to be stressed out. I will not let you be stressed out. The third thing I would say is those of you who are in a position to sort of save or make a difference right now, let’s say you have your job. I just met another client and they do data services and one of the big industries that they cover is health care. So the check is still coming in. If you’re in that situation then you should take a look and see if you can’t add a little bit more right now because the market is certainly at more attractive levels than it was a couple months ago.

And so if you’re thinking well you know, I should start planning for my kids educate… My child’s education because he or she is three or four, this is great because you have plenty of years ahead of them. Start to looking at college savings plan, add a little bit more there. That’s what I’m doing with my kids. And then, if you haven’t really saved enough for retirement or you’re going to set up your emergency fund, do you sort of that, okay? I’m going to take a fourth one even though I was supposed to stick with three. I don’t follow directions here.

We’re going to do as many as we want.

Winnie Sun:
Okay, cool. This one you’re going to love, okay, because I call it profitable shopping. And I think all of you guys deserve some profitable shopping because you’re awesome. And so what I want you to do is, I don’t mean you go shop on Amazon or target or Walmart or Instacart. No, no, no, what I mean by this is, so right now you’re at home or you should be at home and so you got a little bit more time to do your personal stuff. So what I want you to do is I want you to call your car insurance, your home owners insurance. I want you to take a look at your credit card statements, I want you to take a look and see if you can find things that are better and cheaper.

So, so many of us forget that we’re really not driving right now. So maybe you can decrease your car insurance right now, right? And so I think of your cell phone bill. You should see if there’s a better option for you. Maybe you have an international plan still. Maybe you’re not traveling so you don’t need that and find better internet that’s cheaper and faster. Take this opportunity to do some profitable shopping. That’s my big thing right now.

And those of you who have kids like me, let me tell you, one of the best things you can do is first of all talk to your kids about all this craziness and I recommend having your child work with you to sell one item per day on eBay and just go to the house and this is really fun stuff. It will help you save money, which in turn gives you more money. And then maybe if you want to get started, this is a great time to consider sort of making sure that the next time this happens and we should always plan for this happening another time that you’ll be financially okay.

So next time… We learned from… This is like a great financial education, if you will. Think about it in a positive way, you’re going to be fine as long as… Don’t go out and talk to people and don’t go hang on the beach and you’ll be just fine.

What I like is this is forcing me to not spend money because Amazon’s taken too long to deliver and I can’t go out to eat. So no, that’s a sure fire away for savings right there. I did have a question for you on kind of thinking about the savings retirement aspect. One of the top questions that I’ve received, which… How many people are asking me financial questions. This is why I have you now. I’ll send them your way. But they’re asking me in more of as a crossover to like taxes. They’re thinking, should I keep contributing into my IRAs, my fi… What is it the, what is the IRS, IRA that we… The SEP-IRA.

Winnie Sun:
The SEP is simple, and then there’s a one person 401k and there’s a company 401k and there’s a [inaudible 00:18:28]. Yeah, so that is, that’s a golden question. I get asked that constantly. And I’ll tell you this, it really depends on your situation, right? So I’ll give you an example. So let’s say you’re in a situation where you’re part of the three million people who apply for unemployment. Obviously this is not a great time for you to do that. Let’s assume that you’re not, right? Because you had mentioned thinking about contributions or increasing contributions. I think it depends.

So if you’re in a situation where financially you are worried about your job or you did lose your job, then obviously you don’t really have income so you’re not really contributing to your 401k. But for like your set? Yeah, I think you can certainly wait because you know the filing date on taxes and it’s been extended to July 15th so there’s not really that urgency to tribute your last year’s contribution.

But if you are like some… Other people, I’ll give an example. So I am the money person on Good Day LA too. So when I was going to studios, a lot of people were asking me, so Winnie what do I right now? Well you’re still working, you still have a paycheck. And so what I would suggest you do is right now double up on your 401k contributions. And they said, really? I said yeah, because right now things are very inexpensive because people are very nervous and then you contribute double or even triple if you can. And then later at the end of the year, if things get better, you can always decrease your contribution, but you’re getting too much better to buy when things are less expensive, right?

And then later on you can pull back those contributions. So in terms of your IRA, if you’re in a situation where you have the money set aside, it’s just sitting in a savings account right now or a checking account, not earning any interest then yeah, absolutely. I think you should actually… I’ll even plug this because a lot of people have been saying like Winnie you need to talk about this more. We actually have a… We set up this program called and you can set up your whole account, like your IRA online and fund it online with without ever actually seeing a human.

Yeah, so it’s really inexpensive… It’s really cheap too. It’s like less than a percent. So it’s really cheap to set up and actually it’s built by my team and I, so you get like really great… You have a financial plan and you get all this great knowledge and you could do it like in your pajamas. So yeah, you could do it that way or you can find someone locally, could find someone, your banker or whatever to help you set it up or to increase those contributions.

I’m a big believer and if you’re financially able and you have a lot of time ahead of you and you’re not worried about the market dropping more because I certainly think the market will probably drop more then I’m good with adding right now. I certainly am and many of my clients are, so yeah, I couldn’t even tell that right now I think that’s one of the values of working with a financial advicer for a really long time because like my clients are… I’m talking to them directly or nervous, but I remember we prepare for this and yeah, we’re ready to back up the truck.

I’m like, all right, let’s be really, really careful and strategic on how we do this. But yet we know we might not see an opportunity like this for a very long time. I would love to say in our lifetime what I sort of doubt. I’m sure there’s going to be something like this again in the future, but certainly I think in the short amount of time, I’m hoping this will be the last of this dramatic of a market correction.

And I like how you took the approach of talking about investing even the face of everything because I really did come into this episode, anticipate on us, talked about primarily though, no savings, put it away, store it all for the winter type of mentality. But you have convinced me and shown me and I’m going to link for you guys all of Winnie stuff on the show notes page. So but this advice is fantastic, especially if you’ve done the steps.

If you’ve listened to the podcast in the past and you’ve done the steps in order to do the proper savings and cost cutting measures, taking a really good solid financial approach, you can take advantage of the market and the circumstances now. But I’m glad what you said a little bit ago, if you haven’t even gotten to that place, if you’re maybe someone who’s listening who doesn’t even have a savings right now, you’re going to be focused on the other tips that Winnie’s provided, but put this, what we just talked about in mind for if this ever happens again, you’ll then be financially set up so you can take this opportunity in the future.

Winnie Sun:
Exactly, exactly. And then that $1 200 check that some of you’ll be receiving and the next couple of weeks here. I would say for most of us we should just… Most of you should just keep it in your checking account as your sort of your financial lifeline. If we will. I wouldn’t be so in such a hurry to pay off credit card debt or student loans. Usually you would hear me talk about that. But I think right now it’s good to have some money on hand. I’d rather you keep it for like medication or like groceries right now. I think there’s no harm in just keeping it in your bank account. So it gives you some peace of mind and you can use it when you need it.

Yeah because I think that’s one of the biggest concerns is… I’m not trying to get political, but you know we’re told a week ago most of this will be done by Easter and then like pier, I’m sitting in Virginia and now we’re on a shelter in place till June. It’s like every day you wake up they’re adding another five, six weeks to the timeline. People are starting to get nervous, especially for those that do that aren’t dependent upon media, aren’t dependent upon large corporations to pay them.

So that’s really, really great advice. If you guys are eligible for that check and I will be linking some stuff in the show notes to see. I found a good calculator, I think it was on Forbes or entrepreneur mag. I’ll link it for you guys to see if your, how much that you’re maybe getting back, et cetera. So Winnie, do you have any last tips or any just little piece of wisdom you want to provide them before we sign off.

Winnie Sun:
Well, I just think, keep listening to this podcast because great information, it’s really timely and I love how it just… But more importantly I think take the opportunity to at least pay a little attention to if nothing else, the $2 trillion fiscal stimulus because there’s elements of it that will apply to you and that will help you.

So instead of just not basing or not listening to any of it, I would actually step up and take an active role right now and take the opportunity. Because I think right now a lot of news coming out is very, very scary. But like your podcast, my stuff, it’s so uplifting and positive and we’re trying to help. And I think more the more knowledge, the more often you watch it, you start to get used to the terms and it’s really not frightening.

And more importantly you’re going to get so much smart literacy right now that will help you long term. So again, sharing is caring, right? So reach out to your friends and family. Do that as much as you can and check up on people and see if they, if you can help them get the knowledge that you had as well.

That’s fantastic. Well, thank you Winnie, I appreciate it. Guys, just a reminder, this will be episode 114 I do. I’m probably going to break the schedule because I have so much other information coming out. I’m going to have an episode on the paycheck protection, care act, all that sort of stuff, so make sure you keep checking back, we’re going to have a Covid specific page with all of this links of information.

And just remember, just like Winnie said, sharing is caring, not even just sharing this information, but just sharing kindness and reaching out to check on your fellow business owners who may also feel completely stressed out and alone during this time. Don’t forget to jump into the Business Bites Podcast, Facebook group. There’s a lot of great entrepreneurs that are providing a lot of information and support so that you don’t feel so alone.

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Featured Guest & Resources

Winnie is one of the most followed financial advisors on social media today. With over 18 years of experience in the industry, Winnie serves on the CNBC Financial Advisor Council, is the regular money contributor on Good Day LA, is a Forbes contributor, selected Investment News’ Twenty Women to Watch*, Investopedia’s Top 100 Financial Advisors, speaker at Barron’s, Forbes, and other national conferences, appears on CNBC’s Closing Bell, Fox Business News, and Cheddar TV as a market commentator, Forbes, NerdWallet, Influencive, MoneyTips, ModernMom, Galtime, Bloomberg’s AssetTV, is the host of the trending #WinnieSun tweetchat on Twitter, host of both the podcast Renegade Millionaire and The Winnie Sun Podcast, host of the popular digital video series #AskWinnie, appears on CBS, and is quoted in publica-tions including The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, ABC, The New York Times, Yahoo! Finance, AOL Finance, HuffPost LIVE, theStreet TV, USA Today, TheStreet show, Rep Magazine, OnWallstreet, Financial Planning Magazine, FA Magazine, AdvisorOne, GreersOC, LA Times, OC Business Journal, OC Register, OC Metro, OC Family, and many others.Winnie was previously First Vice President of Wealth Management, Senior Investment Management Specialist, and Lead Financial Advisor for the Sun Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Her exemplary young team was a premier leader in managing client portfolios and providing professional customized service. Winnie began her investmentadvisory practice with Salomon Smith Barney where she was awarded their highest honors for success with her member-ship in the elite Blue Chip Council (2001-2004), Century Council, and President’s Council throughout her tenure**. Winnie was also an advising member of the Smith Barney Asian Advisory Diversity Council.As an independent wealth advisor, Winnie is regularly called upon to educate large corporate and nonprofit groups on planning strategies. Winnie has been honored with invitations to attend the conference for Barron’s Winner’s Circle for Top Women Financial Advisors beginning in 2006 to present, named Investment News’ 20 Women To Watch, and coined “The Wealth Whisperer” in OC Metro’s “40 under 40” recognition***, and awarded first place in Rise Ranking’s 2017 Women in Finance Power 100 list****.

*Winnie Sun is honored to have been selected as part of the 2015 Investment News Women to Watch list for her ability to effect change in the industry, willingness to share her experience and her ability to give back to the community.
**Salomon Smith Barney membership council levels were based on annual productions.
***The 2013 OC Metro Top 40 under 40 was picked from over 100 candidates based on impacts made in the business community, recent awards received and philanthropic efforts.
****Rise Global Women in Finance Leaderboard Weekly ranking (6/19/17) by Kurtosys based on social media activity and engagement

You can find Winnie here:

Photo credit:  Opie Opfer

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business.  This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both.  In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.

Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing.  Keep at it!

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