Plan ahead

Usually around October, November, or December companies give their employees the opportunity to change their benefits elections. Some of you may be in the middle of doing that right now like I am. I encourage you to take a closer look this year. Some things have changed across the board. Yes the cost of healthcare may be increasing for you like it does for many of us but look at what the needs of your family are as you make your elections. Next year my family will have lots of dental work. Yes we brush our teeth  but things do happen! So, now is the time to increase our dental plan so it covers a higher percentage of the work. In addition, we need to increase the amount we put into our flexible spending account. By the way, all flexible spending accounts will now have a limit of $2500. That account is funded tax free. So we don’t have to work as hard to spend that money.

Also, review your life insurance needs. Maybe your income has increased or your family dynamic has changed. It is always a good rule of thumb to have 8 to 10 times your income in life insurance if someone else depends on your income. Purchasing life insurance through your employer is always the least expensive avenue to take. It literally costs pennies to go from 1X to 2X your income in most cases.

Finally, take an overall assessment of your household’s medical needs. You may want to calculate the amount of prescriptions, doctor visits, and preventive care your family needs next year and plan for it. Use a flexible spending account that avoids taxes or set up a health savings account if your company provides it. Otherwise, set up your own account for medical expenses so you always have a way to take care of your health. You can do the same for any dependent care spending. Your company may provide a tax free dependent care account up to $5000 so take advantage of that savings as well.

Your health is vital so you must take health care seriously. No matter what happens in the White House, I encourage you to do what is in your control to stay in your best health possible. Ultimately, remaining healthy affects your budget for life…

It's That Time Again

Every year between October and November companies begin to notify employees about benefit renewal. During this time you can modify your benefit elections for the upcoming year. Although medical benefits are one of the main elections that many people are concerned about, don’t forget to take advantage of some other benefits your company may offer. Dependent care accounts (DCAs) allow families who pay for child care to save before tax dollars up to $5,000 per year for dependent care expenses. You can access the account for reimbursements with your receipts and/or pertinent documentation for child care, nursery school, or at-home care for dependents. If you put $5,000 for the year 2012 or $416.67/month into this account it will come out of your paycheck prior to taxes. Therefore, your taxable income is reduced by $5,000 for the year. Not only is it an automatic savings account, but it is advantageous on your tax returns. Be sure to only designate the exact amount you will need because the funds do not roll over to the next year.

Also, check into term life insurance. Group plans are by far the least expensive way to pay for life insurance. You need 8-10 times your income so that the ones you love are financially taken care of when you are gone.

Most importantly, you need to evaluate your medical care. Look back over 2011 and see how much you spent on medical needs. Review the choices available so you spend the least amount of money but get the most benefit for you and your family. I love HSAs because they are savings accounts that grow tax-deferred but you can use the funds on medical expenses. You can keep this account until you turn 65 at which point you can use the money for anything you desire after you pay the taxes!

Take action today! Know your options and make sound decisions concerning your benefit choices. It will pay off in the long run!

Financial Fitness at Work

When I worked in corporate America, my husband and I had a lot of debt! We started our marriage with $60k and it climbed to nearly $100k in a few short years. We desperately needed someone to educate us on how to get out of this hole. We felt alone and didn’t know who to turn to. We were also naïve about the process of getting out of debt. Simply put, we were young and stupid! One day the light bulb went on when we listened to the Dave Ramsey Show on the radio. For the first time, we felt inspired about money management and we gained a little glimmer of hope. We began to read books, take classes, and even talked with other people about money matters and debt. The more knowledge we gained the more excited we became about our financial future!

Dave Ramsey however, is in Nashville, TN. He won’t sit down with you and help you work through your personal budget and debt reduction plan. In addition to that, neither of our workplaces provided this insight, education, or push to succeed with money. Sure, you could learn about your 401k or health care options, but who would teach me about getting out of debt at work? No one!

Wouldn’t it be nice to go into work and sit down with your personal coach for an hour to work on your finances right there on site? Or how would it feel to attend a financial workshop on your lunch hour.  You would feel that your employer cares about these issues and is willing to provide you with the resources to truly get free, wouldn't you? 85% of American workers would love their employers to provide financial education as a benefit to them, however only 20% believe they will get it.

This is why I have created Financial Fitness at Work! Maybe your employer hasn’t helped you up to this point but now Tailor-Made Budgets can be the resource you’ve needed all along.  If you want to see this life-changing information available at your workplace, email me.  To find out more about the program click here…