Financial wellness is not a one-time event, nor is it something that can be put on a checklist and marked off at the end of a survey, class or action.
Instead, financial wellness is a result of a series of on-going decisions and behaviors that increase financial health while reducing financial stress.
As an employer, providing a financial wellness benefit can help employees make informed financial decisions that will positively affect their lives – but only if they use it.
Bank of America1 provided some best practices to help increase the usage of financial wellness benefits. Some of these include:
- Use several channels to communicate and distribute information, such as social media, emails, newsletters, workshops, and webinars.
- Use distribution methods that are currently working for your company in other areas
- Send out information throughout the year to encourage employees to participate in financial wellness
- Provide access to links, tools, and apps to help them meet their financial goals
- Think beyond retirement. Employees want to learn about financial topics that are relevant to their current life in addition to life at retirement.
To help employers engage their employees throughout the year, Enrich has created an Employee Financial Wellness Promotion Calendar.
This calendar provides topics for discussion each month that are perfect to distribute through your communication channels and can provide topics for small discussions or webinars.
The links, tools, and assessments listed on the calendar are a good addition to specific links provided by your financial wellness program.
Saving for Summer Vacation: It’s never too early to begin thinking about summer vacation, and the start of the new year with a new budget is a great time to put those thoughts into action – savings actions.
According to a Consumer Expenditure Survey2, the average American spends $581 per person for a four-day domestic vacation. That means a family of four needs to save just over $2,000 for a vacation.
- Enrich offers the Saving for a Goal Calculator that helps employees determine how long it will take to save up enough money for their vacation goal. This calculator analyzes their financial contributions against the cost of that purchase or goal they’re trying to reach!
- Employees may also want to read “From the Couch to the Caribbean: How to Save for That Much-Needed Vacation.”
Credit Card Spending Review: January is a great time to look at last year’s credit cards to determine how money was spent.
Most credit card companies provide a yearly statement to help employees determine where and how they spent their money.
Suggest employees check to see if their spending matches their financial goals. Once they look at their spending, they can determine where to cut back or realign spending.
Tip: Don’t forget to look at the small purchases because they can really add up. That $3 coffee each weekday morning is a whopping $780 that could be used toward something else.
Low Budget Valentine’s Ideas: February is the month of love but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to prove your love.
- The article “Romance on a Budget: 10 Cheap Date Night Ideas to Revive the Love” can help your employees consider low-budget Valentine’s ideas that take advantage of time and creativity instead of money.
America Saves Week: This event happens the last week of February and is a great time to talk about emergency savings. A great goal for employees is to create an emergency savings account that can cover three months of expenses.
- The “Setting Up an Emergency Fund” course can help employees learn how much to save, ways to grow their fund faster, how to build a habit of saving, and more.
Tax Preparation: By the first of March, most of your employees should have access to the necessary tax documentation needed for tax season. Here is a quick list of things your employees can do to prepare their taxes:
- Gather important documents such as W2s, 1099s, mortgage interest statements, proof of medical coverage, etc.
- Determine a filing status: The article, “Married Filing Jointly/Separately, Head of Household: What Are These and Why It Matters” can help employees determine the best filing status for their situation.
- Determine whether to itemize deductions or take the standard. Learn more with the article, “IRS Tax Tip: Itemizing vs. Standard Deduction - 6 Facts to Help You Choose”.
- File your taxes: Many of your employees will be able to prepare and file their taxes for free. “Free Sources for Tax Help” provides your employees with several free sources. For those with more complicated tax situations, they can hire a tax accountant or use online tax software.
Review Employee Benefits: Most employees are aware of 401(k) retirement and medical benefits.
However, many employers offer other benefits such as family medical leave, paid time off, life insurance, gym memberships, discount programs, and more.
Encourage employees to get to know the benefits you offer and take advantage of them.
Make Prior Year IRA Contributions: As employees prepare their tax returns, they may discover that they owe money to the IRS.
One way to decrease the amount owed is to make a contribution to their IRA for the previous year.
By putting money into an IRA, your employee can reduce their earned income by the amount deposited. This can be done until the tax filing date – typically April 15th. This only works if:
- The employee has not maxed out their contributions for the year
- They are putting money into a tax-deductible, traditional IRA
Employees can learn more by reading “How to Catch up on Your Retirement Savings With Catch-Up Contributions,” and can check to see if they are on track for retirement with Enrich’s “Planning for Retirement” course.
Get Free Annual Credit Report: Federal law allows your employees to get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) once a year. “The Who, What, When and Why of Free Credit Reports” explains the ins and outs of this report.
Your employees should check their credit regularly so that they can:
- Understand their current credit standing
- Know what lenders see when looking at their report
- Correct any incorrect information on the report
Learn About Consumer Fraud and Scams: Although most people believe they know enough to avoid being financially scammed, the truth is that 14.4 million people fell victim to financial scams in 20183 costing them $1.7 billion.
Employees should understand terms such as phishing and spoofing, as well as some of the major types of scams like debt collection, imposter, and grandparent scams.
- Enrich offers the “Protecting yourself from identity theft and scams” course to help employees protect their identity and sensitive information from online scams and real-world threats
Protect Against Identity Theft: The 2019 Identity Fraud study also showed that just over half a million people suffered identity theft the previous year.
When this happens, the thief uses the stolen information to apply for credit, take out loans, file taxes, and even receive expensive medical care.
There are several tips for safeguarding personal information such as limiting to whom you provide your Social Security number and only performing financial tasks on a secure network.
- The video “How to Avoid Identity Theft” explores steps to help employees protect themselves
- Employees can use the ID Theft Risk tool to determine their risk level for fraud and identity theft
Perform a Mid-Year Checkup: Just as with any goal, it is important for your employees to look at their financial goals to see if they are on track. If not, June is a great time to make adjustments to get back on course.
Keep in mind that most employees will have financial goals in one or more of the following areas:
- Emergency savings
- Other savings
- Debt reduction
Employees may wish to read “Have You Done A Midyear Financial Checkup Yet?”
Perform a Contributions Checkup: In addition to spending and savings goals, many employees will also have contribution goals.
Employees should see if they are on target for 401(k), 529, and HSA savings. With six months left in the year, there is still time to make needed adjustments.
- “When Your Retirement Plan is Off Track” offers tips for employees who find that they are behind in their retirement contributions
Begin Budgeting for Holiday Gifts: As summer vacations wind down, the Christmas holidays are moving quickly into view.
July is a great month to concentrate savings that once went to vacation planning to focus on Christmas gift-giving.
- This article, “6 Ways to Up Your Savings Game” can help employees get creative when saving for Christmas
Update Financial Passwords: In today’s world, the average employee has 70 to 80 passwords4, making it impossible to keep track of them all in their head.
Additionally, with all of the data breaches (1506 in 2019 exposing 164.68 million records5), it is quite probable that current passwords, even if remembered, are no longer safe.
Suggest employees take a day in July to update all their financial passwords and then save them in a password protector app.
Tip: Consider using a random password generator to create unique passwords.
Check Credit Card and Loan Rates: Interest rates constantly rise and fall. It is a good idea to check interest rates to determine if it makes sense to refinance a loan or ask a credit card company for a lower rate.
- Enrich’s Mortgage Refinance Calculator helps employees determine if refinancing their home makes sense given their current interest rate
Audit Subscriptions: It is easy to continue paying for subscriptions that you never use, especially if the monthly payments are automated.
The average American spends $237 per month on subscriptions6 and most can easily save 10 to 20% each month just by eliminating those they no longer use.
Suggest that employees spend 15 minutes reviewing their subscriptions from magazines to streaming services to apps.
Look for Automation: One of the best ways to save money and pay down debt is to have it happen automatically.
Employees can set up automatic withdrawals from a checking account to pay for fixed expenses and automatic deposits from payroll into various savings accounts.
If your company offers automation, this would be a good time to provide information on how to set up these payroll deductions.
Tip: Employees can use the bill pay feature through their bank or deal directly with vendors to set up automatic payments.
To learn more about automation, employees can read “The Benefits of Using Technology to Help Manage Your Money.”
Speak to a Professional: As the year winds down, it is time to start thinking about next year’s goals. Now might be a good time to speak to a professional.
The four steps for finding the right financial professional are:
- Learn what kind of financial advisors are available and which one is best for your given situation
- Choose the services you will want your financial advisor to perform
- Consider how much you can afford to spend on a financial advisor
- Look at the chosen financial advisor’s credentials
This article, “Do You Need Help? What to Look for When Hiring a Financial Professional” will help your employees find the right financial professional.
Create/Update Personal Property Inventory for Insurance: A personal property inventory is a list of property in your home that includes the following information:
- Room in which it is located
- Item description
- Purchase date
- Place of purchase
- Original cost
- Serial number and model number
- Video or photos of each item
- Receipts or appraisals of valuable items
This inventory will make filing an insurance loss claim easier and make it more likely that your employees will get the loss settled quickly and fully.
To learn more, employees can read “How to Keep a Personal Inventory for Your Household.”
Conduct an Insurance Review: Each year, your employees should conduct an insurance review to determine if their current insurance meets their current needs at the right price.
This review should include medical, life, home, car, rental, disability, and/or long-term care insurance.
- The Enrich course, Assessing Your Insurance Needs, explores the various types of insurance products available to consumers to help them achieve a financially secure future
Open Enrollment: This is the time of year that employees should get information about benefits enrollment for the coming year.
Help employees understand any changes to current benefits, as well as understand the different tax-advantages for participating in different benefit accounts.
Look at Debt: With the new year looming, it is time to consider next year’s debt reduction goals. The best way to do this is to:
- Calculate current debt including credit cards, consumer loans, and mortgages
- Create a debt reduction goal for the coming year
- Create a debt payment strategy to help meet your goal
Enrich offers the Pay Down Debt or Invest Calculator to help employees determine which option will yield the greatest rewards.
Employees may also be interested in the Credit Card Pay Down tool and the Consolidate My Debt tool.
Low Budget Christmas Ideas: Everyone loves to give and receive gifts over the holidays, but no one enjoys the bills that come due in January. Instead of overspending, find low-budget gifts that show love without breaking the bank.
Create Next Year’s Budget: Creating and following a budget is important for your employees’ financial health.
Doing so provides a plan for spending and savings so that your employees have enough money for the things they need and want without going into debt.
It can also provide a path out of debt for employees who already owe money.
Tip: Once a budget is set, employees should track every cent spent. This will help them be in charge of their money instead of having their money in charge of them.
Enrich offers two courses on budgeting: Creating a budget (and sticking to it) and Creating a financial plan for your priorities and goals.
1 - https://www.benefitplans.baml.com/Publish/Content/application/pdf/GWMOL/Promoting_Financial_Wellnes_Guide_ARFQ7QRS.pdf
2 - https://www.bls.gov/cex/
3 - https://www.javelinstrategy.com/coverage-area/2019-identity-fraud-report-fraudsters-seek-new-targets-and-victims-bear-brunt
4 - https://www.newswire.com/news/new-research-most-people-have-70-80-passwords-21103705
5 - https://www.statista.com/statistics/273550/data-breaches-recorded-in-the-united-states-by-number-of-breaches-and-records-exposed/
6 - https://www.westmonroe.com/perspectives/point-of-view/americas-relationship-with-subscription-services