Financial Wellness @ Work

Lessons From a Visit to Urgent Care

We all know that the cost of medical care is going up, but my colleague’s recent trip to urgent care really opened my eyes to just how much.  The good news is that she is okay, but what she learned about the current state of the healthcare industry should make us sit up straight and take notice.  Here is a brief overview of what happened: Read more

The Benefits of Healthy Living

Is it just me or does it seem like people are trying to eat better and exercise more these days? I see more people jogging up and down my street. I’ve noticed more “healthy” snack options at the grocery store. Read more

What Happens Now If You Cannot Afford Health Insurance?

Most of the employees that I work with are in a fortunate position to work for large companies that provide health insurance to their employees.  But many of the people that I talk with have friends and extended family members that are not covered by an employer-provided plan.  One area of confusion these days is what happens when you cannot afford health insurance.  Unfortunately, the answer to that question is a little complicated and it depends on a few important factors. Read more

The Importance of Staying In-Network

My husband Dave recently broke up with our family dentist, and it wasn’t his idea. He felt jilted when he got a letter in the mail a few months ago notifying him that Dr. Muller was no longer going to participate as an in-network provider through his employer’s group dental insurance. In the letter, Dr. Muller encouraged patients to continue to see him, just not with the advantage of the negotiated rates. Would it really make that much of a difference?  Read more

Do You Know the Difference Between an HSA and an FSA?

Fall has arrived, and that means open enrollment is just right around the corner. For many employees, this provides the window of opportunity to sign up for either an HSA or FSA in order to set aside pre-tax dollars for your out-of-pocket healthcare costs.  Not quite sure what the difference is between these 2 types of accounts? Well, you are not alone.  In a recent Fidelity survey, two-thirds of those surveyed said they simply do not understand how an HSA works and “a full 73 percent of respondents said an HSA is pretty much the same thing as a health FSA or were unsure, and the ‘use it or lose it’ provision of FSAs was one of the most commonly misunderstood differences between the account types.”  Read more

When to Retire? How About 40?

I recently saw this clip of the Today Show that discussed one man’s goal of retiring before 40, a topic I’ve written about before. He’s 30 years old, earns $50k a year, and has accumulated $100k of savings over the last 3 years. His goal is to save 60-70% of his net income to retire at age 35 with a $400k nest egg to cover his $15k of annual expenses. To do that, he’s moved to Florida to avoid state income taxes and be able to live without a car (he points out that waiting for the bus is much easier in warmer weather) and has decided not to have children. Is his plan feasible? Read more

Why You Should Treat Your HSA Like an IRA

Would you raid your Roth IRA or 401(k) to pay for car repair bills? I suppose if you have no other choice, you might. But ordinarily, we want to use our tax-advantaged retirement accounts only as a last resort because we want that money to grow tax-free or tax-deferred for as long as possible. The HSA is the only account that allows us to make pre-tax contributions and withdraw them tax-free. Why then are we so willing to tap into our HSAs for medical expenses? Read more

Retire Before 65: It May Pay To Wait

Retiring before 65 can be a challenge even for the folks that have their financial ducks in a row.  Last week, an employee called into our financial helpline and asked me what he should be considering to retire early.  He was 62 and wanted to retire in a year but he didn’t know of anyone in his professional or social circles that was retiring early and could give him advice. No one he knew was retiring before 65. Read more

Do You Have These Essential Financial Protections in Place?

One of the most difficult financial challenges people often face is trying to decide how to balance competing goals. A typical situation might be someone who wants to pay off student loans and credit card debt, save for emergencies and a home purchase, start putting something away for retirement, open a college account for their newborn, and purchase disability and life insurance. Yet, they only have a limited amount of money they can save each month.  Read more

Get Them In Before They Age Them Out

Last week we took our daughter, Rachel, to the dentist for her bi-annual cleaning. Originally, she was scheduled to go in last April, but Rachel had a conflict with a soccer game so her mom decided to cancel it. Rachel’s name was added to the cancellation list, and for the last five months, the dentist’s office has been calling whenever there has been a cancellation to try and get her in. Normally, we would try to get Rachel in as soon as possible, but each time they called to schedule the appointment they would give us a time during school hours, and Susan and I saw no reason to remove her from class just to have her teeth cleaned. Read more