Monday, September 25, 2023

The Best Tools And Benefits At Work For Your Future Self — The Money Takes

Cross training benefits both employees and employers by training employees to perform multiple tasks or functions within an organization. This can help boost morale because everyone within the organization is able to help each other, creating a self-sufficient team; boosting and improving the overall performance and productivity of a team. In an environment where companies lay off employees, being cross trained can end up being a lay-off proof practice, because these employees add value. 

Be sure to take advantage of being cross trained to learn skills and tasks you would not originally have access to. When I first started my job, I thought it would have been better to hunker down and learn my job only. After a while, I learned there was a big benefit in learning how other departments did their jobs. Learning and picking up a little bit of what they do, helped me learn new skills, but also allowed me to do my job better. That’s with understanding how different departments work better, together. With this mentality, I feel comfortable transitioning to other industries than my own, if the time ever came to it.

Retirement and Health Savings Accounts

Retirement savings accounts are a great addition to pension plans and social security. Whether it’s a 401(k) or a 403(b), contributing to these accounts are sure to lead to wealth in the future. Contributions to these accounts can be tax-deferred if traditional, and grow tax free if Roth. With the Roth option, individuals don’t have to pay taxes on the interest or gains when it comes time to withdraw. 

While some employers automatically enroll employees when they become eligible, other companies require their employees to sign up. There can be a match offering as well as a vesting schedule. I’ve worked for companies that offer 50% match up to a certain percentage; and on top of that, a 2-5 year vesting schedule. My current employer matches 50% up to 4% and then 100% on additional 2%. This pushes me to put at least 6% of my salary into my 40k(k). Being vested means I have access to the money at all times. Under the vesting schedule, I would have to wait until the time has passed before I could take control of the funds. With my employer, I was under a 2 year vesting schedule, so I could only have access to my contributions, and not my employer’s match, until after 2 years of tenure at the company. 

Many 401(k) and 403(b) offer a wide range of investment options, making the availability of  target date funds great products. Someone retiring in 2055 can pick the 2055 target date fund within their retirement account as an investment. Not only do these target date funds track the S&P 500, they are also well diversified, building a well funded nest egg. The biggest pushback people have against a 401(k) is not having access to their money soon enough or the possibility of losing their money. Taking withdrawal with no penalties is an option and money invested is never lost as long as the account is not cashed out. Investments go up and down, and the best thing employees can do is to keep buying, especially in a downmarket so they can take advantage when the markets are back to high levels. 

Another savings account becoming popular for employees is an HSA. A Health Savings Account (HSA), created by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, is a type of savings account that allows individuals to set aside money on a tax-free basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. This is designed to help individuals and families save money on healthcare costs. Just like a brokerage account, the money put into an HSA can either be invested into some investment vehicle like an index or mutual fund. Otherwise, the money sits in cash.

These are the some of the major benefits of an HSA:

  • Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible and can grow tax free if invested. The money you put into your HSA reduces your taxable income. If you think you will be in a higher tax bracket, this can lead to significant tax savings. You also don’t have to pay taxes on any interest or investment income earned on the money in your account.

  • The money in your HSA can be used to pay for a wide range of qualified medical expenses, including doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, and even some over-the-counter medications. This means that you can use the money in your HSA to pay for expenses that might not be covered by your health insurance plan, such as copayments and deductibles. By using your HSA to pay for these expenses, you can potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on healthcare costs each year.

  • HSAs are portable and are not tied to a specific employer or health insurance plan. If you change jobs or health insurance plans, your HSA will still be available to you. 

These advantages make an HSA one of the most attractive tools and future saving benefits for employees. If your employer offers this, get educated on HSAs and sign up if it falls into your financial plans. 

Health Insurance

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