Ah, fall is in the air, which means many of you will be enjoying football and pumpkin spice everything.
As you customize your coffee orders (home décor, candles, breath mints … it’s gone too far) to meet the season, it’s also a great time to think about how you’ll tailor benefits elections during open enrollment, happening at most companies within the next few months.
Ask yourself these questions as you consider the various benefits available to you:
1. Who depends on me?
Be it a spouse, child, elderly parent or live-in partner, you’ll want to ensure that if something happened to you or to them, you’re prepared. And even if it doesn’t read “Dependent” on tax returns, you know if someone is relying on you and your income. That might mean saying yes to supplemental benefits will best serve you and your loved ones in the long run.
2. What’s available?
Start with your health care planning. Nerdwallet blogger Lacie Glover offers great tips for this crucial step, which include assessing the market, deciphering types of health care plans, looking at out-of-pocket costs and some key questions to ask as you weigh your options.
But don’t stop there. Health insurance may help pay for medical bills, but other offerings will help you be able to keep the lights on during what could be a challenging time. Check to see if your employer offers or even helps pay for benefits that protect your paycheck and other needs:
- Disability insurance – both long-term and short-term, which can pay a portion of lost income if illness or injury takes you away from work.
- Life insurance –serves as a safety net for your family and may even build cash value, depending on the type you elect.
- Accident insurance – pays a benefit directly to you if you or a family member experience a covered injury or treatment.
- Critical illness/cancer – can pay a lump-sum cash benefit if a serious illness strikes, and you can use in any way you need.
- Dental – keeps you and your family smiling by helping prevent and treat dental needs.
- Vision – can cover preventative and needed treatment and products such as glasses.
3. What can I afford?
After you’ve taken full inventory of your needs + your options, tally up the premium costs to weigh against life’s other expenses. Having a firm grasp on your budget will be an important prerequisite for making decisions you can feel confident about. That may sound constricting, but knowing you’re making smart financial decisions is actually freeing.
Consider tips from personal finance expert and former stockbroker, John Schmoll, which include assessing where you are, budgeting and thinking about your investments (or lack thereof).