Don't Opt Into the Benefits Abyss Alone...
It’s that time of year again. You know, when you must pull out your crystal ball and make your best prediction on which financial benefits you should opt into at work for the next year. It can be a tricky situation if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can opt to defer too much into your retirement plan and get yourself into trouble if you don’t have enough money left to cover your expenses. You also can opt to defer too little and miss out on company match opportunities and tax deferred growth. Whatever you decide, my best advice (speaking from experience)…Don’t go at it alone!
Logging into your employee benefits site isn’t typically a memorable event. But the first time I tried to enroll in a company 401(k) is still fresh in my mind. I was 22 and working at IBM as my first job out of college. I had just logged into NetBenefits after receiving emails telling me it was time to elect my 401(k) contribution amounts. I finally found the page I was looking for and quickly realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Pre-tax? Roth? Post-tax non-Roth? Percentages? Fixed dollar amounts? It was all Greek to me. So I did what every recent grad at the time would: 1. Message my orientation friends on Communicator/Gchat 2. Google. Turns out, my orientation friends weren’t much help. We basically just started guessing percentages that sounded good. Google didn’t serve me well either. While it did lead me to some articles on Roth contributions, the benefits of saving for retirement, etc., I still had no idea what that meant for me specifically. You’d think something as basic as this would have been covered in one of my many classes throughout college and even high school. But no, I was completely clueless, and from the quick chats with my orientation pals, I could tell they were thinking the same.
Now that I’m a Financial Advisor, my world has completely changed. I’m the one fielding calls from clients of all ages asking, “What the heck does this mean?” I’m the one reviewing my boyfriend’s benefits package every year, ensuring he has put something away for his own retirement. While the knowledge I now have is great for CURO clients and myself, there are still countless people stuck on their NetBenefits screen asking, “What do I do?” into the abyss.
My goal and the goal of every woman that works at CURO is to change that. Financial knowledge should be accessible, simple, and empowering. Whether it’s through an appointment with me, a presentation CURO does in the community, a random fact you read on this blog, or some source that has nothing to do with us. I think every woman and family should have some person or place to turn to so that their financial questions don’t go unanswered and your financial decisions are made wisely. We as a community have to make that a priority, and we’re doing our best at CURO to contribute to that change.
And if you’re wondering what I decided to do with that 401(k) at IBM…I made the wrong choice. I didn’t realize it until years later, but I could have elected to contribute MUCH more than I did.