7 Financial Items to Check Before New Year's Eve

December 30, 2014

tips, financial fitness

Neal Frankle

fin-300x162.jpgDidn't 2014 just start? At least that's the way it feels to me. Well, regardless of how things seem, the reality is the year is just about over. But that doesn't mean you can't make a big impact on your financial future before the big ball drops in Times Square.

You can still achieve some very important financial goals before Dec. 31.

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Increase your Savings using these 7 Smart Money Moves

December 30, 2014

budget, savings

Kimberly Palmer

 

Broken_bank.jpgBefore the ball drops on New Year's Eve, you can pump up your savings to squeeze as much out of 2014 as possible. Putting money into retirement accounts before year-end deadlines, opening new after-tax savings accounts and automating savings are all ways to ramp up your personal savings rate in the last days of the year.

SunTrust recently released a fourth-quarter checklist of items the bank encourages clients to consider before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31. The list includes selling securities with significant losses, making additional contributions to 401(k) accounts (keeping in mind that the 2014 limit is $17,500, with a $5,500 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or older), reviewing estate plans and updating beneficiaries on retirement and life insurance accounts.

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Here are 3 Tips for A Happy Financial New Year

fin1-300x168.jpg'Tis the season for colder weather, family get-togethers, and -- let's not forget -- the highest credit-card spending Americans will undertake over the course of the year. Many of us get caught up in the holiday spirit, only to wake up on Jan. 1 realizing that we've blown our budget and have to pay off the debt. This season is expected to be no different, with the National Retail Federation predicting that the average person will spend more than $804 on holiday-related purchases this year, up about 5 percent from last year.

The good thing about holiday spending is that with a little bit of planning, you can expect a happy financial new year. Here are three simple ways to keep your holiday budget on track:

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Retirement In Five Easy Steps

December 24, 2014

retirement

Andrew Mcllvaine

 

40521340_s.jpgMercer has just released its annual “10 Steps DC Plan Sponsors Should Take” for the coming year, or things employers should do to ensure their defined-contribution plans are meeting the needs of plan participants while staying in compliance and taking advantage of recent innovations.

Some of these recommendations include the usual about financial-wellness education, monitoring participants’ progress against their retirement goals, reviewing plan fees and checking up on providers to make sure they’re staying compliant.

Rather than list all 10 steps, I’ve focused on the five that address relatively new developments.

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Why Financial Wellness is the Next Big Trend for 2015

33214038_m.jpgWorksite wellness has been a significant theme throughout 2014, particularly focused on health wellness and the extended benefits of a healthy workforce. As we look toward 2015, we can anticipate the wellness movement to continue through the expansion of financial wellness, a component of the movement specifically focused on helping individuals ease economic stress, overcome money challenges and promote financial health.

With financial stress cited as a common workplace distraction, a financially-focused wellness initiative will become a higher priority among businesses and human resource teams moving forward. For your business owner clients, adding a financial wellness component to their retirement plan fully optimizes the benefit for both employer and employees. Employers should give strong consideration to how health and financial wellness initiatives work together to create an advantage for employees – and their bottom line – when evaluating their benefits packages.

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50 Tips to Improve Your Finances in 2015

fin1-300x168.jpgThe new year is the perfect time to hit "refresh" on your finances. Whether you need to update your insurance, revamp your budget or scale back some shopping habits, take some time to consider these 50 action steps. They can help you improve your finances over the next 12 months.

1. Decide on financial goals.

For some people, there's nothing more appealing than saving for a three-bedroom house with a white picket fence. Others dream of taking a trip around the world or a sabbatical from work. Choosing your money goals makes it easier to work toward them.

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Four Items Continue to Impact The Retirement Industry 

December 18, 2014

retirement

Rebecca Moore

40521340_s.jpgThe retirement plan industry is an ever-evolving landscape, shaped each year by growing and emerging trends, as well as prior and new legal initiatives.

Tami Simon, managing director of the Knowledge Resource Center at Buck Consultants at Xerox, in Washington, D.C., says retirement plan sponsors are going to continue to focus on spending on their retirement programs, shifting from a shorter-term reactionary point of view to a more strategic perspective. They will look at how their plans fit with the goals of the company and try to restore confidence and a sense of financial well-being for their employees.

Trends

Plan sponsors will promote and offer services to help employees manage day-to-day finances, as well as help them understand how to save properly based on their standard of living at different ages, according to Simon. “Employers are stepping up to help employees manage longer-term finances, since employees are not saving enough for retirement,” she says.

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A Look Back at Financial Wellness in 2014

December 18, 2014

Financial Wellness

FinFit Staff

logo.png— Financial Benefits Programs Gaining Momentum Nationwide —

For many employers, the need to attract and retain the best and brightest
personnel has renewed their focus on competitive benefits packages. However, the key to customizing a winning package is to select those benefits that are most valued by employees without breaking the bank.

Not all benefits are created equal. For example, while some workers may desire
tuition benefits for continuing education, these programs generally cost a great deal
and produce diminishing return on investment.

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What will Impact the Retirement Industry in 2015?

December 18, 2014

retirement

Rebecca Moore

 

40521340_s.jpgThe retirement plan industry is an ever-evolving landscape, shaped each year by growing and emerging trends, as well as prior and new legal initiatives.

Tami Simon, managing director of the Knowledge Resource Center at Buck Consultants at Xerox, in Washington, D.C., says retirement plan sponsors are going to continue to focus on spending on their retirement programs, shifting from a shorter-term reactionary point of view to a more strategic perspective. They will look at how their plans fit with the goals of the company and try to restore confidence and a sense of financial well-being for their employees.

Trends

Plan sponsors will promote and offer services to help employees manage day-to-day finances, as well as help them understand how to save properly based on their standard of living at different ages, according to Simon. “Employers are stepping up to help employees manage longer-term finances, since employees are not saving enough for retirement,” she says.

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Wellness Programs: Going Beyond One Size Fits All

employee-272x300.jpgIncreasing participation in a particular activity can be done with incentives, “but you can’t buy commitment to health,” says Alexander Domaszewicz, a principal and senior consultant with Mercer. “Getting people committed to health takes other influencers and motivators.”

That’s the state of wellness programs in the workplace, Domaszewicz says, trying to make a program as valuable as possible and doing so in a meaningful way. “We’re enhancing and refining as we go,” he says.

More employers are using outcomes-based incentives, says Beena Thomas, Optum’s vice president of health and wellness. “It increases personal responsibility,” she says. Financial incentives, like premium reductions for employees who meet biometric thresholds, are widely used, but there are other strong motivators, Domaszewicz says. People are more likely to participate if an activity is easy and accessible, he says. Participation is less likely if an activity is difficult, he says, even if there is money attached to it.

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Less Than Half of Americans Saved for the Holidays

December 15, 2014

savings

Marlene Y. Satter

Broken_bank.jpgAmericans are saving less, and that could be one reason they haven’t gone hog-wild over reportedly less-than-stellar deals in the lead-up to the holidays.

That’s the word from the Country Financial Security Index, which has been tracking consumers’ downward arc in their ability to save since 2007.

According to the index, only 42 percent of Americans were able to put money away for either savings or investments over the past two months. When the index began in 2007, the pre-recession saving rate was 55 percent — still not great, but far better than it is now.Those aged 40-49 seem to be having the roughest time, with only 32 percent saying they managed to sock away any money to use for holiday shopping.

Things could be worse: Seventy-five percent reported they are confident about being able to pay their bills on time. Pity the poor millennials, though. Only 62 percent of them said they can get those bills down.

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5 Reasons Retirement is More Uncertain

40521340_s.jpgThe City of Detroit recently resolved its bankruptcy case and residents and businesses in the city are looking forward to better days. Retirees, however, will have to learn to make do with less, as the Detroit Free Press reports that those covered by the general retirement system will see "a 4.5 [percent] cut to their monthly pension checks, as well as seeing the elimination of cost-of-living adjustments and a complex clawback involving an annuity savings plan."

The challenges faced by municipal retirees in Detroit are not all that different than those today's employees across the nation face, albeit much nearer term as this reduction will hit their budgets now, not in 10, 20 or 30 years.

For all but the wealthiest, a guarantee to a comfortable retirement does not exist, and changes in the law, business practices and the economy are making it all the more elusive.

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Avoiding Open Enrollment Anxiety

December 10, 2014

health, benefits

Michael Giardina

stressed-300x216.jpgOpen enrollment has been an annual headache for employers, even before the presence of the Affordable Care Act and the numerous plan changes towards more employee consumerism that followed. But next year, the health care law’s employer mandate becomes a reality for many. Lisa Marie Monnig, program director of claims and benefits at Accolade, a consumer engagement healthcare company, explains how employers can ensure that open enrollment is a smooth process for everyone involved.

Do plans of attack and engagement efforts change with each plan type?

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Employers Not Dropping Health Coverage in 2015

December 09, 2014

health, benefits

Alan Goforth

33214038_m.jpgMost health plan sponsors are not making major changes to their employee coverage for 2015. However, employees can expect to see continued implementation of changes that have been made incrementally for the past several years.

Those are the primary findings from “What to Expect During Open Enrollment Season,” which is part of the recent health benefits survey conducted by Employee Benefit Research Institute.

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Budget: Have you been Naughty or Nice?

December 04, 2014

budget, financial stress

FinFit Staff

FinFit Logo

Tis’ the Season when many of us start feeling financial stress around the holidays, but for those who are already struggling, this may be a particularly difficult time of year. So, whether you have been naughty or nice with your finances this year, FinFit is making a list and checking it twice!!

Consider the following tips to help reduce financial stress during the holiday season:

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Being Thankful This Holiday Season

December 02, 2014

benefits

FinFit Staff
happy-holidays.jpgWorking in benefits has its share of challenges, but it can also be very rewarding. In advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, we asked industry professionals what they are grateful for, and their happiest successes in 2014.
Jennifer Weinstein, director, health and benefits strategy, McKesson On LinkedIn: "It's great to work in benefits because it's an opportunity to touch every aspect of business -- sales, finance, legal, communications, HR, compliance, etc. -- a benefits professional uses tools from all of these areas to develop strategy, drive engagement, and create programs for a healthy and productive workforce."

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Top 4 Items That Consumers Hate About Enrollment

stressed-300x216.jpgOpen enrollment is officially underway — and the majority of employees are not excited about it at all.

That’s because most employees have a host of grievances about the enrollment process. According to PlanSource, a cloud-based provider of benefits administration, for example, more than half (55 percent) say there is something they find frustrating about their employer’s benefits enrollment program.

Additionally, 52 percent said they would rather do any other unpleasant activity than endure the “laborious process” of enrolling in benefits.

PlanSource asked consumers what their top complaints about enrollment were aside from cost — which would undoubtedly be cited as the top complaint given continuous premium increases.

Here’s what they said.

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