Open enrollment season is fast approaching, which means that you’ll soon be asked to make a number of decisions about which employer benefits you want to take advantage of.
And while that may sound incredibly dry, it actually represents a big opportunity for you to strengthen your financial situation, one that often gets overlooked and underused.
Depending on what your employer offers, you can get help with everything from health care, to childcare, to retirement, to life and disability insurance, and more. And the dollar value of all those benefits can really add up.
But there’s a lot to sort through and this post will help you do it. We’ll walk through all the major benefits that might be available to you and what you should be looking for with each so that you can make the most of your open enrollment opportunities.
Health insurance is often the biggest and most helpful benefit that most employers offer, and it’s also usually the most confusing.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a number of choices between different plans and maybe even different insurers, giving you plenty of opportunity to choose the right plan for your family’s needs. But with that opportunity comes the responsibility of understanding the differences between those choices, which is no easy task.
So how do you sort through it all?
First, don’t assume that the health insurance you chose last year is automatically, or even likely, to be the best choice this year. It certainly may be, but it’s just as likely that one of the other options is better.
Second, you can follow a relatively simple process to find the right plan for your budget and your family’s needs. I detail that process here: How I Choose Health Insurance for My Family.
If you have a spouse or partner, you can include their health insurance options in that comparison as well. Then you can make the best decision for you and your family based on cost and coverage.
Health savings account (HSA)
Some of those health insurance options may allow you to contribute to a health savings account (HSA), which has a few big benefits:
- HSAs allow you to deduct contributions and use that money tax-free for qualified medical expenses, which essentially serves as a big discount on health care.
- HSAs are not “use-it-or-lose-it”, which means that any money that’s in your account at the end of the year simply rolls and can be used in future years, even if you no longer have an HSA-eligible health…