With all of that in mind, this is an ideal time to organize your resources so you can be better prepared to navigate today’s challenging economic environment without sacrificing your financial future. Here are five simple steps you can take both to regain some control over today’s portfolio pressure and to continue building a brighter tomorrow.How to improve your financial health starts here:
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1. Ask for help.
Did you know that many employers offer access to financial education, advice and resources as part of their benefits package? If not, you’re in good company: Our second annual State of the Workplace study (opens in a new tab) showed that 47% of employees have never thought about or are not sure if they can contact their employer for help.
We also found that 90% of employees and 96% of HR managers prioritize reevaluating benefit packages this year, and an overwhelming 96% of HR managers agree that their company needs to do a job better by helping employees maximize the financial benefits offered to them.
In a way, this is great news – this is a time where you have an opportunity to make your voice heard, and one where many employers are paying close attention. Companies are emphasizing holistic financial wellbeing practices due to enter 2023, such as financial wellbeing programs, caregiver benefits (including flexible work schedules for employees who are caregivers), telehealth, mental health benefits, and stock compensation (opens in a new tab).
Take the time today to contact your workplace for help. See if your company offers additional financial benefits or support – you’ll never know unless you ask.
2. Educate yourself.
Before you buy gifts for everyone on your list, give yourself the gift of information. The end of the year is a good time to develop your financial knowledge and skills and review your financial plan or create one if you haven’t already.
What is a financial plan? It can be as simple as creating a monthly budget or saving $10 a month or as complex as working with a team of professionals on everything from wealth management to estate planning. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of tools online to help you figure out your budget and savings goals.
Many workplaces also offer financial education resources on topics ranging from budgeting and investing basics to retirement planning and education costs, and some even offer access to financial advisors or coaches.
There may also be employee resource groups or additional training courses on more specialized topics to help you build greater confidence and skills to address your unique financial situation, such as racial justice, climate change, gender equality and even more.
Another important topic is taxes, which are just around the corner. While your workplace probably can’t provide tax advice, it may be able to help connect you with information or more specialized financial professionals who can help.
3. Shake up the workplace.
The end of the year is also typically the time when companies invite employees to make elections for their health care and other benefits for next year. If cost and convenience are top priorities for you this season, you’re not alone: Nearly two-thirds (60%) of employees in the State of the Workplace study (opens in a new tab) he told us they’re paying much more attention as they review their workplace financial benefits this year.
Open enrollment season is an opportunity to learn more about your company’s comprehensive support system and the technology you’ll be using the rest of the year to leverage your benefits. Even if nothing has changed, take advantage of any trainings, webinars, and engagement initiatives your employer may offer. It can also be helpful to sit down and evaluate how you used your benefits throughout 2022 and how your needs might be similar or different next year.
If you’ve already completed your membership or are enjoying your partner’s benefits, don’t worry: many employers now also offer other financial benefits that you can access throughout the year, from classics like gym membership discounts and commuter benefits to comprehensive financial wellness suites and one-on-one financial coaching.
4. Plan to save.
Savings can often be the first thing we let go when money is scarce, assuming we have any savings, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) (opens in a new tab)a typical working family doesn’t have even a month of income saved outside of a retirement account.
While it may seem counterintuitive, do everything you can to avoid dipping into your savings to cover bills or expenses, and do your best to keep building up your savings (even if it means cutting back on vacation spending). Start with the bare minimum and figure out what works for your lifestyle, maybe it’s just setting aside $5 a month.
That said, fully funding your employer-sponsored retirement plan to earn any business matches offered is an effective and efficient way to invest in your financial future. Consider using the last few months of 2022 to try to maximize your retirement plan contributions: according to the IRS (opens in a new tab)in 2022, you can save up to $20,500 through your 401(k) plan, with up to $6,500 in additional contributions for those 50 and older and up to $6,000 in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), plus $ 1,000 more if you are 50 or older.
5. Be your own best friend.
Life happens, but there are always steps we can take to help us better understand our financial affairs (rather than letting our financial affairs get in the way). It can be difficult to balance, but try to prioritize your financial health today as a way to become best friends with your future self.
Stay focused on what you need, get help when you need it, and use this time to get all your ducks in a row so you can prepare for greater financial health, in 2023 and beyond.
This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information and data contained in this article were obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources external to Morgan Stanley. It does not provide personalized investment advice and has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and goals of the individuals receiving it. The strategies and/or investments discussed in this article may not be appropriate for all investors. Morgan Stanley recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial adviser. The suitability of any particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.
Morgan Stanley at Work, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and its affiliates and employees do not provide legal or tax advice. You should always consult and rely on your legal and/or tax advisors.
Morgan Stanley at Work services are provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, member SIPCand its subsidiaries, all wholly owned subsidiaries of Morgan Stanley.
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This article was written by and presents the opinions of our contributing consultant, not Kiplinger’s editorial staff. You can check advisor records with the SEC (opens in a new tab) or with FINRA (opens in a new tab).