how to prepare for open enrollment in three simple steps

It’s not easy to feel confident in your financial health – especially today, as we continue adjusting to life during the pandemic. With so many things demanding your immediate attention, putting your own needs first – and particularly those impacting your finances – can be difficult. But it’s important to remember that taking the time to make these decisions for yourself now can save you a lot of stress and late-night worrying in the long run. (Trust me!)

This is especially true as we head into open enrollment – the period of time, typically in the fall, when U.S. employees can enroll in or make changes to their health coverage and other employer-offered benefits. Since changes to benefits are not available throughout the year (outside of major life events like getting married, or having a baby), it’s important to consider how your life may have changed this year. That way, you can be sure you’re electing the right benefits for your needs – and protecting your hard-earned paycheck along the way. 

Use these tips below to get started and ensure you’re making the most out of your open enrollment experience. 

Give yourself a financial “checkup”

Have your finances been directly impacted by the pandemic? What are your short-term financial needs and which long-term goals should you prioritize? How would you handle a sudden expense from an unexpected illness? The best first step to approaching open enrollment this year is taking stock of your financial health and considering which financial goals are most important to you. In a new survey from MetLife, 69% of employees say improving their financial health is one of their most important goals this year. Evaluate where you are and where you’d like to be, financially. From there, you’ll be able to better assess the different benefits your employer offers and determine which ones can help you meet your goals.

Ask questions to fill in the gaps

In order to feel confident in the benefits you’re selecting, you need to first understand your options. The trouble is, many people shy away from openly talking about their benefits, or don’t fully understand how different benefits can help protect them financially. In fact, MetLife research shows that one in eight employees feels insecure when it comes to making any decisions having to do with their employee benefits, and 47%  feels uncomfortable discussing their benefits with friends and family. Asking questions is how we learn, and when it comes to your financial future, having an honest conversation with people you trust can make all the difference. So if you have questions, or are unsure of how certain benefits can help protect you financially – ask a friend, HR professional, or family member who can help shed some light!

Look beyond what’s “traditional”

When you think “open enrollment,” you may think of medical, dental, or vision health coverage – but there are so many more employer-offered benefits that can help protect your finances. It’s important not to skim over the other perks made available by your employer. Consider accident and critical illness coverage, both provide lump sum payments that can offset high out-of-pocket medical costs, which are increasingly common with high deductible health plans. Covering expenses with this type of insurance can help you avoid dipping into your savings later. 

It can be challenging, but by evaluating your financial health now, allowing proper time to review your benefits, and asking questions when you have them, you will feel more secure in your open enrollment decisions this fall – and your finances, in the long run. If you have any questions, visit MetLife’s Open Enrollment landing page here.

I am an official brand partner of MetLife. While I receive compensation for my participation as a brand partner, opinions are mine. 

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The Finance Bar is a personal finance suite helping women and couples achieve financial wellness through coaching, education, and an innovative learning hub on wheels. Creator Marsha Barnes is a Certified Financial Social Worker, Official FICO Brand Ambassador, and was named the 2018 Best Money Expert in the Net-Worth Category.

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