The jobs picture remains depressed with unemployment holding above 8%. But work mobility is clawing back and you may finally be thinking about your next move.
One thing to consider is that a new employer’s benefits plan may be vastly different from the one you have now. Odds are you won’t be eligible for a traditional pension, and hundreds of companies tweaked their 401(k) plan during the recession. These and other benefits should be carefully weighed.
“When you leave a job or take on a new one, there are multiple factors to consider that could significantly influence your future,” Stuart Ritter, senior financial planner with fund company T. Rowe Price, says in a new report. If you are changing jobs, he says, you should consider these items:
- Your new workplace retirement plan It may or may not stack up well against your old plan. Many companies reduced their employee match during the downturn. Most have restored the match, but by no means has it been universal. In any case, try to save more—15% of gross pay, including the company match, is a good target. Don’t simply default to your old savings pattern. You may now earn more or your commute may cost less, enabling you to set more aside. You’ll also have to decide what to do with the assets in your old plan—roll them into an IRA, roll them into your new employer’s plan, leave them in your old plan or cash them out. The cash-out is a clear mistake.
- Health and other benefits Your family probably still has the same needs but your benefits may be different. Use the transition to find the most efficient way to get the right amount of life insurance and disability coverage. “Your new employer may offer a benefit that you previously had to buy on your own…Or it may not offer a benefit that you rely on,” Ritter writes. “Evaluate your needs and compare the available benefits offered by your new employer and your spouse’s employer.”
- Flexible spending accounts Make the most of these accounts, which allow you to pay for certain medical and child-care expenses with pre-tax dollars. Sign up right away to get pro-rated benefits for the rest of the year and make sure you submit enough eligible expenses to take full advantage of your account with your former employer. This is a great time to buy new eyeglasses or stock up on medicine, if you must, to exhaust you’re the money available to you.
- Beneficiary designations Now is the time to review the beneficiaries you have listed on your retirement plan. You may have had another child. You may have divorced and remarried. You may have had your parents or a sibling named as beneficiary since before you married. Changing beneficiaries to reflect your current situation is an often-overlooked part of financial planning. But it is an important part of keeping your financial goals on track.
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