A close look at financial planning tools for employees during every stage of their career
Editor’s note: Want to dive deeper? Listen to this episode of the POPS! The People Ops Podcast with Pam Krueger.
Almost 3 out of 4 employees (74%) say they live from paycheck to paycheck, according to research by the American Payroll Association and the National Endowment for Financial Education. And almost three in 10 adults have no emergency savings at all, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index.
Even those with enough money to pay the bills worry about if they’re saving enough for retirement or their kids’ higher education. We know how important it is to help employees reduce their financial stress.
As a small business, you’re already helping them improve their financial health by offering them benefits such as:
And while these resources are great on their own, you could move the needle even more to connect your employees with simple, proven educational tools that empower them to save, manage, and invest their money in a way that gives them greater peace of mind and more confidence.
You don’t need to build out a complex educational program in-house or hire financial wellness specialists. All you need to do is point them toward vetted, free (or practically free) online tools they can start using today that will increase their financial literacy and support financial peace of mind during all stages of their careers. Let’s take a look at 3 of the all-stars of financial planning.
The best tool for career starters
You Need a Budget helps users manage and gain control over their personal finances.
Employees in their 20s and 30s often struggle to make ends meet. They’re trying to figure out how to pay for their living expenses, student loans, and credit card debt. This is while they are trying to put away some emergency cash, plus contribute to their retirement plans.
But even those who have been in the workforce for years often have trouble keeping track of where their money is going.
That’s why just about everybody could benefit from an app like You Need A Budget (YNAB). For less than $15 a month, this is a powerful low-cost app that not only helps employees learn how to create a budget, but also shows them why they want one in the first place.
The developers claim that people who use YNAB are saving, on average, $600 in their first 2 months and $6,000 a year after their first year. This is done mostly by monitoring spending. The app helps employees feel good about getting their finances organized by showing them how to allocate their paychecks to pay for their everyday expenses, reduce student loan or credit card debt, and save more for emergency funds and retirement.
The best tools for mid-career employees
Betterment is a financial planning tool that automates investing.
At mid-career, many employees may have their everyday finances more or less figured out. One of their biggest concerns is that their financial lives have become a balancing act. They are deciding how to fund their biggest priorities — a mortgage, college tuition, and retirement — and figuring out whether the money they’re investing is doing all it can to secure their future.
A new generation of so-called robo-advisors, like Betterment and Blooom, help investors access the markets and optimize their investments at reasonable costs.
Blooom is a robo advisor for investment management.
The apps recommend a targeted mix of low-cost index funds based on each investor’s specific financial objectives. Users can manage their portfolio at a fraction of the expenses charged by most financial advisors.
How to allocate the money in a retirement plan is often the most important decision an employee can make, and both these apps help take the guesswork out of the process.
Blooom also has a unique “retirement plan audit” feature that analyzes the costs of the funds in an employee’s 401(k) plan and recommends lower-cost alternatives.
The best tools for employees closing in on retirement
For employees approaching retirement — even 5 years out — the stakes have never been higher. While they often have a lot of money saved, they also have to make it last for possibly 30 years or more.
By then, there are more layers and complexities within their family’s personal finances.
Soon-to-be retirees need help figuring out how and where to roll over their 401(k) or 403(b) balances, and how much money they’ll need to live the lifestyle they want. When they should start taking Social Security benefits. And how they can pass their wealth on to their heirs and favorite causes in a tax-efficient manner.
These are complex issues and call for personalized advice from an unbiased financial professional. Most late-career employees will benefit most by working with an experienced, trustworthy fiduciary investment adviser and financial planner who is both legally and professionally committed to always serving in their clients’ best interests.
Wealthramp offers a network of independent, fiduciary, fee-only financial advisors.
These are “fee-only” financial advisors who work only for their clients, and not as commissioned sales reps at brokerage firms or agents for insurance companies.
It’s not easy for employees to research and then access these vetted independent advisers on their own. You can help by pointing them to Wealthramp, a free online matching service where employees can privately search for the advisors who fit their personal circumstances.
Disclosure: The author of this article, Pam Krueger, is the founder and CEO of Wealthramp.
After employees fill out a short questionnaire, Wealthramp provides no more than 3 fiduciaries who align with their priorities. These advisers have been personally vetted by the CEO and founder to ensure that they meet the highest standards of fiduciary responsibility. Wealthramp provides support and education to help employees understand how advisors work and how much they charge for their services.
It’s never too late to start saving
The great thing about all of these online tools is that you don’t need to formally add them to your benefits package to make them available to your employees.
The HR team can simply get familiar with each tool, then communicate how these resources help employees who can then sign up on their own.
It’s always a great idea to check in with employees and survey those who have used these tools effectively and share their success stories. This makes it easy for you to offer additional financial fitness programs with no strings attached.