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Financial wellness

It's important to check-in on your financial wellness and set new goals once a year, but knowing where to start can be difficult. Determine what’s important in your short-term and long-term financial future. Follow the steps below to work toward greater financial wellness.

Step 1: Set your goal, and make it SMART.

  1. Review our SMART goals guide.
  2. Choose a broad goal (below) to get additional tips and resources that can help you achieve your SMART goal. If your SMART goal doesn't align with one of the broad goals listed below, don't worry! Access resources to support your specific goals in the right-hand boxes.
  3. If you need help setting a goal, Fidelity's My Money Checkup tool can help you evaluate where you are financially and determine areas you can improve to move closer to financial wellness.

Step 2: Take steps to get there.

Create a budget

Creating a monthly budget can help you stay on track and avoid excess spending, but depending on your schedule and goals, it can also be helpful to outline your weekly or annual spending. To move toward creating a budget that works for you, follow the steps below:

  1. Complete a Saving and Spending Checkup using Fidelity's calculator, so you can get a high-level view of your spending and see where you might cut expenses so you can put more money toward your goals and save for the future.
  2. Create your budget using the tips and planning tools, including our expense tracking worksheet, available to you on the Financial Wellness Budgeting webpage.
  3. When you've created your budget, stick to it! TIAA's Managing Your Finances webpage recommends reviewing your budget quarterly and continuing to look for ways to cut expenses, since little changes add up over time.
  4. If you have many types of debt, or debt that's spread across many lenders, the How to Prioritize Your Debt video can give you tips for tackling it.

 

Need additional information or support? Consider accessing the Fidelity Create a Budget and Ditch Your Debt webinar, or get one-on-one help in creating and sticking to a budget from the MU Office of Financial Success. Or, check to see if we have an upcoming budgeting seminar or workshop on your campus (quarterly).

 

Pay down debt

Creating a monthly budget can help you stay on track and avoid excess spending, but depending on your schedule and goals, it can also be helpful to outline your weekly or annual spending. To move toward creating a budget that works for you, follow the steps below:

  1. Understand and assess your debt, and learn methods for paying it off, on the Financial Wellness debt and credit information webpage.
  2. If you have student debt, access the Fidelity Student Debt Tool to see if there's a better way to pay off your loans.
  3. If you need support as you develop a plan for paying off your debt, get one-on-one help from the MU Office of Financial Success.
  4. Research suggests individuals with a higher debt-to-asset-ratio have higher perceived stress and depression. If you're experiencing stress, the Employee Assistance Program is available to support you.

 

Need additional information or support? Consider accessing the Fidelity Create a Budget and Ditch Your Debt webinar, or access and read The Debt-Free Spending Plan: An Amazingly Simple Way to Take Control of Your Finances Once and for All on myLearn. Or, check to see if we have an upcoming debt management seminar or workshop on your campus (quarterly).

Research suggests individuals with a higher debt-to-asset-ratio have higher perceived stress and depression. If you're experiencing stress, the Employee Assistance Program is available to support you.

 

Save for an emergency

If you are just beginning to save, experts typically recommend the first thing you save for is an emergency fund. Any savings can help you stay afloat in an emergency, but having enough to cover three to six months of your expenses can keep you financially well in moments of distress.

  1. Determine how much you need to save in case of an emergency with the Smart About Money calculator or the CashCourse emergency savings worksheet.
  2. Work your emergency savings into your budget. Our pay down debt section has tips for helping you adjust your expenses.
  3. To help prevent medical emergencies, and with them emergency expenses, keep up on preventive care. University insurance plans include preventive care at no out-of-pocket expense. 
    • If you have a high-deductible health plan, an HSA can also be a useful savings vehicle to help cover medical expenses.
  4. Consider placing your emergency funds in savings vehicles that you can access quickly but can provide a return on investment.
 

Care for a dependent

Finding great care options for your child or elderly loved one can be time consuming, and that care can often be a large portion of your monthly expenses. Help manage or reduce the cost of care for your dependents using the resources below:  

  1. Consider using a Dependent Care FSA to reduce your taxable income and save pre-tax dollars to pay for out-of-pocket child and/or eldercare dependent expenses.
  2. Think about if a compressed workweek or flexible work hours might help you keep the cost of child or elder care more manageable. If so, chat with your manager about your options.
  3. If working from an alternate location one or more days a week might help you keep up with child or elder care cost, talk to your manager about flexible workplace arrangements.
  4. If you're caring for an elderly loved one, Solutions for Caregivers is a free program that can support you with phone consultations and in-home assessments; discounts on caregiver-related products and services; task-management tools; and more.
 

Save for retirement

Planning for retirement means establishing a lasting financial plan so you can build the future you want. Start saving for retirement or check in on your overall strategy with the resources below:

  1. Attend our quarterly on-campus seminars and workshops to focus in on the specifics of retirement planning and learn industry best practices from a Fidelity representative.
  2. If you're ready to shape your retirement years now, get started in a retirement planning bootcamp with MU Extension's How to get an A in retirement course.
  3. Use the newly-launched Pension Benefits Portal to review your personal retirement plan data and estimate your pension benefits at retirement based on the information you have on file with the University.
  4. Access books on retirement planning, saving and spending, including Plan for Your Prosperity, in myLearn.

For additional information on the plans available to you or your own retirement savings, explore the Fidelity's UM System retirement webpage or access our retirement webinars that cover a variety of topics. For one-on-one support and guidance as you navigate your retirement options, book an appointment with a UM System retirement specialist or a Fidelity or TIAA representative.

 

Invest for your future

Saving and investing often go hand-in-hand, but it's important to understand the basics of investing so you understand the best way to put your savings to work. Learn more with the resources below:

  1. Learn about your risk tolerance, and about the different investment vehicles available and which work best for your needs on our saving and investing educational webpage.
  2. Book a one-on-one consultation with a Fidelity or TIAA representative who can help you understand your investment options and evaluate the benefits of each.
  3. If you have an HSA, you can grow your health savings by choosing to invest your balance, or part of your balance. Check out Optum Bank's HSA Investment Guide for additional information.
  4. Build your investing knowledge with a book in myLearn, like Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future or Investing in Your 20s and 30s for Dummies.

If you're new to investing or are interested in learning about investing topics like market volatility or socially responsible investing, access Fidelity's investing webpage.


Step 3: Get help when you need it.

Visit the links featured in the boxes on this page to be directed to the particular financial wellness resource that works for you. Or, reach out to any of the representatives below:

  • For general questions, or to learn about the resources available to you, contact the HR Service Center.
  • For questions about your core retirement plan and savings, reach out to a UM retirement specialist at (573) 882-2146 or (800) 488-5288.
  • For information on your voluntary retirement savings options, or for financial consultation, reach out to Fidelity or TIAA.

 

Reviewed April 23, 2018.