Take a close look at the open registration options || Darren Gifford

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Once again it’s the season for soccer games and back to school activities. And if you work for a medium-sized or large employer, open enrollment season is about to begin—the time of year when you can review and, if necessary, change your employee performance. Which areas should you focus on?

Actually, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to all your benefits. Some of the offerings may have changed from last year – and you may also have experienced changes in your own life that could prompt you to look for something other than your existing benefits package.

You may want to start with your health insurance. If you are happy with your coverage and it is essentially the same as before, you may want to stick with what you have. However, many employers are increasingly offering high-deductible health insurance, which, as the name suggests,, may incur additional costs for you. However, plans with high deductibles can also offer benefits: the ability to contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). Your HSA contributions are paid with pre-tax dollars, so they can reduce your taxable income for the year. Plus, your income grows tax-free and your withdrawals are tax-free provided the money is used for qualifying medical expenses. (Withdrawals made before age 65 that are not used for qualifying medical expenses are taxable and sub

subject to a 20% penalty; Once you’re 65, the penalty lapses, although withdrawals are still taxable as income if they’re not used on a qualifying expense.)

Your Next Advantage Life Insurance. Your employer may offer a group life insurance plan, but you should check that it is sufficient for your needs, especially if you have experienced changes in your personal situation in the past year, such as a change in your life

Adding a new child. There is no magic formula for how much life insurance you need – you have to consider a variety of factors such as income, family size, mortgage, etc. – but it may be necessary to supplement your employer’s coverage with a private policy.

Your employer may also offer disability insurance as a benefit. Some employers’ disability plans are fairly limited and only cover short periods of time, so you may want to consider private insurance.

In addition to the various insurance policies your employer may offer, you should also take a close look at your 401(k) or similar retirement plan. You can typically make changes to your 401(k) throughout the year, but it’s important to make sure your investment choices and contribution amounts still align with your risk tolerance and goals. Also, are you contributing enough to earn your employer’s allowance, if one is offered? And if you’ve already got the match, can you still afford to put more into your plan if such a move makes sense to you?

Your employee benefits package can be a valuable part of your overall financial strategy. So, as the open enrollment season progresses, take a close look at what you already have, what’s on offer, and what changes you need to make. It will be time well spent.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

Edward Jones, Member SIPC.

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor about your situation.

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