Tag Archives: Benefits

From MSA- The Keys to Less Stress and a Happy Life

Karly-635x357Want the keys to less stress and a happy life?  Karly found the answer when she started working with a MSA Money Coach, an experience that has enriched her finances and her life.  The best part?  The keys are within your reach as well.

Karly had $58,000 in debt keeping her from a care-free life.  Any money left over each month got swallowed up by bills and unexpected expenses.  To make matters worse, Karly and her husband just had a baby, bought a new house on the West Coast, and realized they were fifteen years away from retirement with absolutely no savings.

Needless to say, they were desperate to turn things around.

When Karly entered the MSA Financial Wellness program (offered through her employer, a university of California), she started working with a Money Coach, Rachelle, who gave her hope for a better life.  “I came to MSA with a lot of debt.  My Money Coach helped me put together a doable plan to tackle the debt [and] has been very instrumental in getting me on a livable spending plan….  For the first time in a while, I see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I am so grateful for her guidance!!!”

In a nutshell, Rachelle’s answer to Karly’s problems was a budget and an accountability partner.

With Rachelle’s help, Karly hit the ground running:  “Rachelle is always so encouraging and a cheerleader for my financial accomplishments.  She can be firm when necessary but, again, in a way that empowers you and makes you feel like you can accomplish the task!!!”

So what did Karly accomplish exactly?  And how did they use a budget to create a stress-free, happy life?

Rachelle and Karly took an in-depth look at the family finances: income, expenses, debts, savings, and goals.  From there, they made an action plan and started to see the fabulous results.

  • They calculated that Karly could put $1,700 towards debt each month.  Originally, Karly was set to pay off debt in eight years, but now she can wipe out the debt in less than half that time, and the new plan has already allowed her to reduce her overall debt by $12,000!
  • Karly didn’t have any kind of savings, so Rachelle helped her allocate money each month just for that purpose.  Now she has close to $6,000 in emergency savings and $2,000 saved for irregular expenses.
  • Rachelle connected Karly with another Money Coach who is a retirement specialist.  They talked about additional contributions to retirement accounts and were able to meet Karly’s goal of $6,000/month in retirement income.

As Karly put it, “Rachelle is wonderful!!!”  She works in the real world, acknowledging that things happen, and we should enjoy life as well as plan for future enjoyment.  She has helped me to really take a look at all the extra expenses that pop up throughout the year and put these in my budget.  She’s also helped me to be honest about my spending habits, but did so in such a gently way, focusing on the positive of this knowledge.  I truly feel prepared for any emergency.  She coaches me and keeps my mind at ease through the bumps.  She is constantly reviewing my spending and offering ways to curb expenses.”

Even when Karly didn’t realize how much she was spending on discretionary items and got overloaded with surprise expenses, her Money Coach was there to get her back on track.

Rachelle explained that spending changes from month to month, so reviews are necessary for peace of mind, and, who knows, you may get a pleasant surprise.  Karly sure did.  When Rachelle helped Karly reassess her spending, they found that Karly had $600 left over every month (That’s $7,200 a year!), to which Rachelle suggested putting a portion towards savings and a portion towards debt.

All in all, Karly found the direction and relief she was looking for:  “[My Money Coach] has changed my view of a budget.  It’s not a painful drudgery, but a key to less stress and a happy life.  She often reminds me that I should not dread my budget, and if I do, we should tweak some things.”

The accountability and accomplishments Karly gained, through the MSA Financial Wellness program, were too great to let go, so Karly has continued reaping the benefits well beyond her employer-funded period.  In fact, she’s been working with her coach for several years.  She has also taken advantage of other parts of the program, like meeting with a tax specialist and signing up for ID Monitoring (MSA’s identity theft protection services).

Karly achieved financial peace of mind, and you can too!  Talk to a Money Coach today for the keys to less stress and a happy life.  Call 888-724-2326 today.

Register by Feb 16! Workshop Offering: Human Relations Skills – The Dale Carnegie Course

Workshop Offering: Human Relations Skills – The Dale Carnegie Course

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. I invested in the Dale Carnegie® program years ago and it was worth a college degree.”  – Warren Buffet

Please read the entire communication below if you are interested:

Dates: Tuesdays, February 23- April 12*, 2016 from 8:30 AM to Noon (8 sessions)

Location: Kirk Alumni, main room

Facilitator: Agnes Cook

*Graduation lunch on April 12 from 12:00-12:30

Click here for more information and to register: Dale Carnegie Course Registration *

Register by February 16th to reserve a seat

You will be able to:

  • Create a Professional Vision
  • Set and Achieve Your Goals
  • Present Your Ideas with Clarity
  • Enhance Your Leadership Skills
  • Coach and Motivate for Success
  • Stay Positive in Critical Situations
  • Build Trust and Integrity with Others
  • Build Relationships across the Organization

This course qualifies for the Middlebury Continuing Education Benefit*:

If you would like to receive funding to attend:

  1. Please first click here to get more information about the program from Dale Carnegie or register or contact Agnes Cook at agnes_cook@dalecarnegie.com
  2. Then click here to complete and submit a Middlebury Continuing Education Fund Application. If question arise about this step of the process, please contact Petrina teRiele in Human Resources at pteriele@middlebury.edu
  3. Please also discuss with this your supervisor to get the appropriate approval to attend (if questions arise regarding this please contact Laura Carotenuto in Human Resources at lcaroten@middlebury.edu)

*This Dale Carnegie course is accredited and offers 2.8 CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) and is supported by the Continuing Education Fund Benefit. Participants are required to participate in at least 7 out of the 8 classes to receive CEU credits. If you miss classes, make up classes for all sessions are available in the Dale Carnegie Essex, VT location.

My Secure Advantage Update/Webinar

Human Resources is pleased to report that the new “My Secure Advantage” (MSA) financial wellness program which is offered in partnership with E4 (our Employee and Family Assistance Program) got off to a remarkably successful first month: between January 4th and the 31st 46 benefits-eligible Middlebury employees enrolled themselves in the program! And the initial feedback we have received from those using the Money Coaching program has been overwhelmingly positive!  According to MSA, the top three areas of interest for Middlebury participants have been: debt reduction, retirement planning and budgeting.  Might you be interested in those or other money-related topics, too?    Whether you are suffering from financial stress or have some extra cash and are in a position to do some financial planning consider joining your “early adopter” colleagues and  taking advantage of what MSA can offer.  Please consider consulting with a Money Coach (888-724-2326) or joining MSA for a live financial webinar later this month (see signup information below).

Many members have asked that we continue our Financial Forum Series. We are happy to announce that we have scheduled a Financial Forum for each quarter of 2016. As usual, our panelists will address questions ranging from debt and budgeting, to investments and retirement. Since we are in the middle of tax season, we will also have a member of our tax team available to answer your tax-related questions. Submit a question when you register, then log into the webinar on February 24th to hear our panel address questions and concerns from people across the country.


MEET: Dave Jiru
35+ years’ experience in the financial services industry – Dave is a former Registered Rep. with the NASD and had Series 24, 7, 63 and 65 securities licenses. Dave manages the MSA Financial Ed. Dept. and is a frequent presenter of classes and seminars nationwide

MEET: Barbara Quan
Barbara has worked in financial services since 2001 as a loan officer for several mortgage firms, and she holds a California Real Estate License. She is a Certified Credit Counselor. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.

MEET: Donna Shackel
38+ years’ experience in tax and financial services – Donna is an EA and former IRS tax representative. She spent 10 years teaching tax law for both the IRS and California Tax Education Council. She is also a Certified Credit Counselor.


Important Tax Form Information

As you prepare to file your 2015 income taxes, you may be asked about a form called Form 1095-C. The Affordable Care Act requires employers to furnish Form 1095-C to current and past employees who were covered in the employer sponsored medical plan for all or any portion of the tax year. Very recently, the IRS extended this year’s deadline for employers to furnish to employees the Form 1095-C from February 1 to March 31, 2016.

Please be aware that the extension to employers should not impact or delay a tax filer’s ability to file their income taxes as usual. Individual income tax-filers are not required to submit Form 1095-C when they file their taxes this year.  When the form does arrive (around March 31), be sure to keep the form with your personal tax records as documentation.

You may need to know the answers to a few basic questions when preparing your return:

  • Does Middlebury’s plan meet the minimum essential coverage criteria as mandated by the Affordable Care Act?   Yes it does.
  • Were you covered for all 12 months of the year? Each employee should know the answer to this.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the Benefits Department in Human Resources at 802-443-3372.

Here are several links to the IRS website where more information on this topic can be found:




From MSA- What was your most recent ‘aha’ moment?


We’ve all had an ‘aha’ moment, when it comes to money.  Oftentimes, that moment is met with frustration and stress because it tells us that something needs to change in our lives.  And taking action can be hard.

For some, the ‘aha’ moment is more of an “oh no!” moment that comes when they stare at their bank account balances or their credit card statements.  It could be arguing with a spouse while waving an overdue bill in the air.  Or maybe it stems from the envy of seeing braggadocious social media pictures where your friends boast about how they have so much fun traveling and shopping.

It doesn’t always have to be negative.  A lot of the time, that revelation can be a great thing.  It could be something you saw on TV about the importance of creating college savings accounts for your kids or the importance of a will for your family.  It could be attending a friend’s party and seeing how amazing homeownership can be.  Or even letting out a long sigh as you sit on the beach during vacation because you did such a great job of saving for the last 12 months.  (Cheers to you!)

And if we’re lucky enough, that ‘aha’ moment happens to be a friend, a coworker, or a family member’s folly, and we are smart enough to learn from their mistakes.  Maybe it’s a friend who just lost her job and her house, and is struggling to stay afloat.  Perhaps it’s a coworker who just got stuck with a medical bill for which he has no emergency savings.  Maybe it’s an older relative who thinks he will never retire because he never put money into a 401k when he was younger.  In these instances, ‘aha’ moments are positive because we can proactively take action before the same thing happens to us.

While ‘aha’ moments can be both good and bad, long and short, stressful and reassuring – how you plan and react to them is what counts.

Hopefully, you are reading this because you have chosen the path of taking action rather than burying your head in the sand.  If you have had your ‘aha’ moment – congratulations!  We are glad you found us, and we are thrilled to help.

At MSA, we like to think of ‘aha’ moments as very positive even if they might not seem that way initially.  Our goal is to help you deal with ‘aha’ moments, plan for them, and turn them into positive experiences with one-on-one Money Coaching, accountability, and guilt-free guidance.  Together we can make the best of your ‘aha’ moments – let us show you how.  Start working with a Money Coach today at 888-724-2326.

From MSA- Better Finances for the New Year


Better Finances for the New Year

This is it!  This is the year you will be wiser with your money.  You plan to spend less than your income and to save money instead of falling further into debt.

Over half of Americans (55%) say they spend more than they make or just break even,1 which is probably why a third of resolutions are money related.  Unfortunately, 25% of resolutions don’t even survive the first week.2

This year, start off right with a few steps (mini resolutions, if you will) that will help you improve finances for the new year.

Plan for Irregular Expenses

Oftentimes, people are tempted to fall back on their credit cards and spend more than they can afford when they have an irregular expense that they didn’t fit in the budget.  It could be something like your car registration or your spouse’s birthday – things that don’t happen each month but do happen every year.

Instead of waiting for those expenses to come around and hoping you haven’t used your whole paycheck for the month, plan for it now.

Start by taking out a calendar.  As you look at each month, note the birthdays and holidays and other yearly expenses, and write down the amount you might possibly spend.  (Not sure how much?  Take a look at credit card statements and bank account records to see how much you spent last year.)  Then, use those amounts as starting points for planning and saving.

For example, say you noted that your nephew is graduating at the end of May, and you want to give him a brand new one-hundred dollar bill.  With his graduation roughly five months away (and assuming you get paid twice a month), all you have to do is save $10 from each paycheck between now and your nephew’s graduation.

Get a Financial First Aid Kit (a.k.a. Emergency Savings!)

Emergency funds are for the unforeseeable events, like your car breaking down on the freeway or losing your job.  Such a major event will knock you off balance if you’re not prepared financially.

Although an initial goal for your emergency savings account could be as low as $1,000, the ultimate goal would be to have at least three to six months (or more) of your fixed monthly expenses.  Once you have  your goal in mind, take a look at your budget and figure out how much of your paycheck you can allocate toward emergency savings.  For example, if you want to have $1,000 in emergency savings by the end of the year, you would allocate $84 a month towards emergency savings.

Remember, the first (and perhaps, most important) step is getting started.  Eventually, saving money will become a habit, and it will be easier to contribute more and more.

Work with a Personal Cheerleader

It’s much easier to keep going when you have someone cheering you on and holding you accountable.  An accountability partner should be someone who can hold up your list of resolutions, wipe away the doubt, and help you move forward, when you get stuck.

Your Money Coach is the perfect fit.

MSA Money Coaches are financial professionals with years of experience.  Together, you will devise a budget that takes all things into account and develop a step-by-step plan to achieve your goals.  You can work on items like a debt management plan, learn how to save for irregular and emergency expenses, and feel good about your spending.

MSA members, who work with a Money Coach, find the support and expertise to be key for achieving their goals.  One member said, “[My Money Coach] is my accountability – and I mean it in the best way….  He continues to be my rah-rah team and is a constant support.  I am successful because of his guidance and confidence in me.”

If you would like an accountability partner who is knowledgeable in finances and knows how to manage money in everyday life, talk to your Money Coach.  With a Money Coach by your side, you’ll be less likely to face surprises that derail your financial goals.

Call 888-724-2326 and get ready to check off your New Year’s resolution for better finances.