Tag Archives: Benefits

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

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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

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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.

Introducing My Secure Advantage

Are you a benefits-eligible with questions about taxes, or financial peace of mind?  Are you struggling with credit card debt?  Check out what our new financial wellness program,  My Secure Advantage (MSA), can offer-

YOUR FREE FINANCIAL WELLNESS WEBINAR- MAKING TAX RETURNS LESS TAXING – Feb. 9th
Is there any obligation that causes more anxiety than filing our tax returns? For many people, the answer to that question is NO! This presentation features a tax specialist who will discuss the key elements of a tax return and will address some of the most common errors made in filing. There will also be some practical tips offered to make filing your taxes less taxing.

9am PDT SIGNUP
12pm PDT SIGNUP

READ: Important Tax Dates
We all know April 15th is the due date for tax returns, but what about other dates? Here are some important dates to watch out for… read more

READ: Relief for Tax and Credit Card Debt
With tax and credit card debt, Laura needed financial direction and relief. Working with her trusted Money Coach was just the ticket….read more

EVENT: Live Financial Forum
This is your chance to get answers! On Wednesday, February 24th, My Secure Advantage (MSA) will host another Live Financial Forum….read more

9am PDT SIGNUP
12pm PDT SIGNUP

 

WEBINAR: A Path to Financial Peace of Mind

On February 25th, come hear about your opportunity to work with a Money Coach to overcome financial stress and achieve your financial dreams…read more

9am PDT SIGNUP

REWARDS: Take Action and Win!
You get the chance to win cool prizes, when you engage in the MSA program, work with a Money Coach, and attend webinars…read more

LEARN MORE

MAKE FINANCES A PRIORITY. SIGN UP FOR THE MSA NEWSLETTER TODAY.

Important Benefits Reminders

Trouble-free employee benefit plan administration requires a strong partnership between employees and Human Resources. The Human Resources Department works diligently each year-end to accurately process the thousands of required or requested benefit record changes and then to check and double-check our work.  However, in the end, we also must rely on you, the employee, to do your part in managing your benefits by confirming that you are enrolled in the benefits you intended to elect.  Please carefully review your first paycheck and let us know if you have questions or if anything seems amiss.

Medical/Dental Insurance

  • New ID cards were mailed for all medical plan participants in December. These new ID cards have information regarding our new pharmacy benefit manager, MagellanRx, including their group and plan number, as well as their customer service phone number. Please confirm that you have received your new ID card. If you did not receive your new ID cards or if you need additional cards (for example, for a child away at college) call CBA Blue customer service (1-888-222-9206).
  • If you made a change to who is covered under your medical or dental plan, your new ID cards should reflect those changes.  If your new ID cards do not list the correct family members please contact Nancy Lindberg x3372 or Franklin Daniel x5755.
  • As was announced in October, there was a modest increase in employee portion of the medical premiums for 2016.  Premium increase amounts vary by coverage and income level. In addition, the out-of-pocket maximum for the prescription plan increased from $500 to $600, but other plan design features remain stable, meaning that there will be no increase in employee cost-sharing through changes in deductibles, co-insurance, the medical out-of pocket maximum, prescription co-pays etc. Also, any employee who made coverage level (single/2 person/family) changes should see a premium change in the first paycheck of 2016.
  • The employee Dental Plan premiums did not increase for 2016. However, any employee who made coverage level (single/2-person/family) changes should see a premium change in the first paycheck for 2016.

Vision Insurance

  • As a reminder our vision plan is with Vision Service Plan (VSP).  No ID card is required (just tell your VSP provider the last 4 digits of your SSN and date of birth). A summary of the plan and other helpful information is available on-line at http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/benefits/vision.  The premium for the Vision Plan did not increase for 2016 and the plan design will remain the same, except that the in-network allowance for frames or elective contact lenses was enhanced from $130 to $150.

Voluntary Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance

  • Premiums changes related to a change in coverage amount or age-band changes (5 year increments) should be reflected in the first paycheck in 2016. If you made changes or you hit a new age band in 2015, please confirm that your premium changed.
  • Requests for new life coverage or for increases in life coverage over the guarantee issue amount are not effective until approved by UNUM. An Evidence of Insurability form must be submitted by you to UNUM if you have requested this type of change. UNUM will notify you directly of approval or denial. Any premium changes will be made as of the effective date of the approved coverage.

Flexible Spending Accounts

  • Elections in Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts for 2016 should be reflected in the first paycheck. Please review your pay stub and confirm that your contribution is correct (divide your total annual election by 26 to calculate your per pay-period election.)
  • If you are a new Flexible Spending Account plan participant (you were not enrolled in a FSA last year) then FSA Benefits Cards were mailed to your home address in mid-December.  If you had a FSA last year you will not be issued a new card as they are valid for 3 years.  If your card is three years old, it will be good through January 31st and a new card will be issued by mid-January. The Benefits Card can be used to access funds in your Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. Important information about the FSA Benefits Card is available at http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/benefits/flex.
  • You have until March 15, 2016 to file claims against your 2015 Flexible Spending Accounts for expenses incurred in 2015. The FSA claim form and other helpful information on Flexible Spending Accounts can be found at http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/benefits/flex. Please visit CBA Blue’s website at http://select.cbabluevt.com/middlebury/ to review your account information.

Retirement

  • If you submitted forms prior to the holiday break requesting changes to your Voluntary Retirement Plan or to enroll in the 457b Salary Deferral Supplemental Retirement Plan, your new elections should have been reflected in your first paycheck of 2016. If you requested changes please confirm that your elections are as expected. If you have made a change to who is covered on your medical or dental plan and you have not received your new ID card(s), or if a benefit deduction doesn’t look right to you, or if you have any other questions or concerns about your benefits, please contact Franklin Daniel at x5755.

Your Benefits Team

Nancy Lindberg, Benefits Specialist (Health/Dental/Vision/Flex Spending) x3372

Franklin Daniel, Benefits Specialist (Retirement Plans & Retiree and Active Medical/Dental/Vision) x5755

Cheryl Mullins, Acting AVP of Human Resources x5542

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment for Middlebury’s 2016 Health & Welfare Benefit Plan is being held from November 1 – 14, 2015.  All benefits-eligible employees are required to complete the open enrollment process within this time period even if they do not intend to make benefit changes for 2016.

Open enrollment is your opportunity to:

• Continue your current medical, dental, or vision elections into the new year OR add coverage for yourself and/or dependents OR terminate your own or your dependents’ coverage.
• Continue your current voluntary life and/or accidental death and dismemberment coverage for the new year OR increase OR decrease the amount of existing coverage in these plans.
• Enroll in the health care and/or the dependent care flexible spending account(s) for next year. If you do not make an FSA election, you will not be contributing for 2016 even if you participated in 2015.  For Q&A’s on the Health Care FSA rollover click here.

Open Enrollment must be completed, using Banner Web, between November 1 – 14, 2015.  Benefits eligible employees will be able to access the open enrollment module from any computer with internet access.

Getting Started
1. Access the Open Enrollment System:

• Click this link: http://go.middlebury.edu/bannerweb OR
• On the bottom right-hand corner of the Middlebury homepage http://www.middlebury.edu/  click “Quick Links” and then “Banner Web”

2. Enter your Banner Web User ID (your Midd ID number) and your PIN and click “Login”.
3. Click “Employee”, then “Benefits and Deductions”, and then “Open Enrollment”.

2016 Premium Rate Chart

Benefit Refresher Meetings

3 Sessions remaining for this round of benefit refresher meetings.  More Benefit Refresher meetings will be scheduled in 2016 to review other benefit topics.

Do you have questions about your Middlebury College employee benefits?  Has it been a while since your Benefit Orientation? Unsure if Flexible Spending is right for you? Come join your Faculty and Staff colleagues at a Benefits Refresher Open Meeting where we will review highlights of the Medical, Dental & Vision plans, Flexible Spending Accounts and Voluntary Life and AD&D.  We will also leave time for your questions.

Refresher courses will be held on:

  • Monday, November 9th, 1:30-2:30, on-line*
  • Tuesday, November 10th, 4:00-5:00, on-line*  – New session added
  • Wednesday, November 11th, 3:00-4:00, Crest Room, Middlebury Campus

Please register for the course by clicking here so we know how many snacks to bring.  We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

* On-line refresher meetings will be conducted using Adobe Connect.  A link to the meeting will be sent out to enrollees on morning of the session.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment for Middlebury’s 2016 Health & Welfare Benefit Plan is being held from November 1 – 14, 2015.  All benefits-eligible employees are required to complete the open enrollment process within this time period even if they do not intend to make benefit changes for 2016.

Open enrollment is your opportunity to:

• Continue your current medical, dental, or vision elections into the new year OR add coverage for yourself and/or dependents OR terminate your own or your dependents’ coverage.
• Continue your current voluntary life and/or accidental death and dismemberment coverage for the new year OR increase OR decrease the amount of existing coverage in these plans.
• Enroll in the health care and/or the dependent care flexible spending account(s) for next year. If you do not make an FSA election, you will not be contributing for 2016 even if you participated in 2015.  For Q&A’s on the Health Care FSA rollover click here.

Open Enrollment must be completed, using Banner Web, between November 1 – 14, 2015.  Benefits eligible employees will be able to access the open enrollment module from any computer with internet access.

Getting Started
1. Access the Open Enrollment System:

• Click this link: http://go.middlebury.edu/bannerweb OR
• On the bottom right-hand corner of the Middlebury homepage http://www.middlebury.edu/  click “Quick Links” and then “Banner Web”

2. Enter your Banner Web User ID (your Midd ID number) and your PIN and click “Login”.
3. Click “Employee”, then “Benefits and Deductions”, and then “Open Enrollment”.

2016 Premium Rate Chart