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Take advantage of ‘open rollment’

Posted October 23, 2013 in Advice Column, Beaverdale

It’s “open enrollment” season — the time you may change benefits you receive from your employer. As you review your benefits package, where should you focus?

•    Life insurance. If your employer offers life insurance, and you haven’t signed up, consider adding it during open enrollment — it can be important to your family’s financial security. If you have life insurance with your employer, take time to review your beneficiary designations. If you’ve had a change in your family situation, such as divorce or remarriage, update your beneficiaries, as needed.

Life insurance offered by your employer may not be sufficient for your needs, so consult with a financial professional to determine if you should add private or individual coverage. You may find that individual coverage is comparable, in terms of cost, to your employer’s coverage. Also, individual coverage is “portable” — that is, you can take it with you if you change jobs.

•    Disability insurance. Your employer may also offer disability insurance as a low-cost benefit. The coverage can be invaluable. In fact, nearly one in three women and about one in four men can expect to suffer a disability that keeps them out of work for 90 days or longer during their working years, according to the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education. Again, as was the case with life insurance, your employer’s disability policy may not be enough for your needs, so consider additional coverage.

•    Retirement plan. Your employer may offer a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. These plans offer the chance to contribute pretax dollars; so the more you put in, the lower your taxable income. Equally important, your earnings can grow tax deferred, which means your money can accumulate faster than if it were placed in an account on which you paid taxes every year.

Contribute as much as you can to your employer-sponsored plan. If you’ve gotten a raise, consider boosting your contributions. Take this opportunity to review the investments you’ve chosen. If you feel they’re underperforming and not providing you with the growth opportunities you need, consider making changes. You might think about making adjustments if your portfolio has shown more volatility than the level with which you are comfortable. Your financial professional can help you determine if your investment mix is suitable for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

Open enrollment season gives you the opportunity to maximize those benefits offered to you by your employer. Think carefully about what you’ve got and what improvements you can make — it will be time well spent.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor, Jim Talley.

Information from Edward Jones, provided by Jim Talley, financial advisor at Edward Jones, 2703 Beaver Ave., 279-4179.

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