Opinion: 5 Ways Your Employer Can Help With Your Holiday Finances – CNET

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but before you go into full vacation mode, take a moment to check in with your workplace: Your employer can be an overlooked but valuable resource to help you spice up your vacation.

Many employers offer programs and benefits that can help ease financial stress. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy the season without adding a financial burden, here are five ideas to help you enjoy the joys of the season while keeping your finances in check.

1. Set a holiday budget.

Recent research from Morgan Stanley found that people are still worried about high inflation, recession and market volatility, and these fears can dampen holiday spirits, especially as Americans spend an average of $1,455 per person during the holidays. according to Deloitte. Donating to charity, traveling to see loved ones and attending large celebrations can be very expensive. So it’s no surprise that the American Psychological Association found that about two out of five adults experience increased stress during the holidays, with financial issues affecting them. the most cited cause.

To ease any financial stress during the holidays, try setting a personal limit on how much you’re willing to spend, from airfare and hotel tickets to gifts and presents. A simple budgeting rule that we often recommend to participants in our workplace is the 50, 30, 20 rule, where 50% of your budget goes to covering needs, 30% to necessities, and 20% to savings and investments. Categorize your vacation expenses in the “wants” category and try not to dip into money set aside for necessities or savings. Check with your employer, too: they may have budgeting tools, educational resources about managing financial stress, or even access to special discount or reward programs to help offset your vacation expenses. For example, some workplace benefits providers offer access to additional benefits such as discounted entry to local cultural experiences and events, as well as lifestyle discounts on shopping, travel, entertainment, etc.

2. Give a thoughtful gift.

The holiday season is a great time to give back to the people and causes we care about, and there are many ways to give while protecting your financial health. There are even ways to give back in the workplace, such as participating in company-sponsored volunteer events, running campaigns where companies sometimes match employee donations, or using employee benefits or charitable donations in the workplace.

For example, you could potentially make a gift from a retirement distribution from your workplace 401(k) or employee stock purchase plan or equity compensation plan. In addition, more and more employers are offering their employees access to a charitable giving vehicle called a donor advised fund (DAF), which allows you to donate assets you already own directly to a charity and can potentially help reduce your tax impact. Check with your employer. and tax advisor to see if this might be a good option for you.

3. Get your debts in order.

Debt isn’t always negative, and many of us go into debt during the holidays to cover big purchases, trips, and even just to collect rewards points. If you’re in this place today, don’t worry, just take the time to carefully consider how vacation debt fits into your overall financial picture. Again, your employer may have resources to help you overcome your debt, from financial literacy training to access to financial coaching or counseling that you can use to build a personal financial plan that integrates your future goals and your current debt.

In our workplace financial education programs, we often say that debt is a reality and that there are ways to thoughtfully integrate proper debt management into your overall financial health. For example, it’s often a good idea to prioritize paying off the debt that charges you the highest interest rate and look for ways to use your debt as a strategy, such as taking out a mortgage to buy a house.

4. Protect yourself.

Unfortunately, the holiday spirit doesn’t stop some bad actors from trying to take advantage of others. This time of year we often see an increase in scams using slips, receipts, online surveys, gift cards, social media posts, text messages and fraudulent phone calls to phish for your personal and financial information.

Read: Abuse and financial scams can get worse during the holidays: 3 scams to watch out for and 3 signs of trouble

It’s easy to fall prey to such traps during the hectic holiday season, so be vigilant about your financial security as you look for ways to express your generosity and holiday spirit. Use all available resources to protect yourself and your information. Many companies may offer resources through their benefits programs to help you, such as financial education, identity theft protection services, or even access to fraud specialists.

5. Look ahead.

It is not selfish to make our own financial well-being a priority. If you’re feeling stressed or unsure whether you’re going to take care of this holiday season or managing any other aspect of your financial life, seek help.

Many companies offer access to a range of financial benefits and additional resources that can help you manage your finances and financial stress, from mobile apps and online tracking tools to access to professional support such as financial advisors to help you consider decisions and create personalized strategy for your money. It can be tempting to put real life on hold during the holidays, but time never stands still when it comes to building your financial future. Making financial decisions that protect your goals and help reduce stress, even during the most difficult times like the holidays, is an important practice in your ongoing financial journey.

Craig Rubino is the head of participant statistics, financial health and education for Morgan Stanley at work.

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