By Chelsea Krost
Maintaining good financial health is more than what you see on your bank statement – it’s expecting the unexpected and being ready when life throws you a curveball. As millennials start their careers, they’re entering a tough market and often face student loans, making it hard to build up a safety net.
If that wasn’t difficult enough, rising health care costs mean an accident or injury could potentially spell financial disaster. In fact, the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report1 found most workers (75 percent) at least somewhat agree that even with their health insurance coverage, their medical copays and other out-of-pocket costs are more than they can afford at times. This is an even bigger issue for millennials, who are more likely than other generations to lack the funds they would need to cover unexpected medical expenses.
With this in mind, there are three things you need to do now to protect your financial well-being down the line.
#1: Know the Facts
As millennials enter the workforce, proper planning and solid financial literacy are key to ensuring a comfortable financial future, but many are ill-prepared. Many (45 percent) workers lack solid financial plans, and worse, some aren’t doing their homework. The majority (55 percent) of millennials spend less than 30 minutes researching their benefits options, potentially losing hundreds of dollars due to mistakes.
Time spent researching, planning and preparing will be well spent, and is the best thing you can do to protect your future.
#2: Use Credit Wisely
Faced with a medical problem, money should be the least of your concerns, but health care costs can be a burden even with major medical insurance. Many Americans are living without a safety net, and 61 percent have less than $1,000 in the bank to pay for unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses. As a result, an accident or injury can force consumers to rack up credit card debt or borrow from their 401(k) just to get by – neither of which is a smart strategy.
While credit is useful in a pinch, building up a large amount of debt is a financial misstep, and missing payments can hurt credit scores. By setting money aside or having a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into a savings account, you can start to build up an emergency fund for unexpected costs.
#3: Get the Most Out of Benefits
As you assess your overall financial health, also take stock of your benefits and understand how they impact your budget. Taking advantage of preventative care paid for by your medical insurance will not only help you stay healthy, but can also help you avoid the associated costs of future health problems.
In addition, take the time to review your deductibles and premiums and ensure you have the ability to cover these costs. If not, talk to your employer about voluntary insurance policies. These plans provide cash benefits that can be used to assist with unexpected health care costs or to cover day-to-day expenses, and serve as an added layer of financial security.
Just as regular exercise is crucial for good health, your finances need routine attention to keep them on track. Doing your research, making careful choices and taking advantage of all aspects of your benefits package today will help you achieve financial independence and security, both now and in the future.
Chelsea Krost is an accomplished speaker, author, television and radio talk show host, certified health coach, and the chief creative officer and co-founder of MPulse, a digital marketing agency specializing in creating content to target the millennial generation. Chelsea has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “Anderson” with Anderson Cooper, “The Meredith Vieira Show,” “The Wendy Williams Show,” “The Today Show,” “The Tyra Banks Show,” Bloomberg News, “Good Day New York” and several other top media outlets.