Financial literacy leads to better financial health
Planning and saving for our financial future can help bring peace of mind and opportunities as we make our way through life, but it can be hard to know where to start sometimes. At WashU, we know that financial literacy leads to better financial health. That’s why we’re providing this series of education, tools and professional support to employees.
Financial literacy refers to the knowledge to make informed decisions about your own financial situation – from budgeting to investing to saving. It can help us meet our financial needs now and in the future, and increase our ability to choose important and meaningful experiences that can contribute to our well-being.
Bookmark this post and refer back to it each month for a new topic and call to action.
More than just a name
A beneficiary is a person or entity that will receive all or a portion of the proceeds of your account(s) when you die. Naming a beneficiary for each of your financial accounts can eliminate confusion, save time, and help ensure the financial wellness of your loved ones.
Call to action: Review your financial accounts (including savings, retirement, life insurance, etc.) to ensure you have an updated beneficiary assigned. Common WashU accounts include:
- TIAA retirement account | Log into your account at TIAA.org/wustl. Under actions, select “Add/edit beneficiaries”
- Health Savings Account (HSA) | Log into Optum, select the “Tools and Resources” tab, then click on “Beneficiary Designation Form”
- Life insurance | View plan details and instructions
Check out the TIAA resource library for continued learning opportunities.
Spring clean your finances
The use of subscription services has been on a meteoric rise. For many digital platforms, a monthly fee is the only way to consume content. These streaming service subscriptions, subscribe-and-save discounts, memberships and of-the-month clubs, coupled with the ease of automatic bill pay, can add up to a lot of recurring costs.
Savvy consumers should conduct periodic audits of automatic subscriptions by reviewing credit and debit card statements and bank accounts or use tools, like credit card services or mobile apps to monitor subscription services. Some credit cards offer helpful features such as requiring cardholder approval before subscriptions renew, but they may not catch a price increase or a free trial conversion to a monthly fee. Subscription manager apps can help you track and/or notify you, but require sensitive information and sometimes require a fee subscription themselves, all for a service you could do yourself.
Call to action
Take inventory of all the memberships and subscriptions you have. If you have memberships or subscriptions you aren’t using, cancel what you no longer want or need, and put that money toward debt reduction or a savings goal.
Check out the Money Matters toolkit for tips to take some of the stress and worry out of financial planning, offered by Work-Life Solutions.
Buy now, pay (and pay, and pay) later
With the prevalence of ‘buy now, pay later’ modalities, in-app purchases, and social shopping opportunities, it can be very easy to spend quite a lot with just the touch of a button. Who hasn’t been tempted by the ease of upgrading an app for a small fee, spreading payments over a period of time, or buying that product you didn’t know you needed until right now?
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) is a type of short-term financing that allows people to make purchases and pay for them over time. Generally, they do not charge interest. As these BNPL platforms become more common, consumers should be sure to read the fine print. This type of financing is not as closely regulated as credit cards, so terms can vary significantly.
Call to action
Read the fine print and prepare for your payments, since being late or missing a payment can result in late fees and damage to your credit score. Parents, talk with your teens about the pros and cons of BNPL, and how it can affect their credit history, report and score.
Work-Life Solutions (WashU’s EAP) provides small steps to securing your financial future.
Plan ahead, retire in style
WashU and TIAA want to make it easy to manage your retirement account. Once you’ve logged into TIAA.org/wustl, you can:
- Change contribution amount | Select Change Contribution Amount from the Retirement section. Update the dollar amount or percentage for your contributions and the date to make your change effective.
- Change the investment of future contributions | Select Change Your Investments from the Retirement section, then Choose Future Investments, then Make Changes. Choose each account or contract to update, then enter investment instructions.
- Transfer assets among plan investment options | Select Change Your Investments from the Retirement section, then Exchange, then Make Changes. Choose each account or contract to update, then enter investment instructions.
- Update your beneficiary designation | Select Add/Edit Beneficiaries from the All Accounts section, and select Add New to make changes to multiple accounts or Edit Existing to update beneficiaries on a specific account.
Call to Action
Take control of your retirement by talking to a TIAA financial consultant (PDF).
Take a closer look at the retirement savings benefit offered by WashU and manage your retirement account with the help of TIAA tools and resources (PDF), accessible anytime and anywhere.
Explore the financial well-being hub for additional tools and resources.