October 7, 2022

Job Change? Prepare Financially With These 4 Tips

Eric Bank
Former Citadel Director of Business Analysis

Americans seem to change jobs every few years, and that can be a good thing. It can lead to more challenging roles, greater autonomy, and yes, more money. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth financial transition as you embark on your next adventure.

1. Set Up Your Health Insurance

You will lose your current health insurance coverage, and hopefully, your new job will offer similar or better insurance. But if this isn’t the case, or if there is a mandatory waiting period before you can sign up, you’ll have to arrange new coverage. Basically, you have two choices:

  • COBRA: You can continue your current policy under COBRA, but you’ll be paying the entire premium. That could cause serious sticker shock if your old employer subsidized the cost. 
  • ACA: The Affordable Care Act treats a job change as a qualifying event allowing you to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace immediately. Subsidies are available that can make coverage more affordable. You can contact HealthCare.gov for all the details.

2. Update Your Budget

Hopefully, your new job comes with a bigger salary, but any significant change requires a new savings and spending plan — that’s right, your budget. You could use the extra money to improve your lifestyle, but you’ll thank yourself later if you redirect the added funds to your savings goals. First, establish or augment a six-month emergency fund large enough to pay your bills if you should suddenly lose your income. Second, establish or increase your retirement contributions to your IRA. If you have any accumulated debt, now’s the time to get rid of it.

3. Migrate Your 401K

Assuming you were covered by a 401K or similar plan at your old job, you must decide which of your options to exercise:

  • Leave in place: Your old employer may allow you to maintain your plan, but you can’t contribute to it. Moreover, you may enjoy a better return or lower fees by moving your money elsewhere.
  • Roll over to an IRA: You can put the money into an IRA tax-free. It’s an excellent place to park retirement funds if you eventually plan to join a new 401K. Or you can leave the money in the IRA and invest it as you wish.
  • Roll over to a new 401K: Check out what your new employer offers. You can roll over your old plan if it seems like a good deal and your employer contributes to your account. Don’t forget to set up your 401K contributions at your new workplace. 

4. Take It With You

You may have earned vacation and/or sick days at the old job. Many employers provide a payout for any unused days. Speak with the HR people to clarify the company’s policies and procedures to collect what’s due you. The same is true if you have any vested stock options. Sometimes, it makes sense to adjust your departure date to qualify for the vesting of options, profit-sharing, and other benefits.

Enjoy your new job!

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