National Influenza Vaccination Week (usually the first week in December) is the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) annual awareness campaign to remind people of the importance of getting a flu shot. What’s the connection to your financial well-being? Well, in many cases the flu vaccine is preventative care provided at no cost from an in-network provider and is recommended because it helps prevent future illness, saving you money on healthcare costs and lost time/pay from work. If it’s not free, you can use pre-tax funds from your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) since the flu vaccine is a qualified medical expense.
But you probably already knew all of that. Instead we’re using this as an opportunity to remind you to “vaccinate” your finances. Taking a few small, relatively painless steps now can prevent something much worse later. In fact the CDC picked a week in December, well into the flu season, to remind people that it’s not too late to get vaccinated. The same is true for your finances. It’s never too late to get started. Where should you start?
- Save up to build a $500 rainy day fund. Cash you can use in an emergency prevents high interest credit card debt that makes that emergency more expensive.
- Make sure you’re paying at least the minimums on all of your debts (credit cards, student loans, etc). Missing the minimum payment means late fees and in some cases lets the lender raise your interest rates.
- Make the most of your employer sponsored financial benefits. 401(k), HSA, FSA – small monthly contributions to these tax advantaged plans can make a big difference over time.