If you are a full-time employee with benefits, the fall season is likely decision time. While most people equate open enrollment with health care benefits, this is a good time to reassess your overall benefit package in light of your retirement goals and added complexity of your financial situation as you approach retirement. Here are some things you should consider before you sign on the dotted line.

Maximize Your Contributions and Rebalance

Obviously, you will want to re-assess your 401(k) and 403(b) contributions if your employer match has changed. If possible, you should take advantage of your full employer match if you are not doing so already.

It’s also a good time to think about your long-term financial plan. If you’re approaching retirement, maybe it’s time to up your annual contributions if you’re not making the maximum contribution amounts for your account type. Or, if you’re over age 50 and already making the maximum contribution, consider making “catch-up” contributions above and beyond that limit to set aside even more savings for retirement.

Beyond just your contribution amounts, this is also a good chance to look at your diversification and rebalance accordingly. If your plan did particularly well, you might be over-weighted, and your investments may no longer reflect your risk tolerance. If other investments did well, you might want to step up your contributions to your tax-deferred accounts. Your advisor should be able to assist you with this.

Double check to see if your company has any investment opportunities you might have glossed over as you filled out your paperwork and take advantage of any that make sense for your situation.

Assess Your Health Care Needs Heading into Retirement

Your company’s human resources department has likely kept you apprised of any substantial changes to your health care plan. But now is a good time to take stock of your overall health and consider what coverage you need as you get closer to retirement.

If you are in good health, and your employer offers it, consider putting money into a health savings account (HSA). This is money that will be available to you down the road but will earn money in the interim. Even better, HSAs are considered tax-advantaged, meaning you can make contributions pre-tax AND withdraw them tax-free, provided certain criteria are met. If you don’t wind up using your HSA to cover medical expenses, you can still take out money down the road, so it can work well as an investment vehicle. HSA plans tend to only be available with a high deductible plan, so if you are anticipating a major surgery or potential health complications, this might not be the right time to switch.

While you’re reviewing the health insurance options offered through your employer, now might be a good time to look at your entire insurance situation. For example, does long-term care insurance make sense for you? Do you have enough life insurance? Take the time to review questions like these in light of your entire situation with your advisor.

Review Your Beneficiaries...and Your Overall Estate Plan

You probably listed your beneficiaries when you first enrolled in benefits with your company. Now would be a good time to revisit those beneficiaries.

Since you enrolled, have you created or modified your will? Remember, your listed beneficiaries supersede the language in your will. Have your life circumstances changed? If you have divorced, re-married, or if one of your children left home and became a billionaire, this would be a good time to look at who is getting what.

Even if you haven’t had any drastic life changes, now is a good time to look at your estate plan. If your children are in different tax brackets, for example, dividing your assets evenly among them could mean the IRS takes a bigger share.

Consider How Deferred Compensation Plays into Your Plan

As you enter your highest earning years and start thinking about what you want life to be like after you retire, you might find yourself in a role that offers deferred compensation as part of the benefits package. If you are in a position where you are offered deferred compensation, you may have the opportunity to pay less in income taxes and have more money when you need it the most. As you get closer to retirement, this could be a good time to review your deferred compensation options with an advisor to figure out the best decision for your situation.

As always, your retirement is not a “set it and forget it” kind of deal. Think of your open enrollment period as your annual checkup, meet with your advisor, and make sure your investments remain aligned to your financial goals.


The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

Mark Parrish

Mark Parrish

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor

CFP®, Series 7, 24 & 63 Securities Registrations,* Series 65 Advisory Registration,† Insurance License Mark joined Wealth Enhancement Group in 2001 because of the philosophy of teamwork and strong client focus. He strives to build trust and confidence in clients so they can be free to live their lives without the burden of managing their finances. Mark is a lifelong resident of the Brainerd Lakes area and he and his family enjoy all that northern...Read More