Seven Benefits You Should Request From Your First Employer

Launching yourself from studenthood into adulthood with your first career job is a daunting endeavor. The job search itself feels like a full-time job: crafting the perfect cover letter, updating your resume, checking in with references, and then hoping to find the right match.

Once you do find the right match, though, the work only just begins. Before you sign a contract — full-time, part-time, freelance or otherwise — consider the employee benefits you could get, how important they are to you, and if and how you should negotiate for them.

Looking for some advice on how to do that? Here are seven things you might want to ask for, with advice on how to ask for them:

1. Student loan repayment

One of the biggest employee benefits of 2018 according to Forbes, student loan repayment is a key recruitment tool at some of the biggest companies such as finance firm Fidelity. If you do not know whether your prospective new employer has a student loan repayment program, ask politely.

According to personal finance site Make Lemonade, there are over 44 million graduates who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loans, the largest consumer debt category after mortgages.

Many companies find that helping out with student loan repayment not only attracts but keeps great employees.

If your new job does not offer student loan repayment, try to lower your interest rates through student loan refinancing.

2. Health insurance coverage

You need to know whether or not your employer offers health insurance, but that’s not enough. You need to know how much you will have to put into it — and if you have a family, how much your family is covered.

Check those premiums and make sure your deductibles are not through the roof.

Ask your employer to review the health insurance plan options with you and understand the restrictions and limitations, especially when it comes to pre-existing conditions.

Make sure you completely understand the health insurance options from your employer and that the plan meets your needs. If not, ask questions.

3. Pension payments

No, you are probably not thinking about your pension just yet, but it should show up on your radar screen.

Do not overlook a full pension or matching programs on 401(k) and 403(b) accounts.

Matching programs are pretty valuable, especially when employers match your saving dollar-for-dollar or a certain percentage of your income.

Here’s how it works. If you make $70,000 but your employee matches 100 percent of your contribution up to 6 percent, over 30 years, you will have quite a bit of cash.

Think on it — and do the math.

4. Access to wellness programs

Sometimes employers lump these together with health plans and sometimes they are stand-alone.

Some companies offer to pitch in on your health insurance premium if you agree to take health-risk assessments, or they may even offer financial perks for wellness activities like flu shots, joining a gym, and meeting biometric targets for cholesterol and high blood pressure. That’s right: some employers pay you to stay healthy! After all, a healthy employee is usually a happy — and productive — employee. So it’s a win-win.

Ask a benefits counselor in human resources for more information about your employer’s wellness program and go ahead and get that discounted gym membership!

5. Professional development perks

While your experience and credentials got you this great gig in the first place, you will need to stay current with the latest in your field. How? Training, conferences, workshops, seminars, and a host of other activities.

Does your new employer foot the bill for classes, conferences, seminars, or tuition reimbursement? Find out.

Larger companies often offer some type of undergraduate or graduate educational assistance. This means more money in your pocket.

6. More paid holidays

There should be paid time off in your contract. It is not always easy, but try to ascertain if the work-life balance is acceptable to you.

If you are coming from an employer who offered more time off, politely negotiate with your new employer to match that number.

If you are worth it to your new company, they will be willing to listen. Make yourself worth it to them. Companies often offer good benefits so people will be happy in their jobs and they will benefit from both lower attrition (as recruitment can be costly and time-consuming) and more motivated employees.

7. The possibility of working from home

Working from home at least part of the time has become more popular and it is entirely reasonable to ask if the option exists.

Negotiate this ahead of time — don’t ask your boss if it is ok if you work from home every Friday once you are in the job. Even if you do not settle on an agreement in the negotiations, ask the human resources office about their remote work policies and their expectations of your presence in the office.

Have You Considered a Career as a Financial Therapist?

You’ve heard of financial planners. You’ve also heard of therapists. But have you heard of financial therapists? If you haven’t yet, you might soon. Because while financial therapy is a relatively new profession, more and more people are turning to financial analysts for help managing their anxieties about money and investments. Here’s a closer look at this up-and-coming line of work, along with what you need to know to pursue a career as a financial therapist.

What’s a Financial Therapist?

Crain’s Chicago Business describes this new breed of professional as “a blend of a therapist and financial planner, a professional who will ask you about your finances and your goals, but who will also grill you about your emotions before advising what to do with your money.”

Considering that concerns about money consistently earn a top spot on lists of things people worry about, this begs the question: What makes financial therapy different from “regular” therapy? New York-based financial therapist Amanda Clayman told LearnVest, “Financial therapy differs from general psychotherapy only in that it’s focused on enhancing financial well-being through the study of the emotional, behavioral, cognitive, relational, economic and integrative aspects of financial health. In practice, it integrates financial counseling and planning with personal counseling, marriage and family therapy, sociology, social work, and, of course, psychology. Also, good financial therapy happens in collaboration with finance professionals, such as tax experts and investment advisers.”

And while the field is small, it’s a growing one — with potential to help people suffering from many different kinds of money woes. Explains Time, “Do you have a budget but can’t stick to it? Did your financial planner tell you last year to raise your 401(k) contribution, but you still haven’t done so? A financial therapist can help you out of your rut. If you and your spouse can’t resolve disagreements over supporting aging parents or investing your retirement savings, a therapist can help break the logjam.”

And while financial therapy may fall into a different category than psychotherapy and financial planning, they’re inherently interconnected, says Clayton. “Good financial therapy often happens in a collaborative network of professionals. For example, when clients need more intensive psychotherapy I will refer to another mental health professional who does that type of ongoing work, and when a tax, investment, or financial planning need presents itself, I will refer or confer with an appropriate professional in those fields. We must all be very mindful to work within our individual professional training and scope of practice.” she told CheatSheet.

Becoming a Financial Therapist

According to Forbes, the Financial Therapy Association was established less than a decade ago. And while the profession has grown since then, the number of financial therapists are still vastly outnumbered by the numbers of therapists and financial planners. Because the profession is lesser-known, establishing yourself can be a challenge — particularly given that no license or training is currently required to practice financial therapy.

However, there are some things you can do to position yourself for success in this field. According to financial therapist Bari Tessler, the first step involves addressing your own relationship with money. “You must do your own work before you can truly help others. (This doesn’t mean you’ll ‘fix’ your money relationship once and for all — I believe our money relationship is always growing and evolving, and we’re never “done” with it.). Doing your own work is the best way to become intimate with the tools, emotions, and issues you’ll need to support others,” Tessler says.

Additionally, just because a particular degree or certification isn’t required doesn’t mean it’s not important. Financial therapists are usually trained as financial planners, mental health professionals or social workers. Recommends Time, “Those who aren’t financial planners should have some kind of therapeutic licensure, such as an advanced degree in marriage and family therapy, psychology, or social work.”

Says Clayton of the best path into a career as a financial therapist given the current lack of regulations, “Since this area of practice is really the intersection of two different fields, most financial therapists have a ‘native’ area of training and licensure, and then will add an additional credential that incorporates the other area of study. For example, I am a licensed social worker, and have an additional certification in financial social work. Some people do have dual degrees/professional accreditations, such as completing both CFP and clinical counseling programs.”

In other words, while no one degree or course of study will set you up for a career as a financial therapist, you will still need specific skills and training.

The takeaway? While financial therapy may be an off-the-beaten-track career choice, it’s becoming increasingly mainstream. And with good reason. According to Kahler Financial Group, “Financial therapy addresses a need that until recent years most financial and mental health professionals didn’t talk about or didn’t even know existed.” Financial therapists are on the front lines when it comes to bridging this gap and helping people holistically overcome their emotional and financial baggage toward real change.

How to Draft a Good Business Plan

If “start a company” is on your to-do list or you’d like it to be, you’ll need a business plan. Even the smallest businesses will benefit from a clear vision and strategy to help you get there.

Business plans include market research and details about your marketing strategies, intended audience, staffing, potential obstacles, and overall goals.

The first part? The executive summary. This critical piece of the plan gives you–and potential funders–the elevator speech version of what you intend to do: your products and services, a brief market analysis, your strategy, and your risk analysis.

Ready to get started? Great. Let’s take a closer look at these five strategies for creating the perfect business plan.

Pick a format

Format matters. You might need the traditional 20-30 page business plan if you’re going after big funding right off the bat. To get started, you may need a smaller version of your plan, or several smaller versions depending on your audience. A slideshow is a nice idea if you’re presenting your plan in-person to a potential investor, customer, or potential employee.

A one-page plan is the shortest version possible, and something you can use when you want that potential investor, customer, or employee to take something with them when they leave your meeting.

Business plan software or a good old-fashioned paper plan can do the trick, too. Most software offers templates that you can tailor to meet your intended audience’s needs.

Regardless of the format you choose, know that you may want to have a few versions. Need help? Ask for it.

Keep it short

And sweet, while you’re at it.

No one wants to read that 30-page plan, let alone 100 pages.

Write your business plan as a refined work-in-progress that you use to run and grow your business. A long business plan is a hassle. A short, clear one gives you a clear roadmap with room to grow and improve.

Your mission, vision, goals, obstacles, and strategy should be clear. Your purpose should be clear, too.

Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve

The secret to a successful business? A clear vision. What do you want to achieve as a company? Before you begin writing this plan, sketch out the vision and there or four key strategies that you’ll use to facilitate your vision.

The mission and vision are related. Your mission is the “why” of what you’re doing now. Once you’re clear on that, you need to develop the “why” of what you’ll do in the future. That’s the vision. That’s key. Investors want to know how they can expect to see a (big) return on their investment.

Identify your target audience

Easier said than done, right? You need to figure out the answer to this question: “For whom are you solving a problem, or offering a better solution?”

Once you determine your “for whom,” and you may have multiples, write your plan in language for them.

Here’s an example: if your company is developing technology that helps banks, but your prospective investors are scientists, and don’t understand banking language, adapt. Make your langauge accessible to your target audience–and your target investors.

Hard to do when they’re from different sectors, but worth your time.

Make sure it includes all necessary elements

Ready? At a minimum, your plan needs some iteration of these six things: an executive summary, opportunity, execution, team and company, finances, and an appendix.

Your executive summary includes your mission and vision, product or services, and basic information about the company and its finances. It should offer a one-sentence business overview, a problem, your solution, and your target market. It needs to be short, sweet, and concise.

Your opportunity section delves into the detail of the problem you’re solving, the solution, your intended audience, and how your product or service is unlike the competition. You’ll also detail more of your vision here. You may opt for a formal market analysis here, too.

A word of warning on formal market analyses: your target audience is never “everyone.” Be specific and broad at the same time.

Your execution section explains how you’re going to achieve your goals, and your team and company section describes who’s going to do it for you. Keep these sections clear, detailed, and concise.

Your finances need to include your current financial situation–and how you got there–your financial goals, a plan for getting there, and a respectful ask, if you’re making one. Don’t be afraid to use graphics to illustrate your points.

With a clear business plan, you can make your dreams realities. Remember: audience and purpose are just as key as clean language and a clear vision.