How to Get More Money & Help From Your Job

This week, we had the opportunity to talk to Matt Fellowes, founder and CEO of HelloWallet, a new tool helping families save more and build their wealth on the job. It's a big issue because America's workers are behind on their retirement needs by a whopping $6 trillion. Yes, that's $6 trillion.

If you're young, it means you'd be smart to start saving right now, on the job. If you're older, it means you need to be sure you're taking full advantage of every benefit you possibly can from your employer.

Many employers offer the traditional 401(k). But as my column at MarketWatch highlights, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your financial tools at work beyond just the 401(k).Matt Fellowes

  • Life, Disability Insurance – Many companies offer subsidized insurance for life and/or disability coverage. It’s usually not enough, though, so you’d be smart to review it against what you really need. For instance, if you become disabled, will your disability insurance cover all of your salary or just a small portion?
  • Emergency Assistant Programs – These are generally hotlines to help workers with anything from depression to bankruptcy. The information is usually kept fully confidential and deep help is often limited but they may refer you elsewhere.
  • Employee Stock Option or Stock Ownership Programs – These programs allow you to be awarded stock options to purchase or to divert a portion of your paycheck topurchase company stock outright.  You don’t get any discounts on their price and, as with any investment, you should believe they are a good investment.
  • Investment Tools - Tools like FinancialEngines.com or MorningStar's RetirementPlanner may be offered through your 401(k) administrator. These can help you make better decisions about mutual funds and rebalance your investments to make sure they don't get out of whack.
  • Money management -- HelloWallet provides a mobile and web-based platform to guide employees in taking the right steps to build wealth.
 
“We make the starting assumption that most people don’t think about their money and when they do, they’re intimidated,” says founder & CEO Matt Fellowes. “So one of our tricks is we’ve figured out what’s emotionally important to that person and provide them options.”
 
The company uses tactics like peer pressure or showing tradeoffs to motivate you to make a better decision (see chart). As an example, an employee with $50,000 in credit card debt and earning $50,000 in income may want to buy a house.
 
“But that’s a tough decision,” says Fellowes. “So we’ll educate them and then nudge them overtime – by showing the behavior of others like them who have no debt.”
 
Fellowes says HelloWallet has increased savings by 80% among its users or about $300 per month on average. Best of all is the fact that no products are promoted or advertised – keeping it fully unbiased. Also, if your company offers it, it’s free to you. As a consumer, you can access it for a low monthly fee.