Most people don’t like change, but it’s often inevitable. Entire books have been written about managing change, but my focus here is much narrower — how to manage your equity compensation and benefits (stocks, 401(k)s and insurances) when you get a new job, receive a promotion or make a job change.
Congratulations! Starting a new job is exciting, and while it may seem like you’re drinking out of a fire hose for your first few weeks, take the time to do these three things:
- Find a mentor in your department. This person can provide value way beyond new hire training, serving as a resource for all your questions.
- Update your budget. Determine how much you can comfortably set aside for your 401(k) and Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP), if applicable.
- Sign up. In all the excitement of the new job, don’t forget to take advantage of benefits like health, life, and disability insurance; 401(k); and ESPP, if applicable.
Again, congratulations! Your hard work has resulted in moving to a position with more responsibilities and potentially higher compensation, which may include a greater percentage of restricted stock options (RSUs). Here’s your three-item to-do list:
- Monitor your vesting schedule. Keep track of the vesting schedule for your RSUs so you can choose how to handle those vested shares and understand the tax implications for each year.
- Monitor your savings rate as a percent of your total income. As a suggestion, target 15 – 20 percent of your total compensation for savings if you’re in your 30s — resist the temptation to increase your lifestyle first.
- Coordinate with your expert team. Make sure you’re working with your financial planner and CPA to ensure all the pieces of your financial life stay organized.
Whether it’s voluntary or involuntary, here are three things you should do when you leave a job:
- Check on your insurance and benefits. Is where you’re headed better or worse from a cost and coverage standpoint? What about COBRA as a stopgap for health insurance if you haven’t accepted a new position?
- Review any unvested RSUs or 401(k) matches. Remember, you’ll often have a certain number of years before you’re fully vested on your RSUs and 401(k) company match. If you’re leaving a company after five years or less, you may not have as much to take with you as you thought.
- Review your 401(k) options. You can often leave it, move it to your new company or roll it over to an IRA. Choose the option that best optimizes your money.
The takeaway here is that your finances should not get lost when your focus is on your career, getting settled in a new role and possibly even moving. If these reminders spur you to action, I’m happy to be of help.
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