If you’re a small business owner, or you’re self-employed, you may not have access to the same benefits package that you would have with more traditional full time employment. As a result, it’s up to you to create your own benefits package.
Here’s what you will need:
One of the best perks of working for someone else? Employer-subsidized health insurance. If you have a partner, you may be able to obtain some coverage through his or her work. If that’s not an option, you will need to shop around for individual coverage. A great place to start is by looking at existing group health plans to get an idea of what you might need when it comes to health coverage, including dental and vision plans.
You can then use your state’s health exchange or the federal health exchange to find a variety of plans at different price levels. Many health insurance providers also offer different plan options. You might consider combining a high-deductible plan with a Health Savings Account to reduce your premium costs and save up for out-of-pocket expenses.
Many employers offer life insurance coverage for little to no cost. When you’re self-employed, you are responsible for finding the life insurance coverage you need. Consider purchasing a low-cost term life policy from a reputable company to ensure that your family is taken care of in the event that you pass on unexpectedly.
Disability insurance coverage is often overlooked by the self-employed. However, it is important, since your inability to work due to illness or injury could mean financial problems for your family. Shop around for disability coverage that meets your needs and fits your price range. Just because you don’t have a traditional employer paying for your disability coverage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it.
Many employers provide access to a retirement account, and may even provide a matching contribution. If you’re a small business owner or self-employed, you may not have that luxury – but it’s equally important for you to save for your future.
There are tax-advantaged retirement accounts available that you can contribute to, even if you aren’t working a traditional job, including:
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Use these accounts to hold investments of your choice for retirement. Options are usually flexible, including the ability to hold assets like certain precious metals and real estate, as well as businesses, with tax advantages.
- SEP-IRAs: This account can be used to provide benefits for your employees as well as set up a plan for you as a business owner. They are a type of IRA, but with the benefit of helping your employees as well as providing for your retirement.
- Solo 401ks: If you are self-employed and want access to the contribution limit of a 401k, you can open a solo account with many financial institutions. This provides you the benefits of a “regular” 401k, but you won’t have the employer match.
Research these options to see which account makes the most sense for your situation. You won’t be able to get a match from an employer, but at least you’ll be taking the right steps to save for your future.
Paid time off is another main component of a full time employment benefits package. However, if you’re self-employed, it can be hard to find time for vacation. Studies show that taking a break and relaxing can actually help boost your creativity and productivity. Intuit found that 82% of vacationers had improved job performance after a trip, and NPR reports on studies that indicate breaks can be healthy for you and your business.
This means you need to build vacation time into your schedule. Save up money so that you can afford to take time off to go on a vacation. Create a vacation fund and automatically transfer money into the account each month. You can aim to save up a specific amount, or you can decide to save up for a set period of time and plan a vacation around what you’re able to accumulate. Make it a priority so that you can prioritize some much needed relaxation.
You can also try working ahead so that you don’t have as many duties while you are on vacation. Put in an extra hour each day, a few days ahead of your planned vacation so that you can accomplish vital tasks before you leave. Additionally, if you have other employees, you can slowly work toward delegating some tasks so that you aren’t always managing everything and have some room to take a break. While you might not be able to completely unplug (depending on the nature of your business), you can still enjoy some time off.
You don’t need to work in a traditional job setting to enjoy a benefits package. In fact, when you create your own benefits package, you have the opportunity to arrange the details to your liking. You might need to do a little extra planning, but the result can mean greater customization and flexibility in your small business or self-employed benefits.