Brandon Schaffer, Sanford Health
I am known in my hospital as the financial guy. If someone has a question about our benefits or finances, they are encouraged to seek me out. I love leaning into conversations around finances, and I enjoy educating any and all of my fellow employees on our company benefits. Sanford Health has a lot of benefits, but I constantly encourage anyone who will listen about our 401k. I truly believe if we spend just a few short minutes on our 401k, we will be well on our way to financial independence. Why does an emergency room nurse care so much about his 401k, and why should you? Most individuals choose nursing because we care about people and we want to make a difference in their lives. In nursing, as in many occupations, self-care is often ignored in our all too busy lives. I believe that getting your financial house in order has so many mental health benefits that cannot be ignored. We can carve out more time in our chaotic lives when we have control of our finances. How does having a 401k solve problems in our lives? Automation! Our company automatically enrolls 3% of each paycheck into the 401k upon our date of hire. This is a great start, but a 401k stands as a marathon and not a sprint. I encourage all employees to change their contribution to 6% of their paycheck. This allows the employee to get the full 5% match. Now, we are starting to get our pace set, therefore I encourage employees to push their limits by increasing contributions by 1% quarterly or annually to get up to 15% to 20% of their paycheck. For those financial mutants, I encourage them to add the max annual contribution of $20,500 in 2022. All of these tasks are simple to achieve on Principal Financial’s website, Principal is our 401k custodian. After educating our nurses to increase their contributions, the next step is to educate our nurses on compound interest. I have experienced mental health benefits of getting my financial house in order, but another huge ‘why’ is compound interest. Albert Einstein is credited with the quote stating that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Sanford Health automatically enrolls employees in target date funds. These funds are a great start to getting that compound interest accruing. If my fellow coworkers have no more interest in other funds, I leave it at that. However, we have other excellent index fund options to invest in. There are a few Vanguard, Principal, and other great low expense ratio index funds to invest those hard earned 401k dollars. As you are eyeing the finish line there are always a few details to consider. Taxes are one of those details that deserve some time and understanding. Our 401k offers a Roth option for any contribution rate. Therefore, an employee can decide what works best for their tax situation when deciding on pretax contributions, Roth contributions, or a combination of both. Along with compound interest one of the last details to persuade employees to participate in the plan is the power of time. As nurses, we see how precious time can be. We see people’s time on this earth end almost daily, and especially coming off of the pandemic. Time may be one of the most important details in this journey through life. We want more time to spend with family and friends. We want more time to spend on the things that we are passionate about. I can’t give you more time, but I can free up your time by helping you have your financial house in order. Not only is time important personally but time is one of the greatest ways of growing wealth. I find behavior is one of the easiest ways to sabotage your retirement goals. Getting that 401k on autopilot, dollar cost averaging contributions, and set it and forget it mentality is a winning combination for our finances. The 401k may be one of the best options as a regular employee to get your finances right so you can cross the proverbial financial finish line with confidence. I would like to use the analogy of a financial triangle in order to explain certain critical financial concepts. We use the pediatric assessment triangle in emergency nursing to see if we need to intervene immediately with a sick child. If one of the sides of their triangles is bad such as their appearance is off, if they have a hard time breathing, or if their circulation is off we need to intervene immediately. Since I link emergency care with finances, I came up with the financial triangle. The three sides are time (time to allow compound growth), good low fee investments (401k, Index Funds), and good behavior (behavioral finances). One of my favorite quotes is from Morgan Housel the author of The Psychology of Money: “More than I want big returns, I want to be financially unbreakable. And if I am unbreakable I actually think I will get the biggest returns, because I will be able to stick around long enough for compounding to work wonders.” People underestimate their behavior significantly and that is why it is one of the sides of the financial triangle. A 401k investor will be successful if their behavior keeps them invested in the market. Current times have many people questioning and wondering if this time is different. Betting on the American economy for the last 246 years has proven to be a great investment. This allows us to behave by staying invested, by continuing to invest in our low cost 401ks, and by giving our investments time to compound. I want your finances to grow and that you meet all your financial goals. An investor needs all three sides of this triangle to reach their financial goals. What actions have you taken to inspire non-participants to participate in the 401(k)? Please explain, being as specific and detailed as possible. I have spoken previously about conversations in regards to educating employees on finances, but I knew in my heart that I wanted to teach more about our 401k. I became a facilitator of the Nurse Residency program at my hospital. The nurse residency program is a program implemented by our entire hospital system to help acclimate new nurses throughout their first year as new hires. This is a pivotal time in a young nurse's career to really master their calling. This residency meets once a month and each month there is a self-care portion of the meeting. Last year I volunteered to build a presentation about finances. I presented information on budgeting, compound interest, our HSA, and our 401k. My leader enjoyed the presentation, and she had me record my presentation in order that every cohort of nurse residents will receive information about finances and about our 401k. This action alone will reach every single new nurse that comes into our organization. My employer has over 50,000 employees across our system, and I am honored that most of the new nurses will hear more details about their 401k than just the basics of new hire orientation. They will get first hand experience with someone who has been using the 401k for over 10 years. Sometimes we can be intimidated by financial advisors and big employers' recommendations, and we may feel they are trying to sell us something versus trying to help us. In conclusion, I love being an advocate for our new nurses to encourage them to utilize our 401k. They can see firsthand that others utilize the 401k to its full potential in order to achieve financial goals. I believe that the Sanford 401k can truly make a difference in each of my fellow coworkers' lives.