Financial Wellness Month shines a spotlight on financial health.

January’s Financial Wellness Month focuses on spreading awareness and educating people on the importance of financial well-being. Throughout the month, the International Association of Fire Fighters is empowering members to make smart decisions about their money—covering everything from budgeting and saving to investing and how to achieve better overall financial health. 

Recognizing the persistent threat of cancer and to honor Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month, the IAFF Financial Corporation (IAFF-FC) has also provided financial tips to plan specifically for cancer and other occupational illnesses within the firefighting community. 

Allan Westcott, the IAFF-FC’s Director of Investments and Finance, breaks down what you should know to prepare for your financial future. 

Read our FAQ in part one of this three-part series to learn more about supplemental insurance.  

 

Q: What is Financial Wellness Month and why is it important?  

 A: The month’s focus encompasses a variety of financial concepts such as budgeting, savings, investing, managing debt, and planning for your future. This month is important because it allows individuals to check in on their current financial well-being and empowers members with the knowledge and skills needed to make good financial decisions. 

  

Q: What does it mean to be in good financial health?  

 A: Being in good financial health means having a stable and secure financial situation that allows you to meet your financial obligations, achieve your future plans and goals, and cover both expected and unexpected expenses. While we all share these goals in common, other priorities will depend on where you are in your career and your life.  

For younger members, key priorities include understanding the importance of budgeting, starting early to save for retirement, creating an emergency fund, and understanding and managing debt. Protecting your family and loved ones with proper insurance coverage is also a key priority. For older members, good financial health means being fully prepared for retirement, saving for specific goals like travel or a second home in retirement, and understanding how your savings and investments will respond in various economic conditions. 

 Regardless of your financial health today, it is not too late to get started, ensuring you are setting yourself up for that stable and secure financial future.  

  

Q: What are some immediate first steps to get into good financial health? 

A: For our younger members looking to get on the right track financially, there are a few first steps they can take, including: 

  • Creating a budget by outlining monthly income and expenses  
  • Building your emergency fund by setting aside a portion of each paycheck  
  • Prioritizing paying off any high interest debt 

For members who are a few years into their career or nearing the end of it, they can begin to get into good financial health by: 

  • Creating savings goals 
  • Ensuring you’re contributing to your retirement accounts 
  • Establishing long-term financial goals 
  • Educating yourself about investment options and financial planning 
  • Working with a professional to get guidance on your financial situation 

  

Q: What products and help are available to IAFF members? 

A: Your IAFF Financial Corporation has over a dozen vetted products and services which are designed for fire fighters and their families.  

  • Our Insurance Division is designed to help with all our members’ insurance needs- from auto and home insurance to the IAFF Health & Wellness Trust providing bargained-for health insurance. The Insurance Division offers supplemental coverage to protect you and your family, life insurance, and liability coverage.  
  • The Deferred Compensation Division helps members with their retirement needs, ensuring they get the most competitive rates and best service possible. 
  • Our Investments and Finance Division helps our members with financial planning strategies and investment guidance to allow them to focus on their lifetime goals while eliminating risks that might keep them from these goals. We tailor our recommendations to each member to create opportunities to provide better and more complete solutions at every stage of their career. We also provide our members with education and insight into financial products to ensure our members are making informed decisions. 
  • Finally, our Banking Division offers first-time home buyer benefits, a variety of mortgage options, refinancing, and education around home buying. All facets of the FC are designed with IAFF members in mind. 

  

Q: This month, the IAFF-FC is highlighting supplemental insurance. What is it and what are several types? 

A: Supplemental insurance pays beyond someone’s primary medical insurance for a covered illness and/or accident. In the case of a cancer policy, a supplemental cancer policy will pay either a flat amount for a cancer diagnosis or per treatment. Supplemental insurance typically refers to cancer, critical illness, heart and stroke, accident, hospital indemnity, short-term disability, and accidental death insurance. All these supplemental insurances can be valuable to IAFF members, and members should consider what is best for them and their families.  

  

Q: What supplemental insurance options are offered through the IAFF? 

A: There are two companies we have formed relationships with to meet the needs of our members: NTA Life and MetLife. NTA Life offers individual cancer, heart, hospital indemnity, accident, and short-term disability plans with year-round enrollment, and options to sign up for one or all plans. These plans allow flexibility to tailor products to fit your unique needs by choosing the appropriate benefit level premium amount and the applicable family coverage status. NTA benefits are paid directly to you to cover the medical or non-medical costs of an accident, illness, or health emergency. They are payable in addition to any other insurance coverage. MetLife Bundle, offered through Winston Financial, provides guaranteed-issue group policies including critical illness, accident, short-term disability, hospital indemnity, and term life/AD&D insurance. It offers you and your family added protection from the budgetary impact of unexpected illness, accidental injuries, periods of disability, and/or death. 

 

Q: How can I learn more about the products offered through the IAFF-FC? 

A: Members can reach out to IAFF-FC representatives here. We also have a direct line of communication with each insurance company. If a member is trying to figure out what is best for them, the IAFF-FC representatives can answer all their questions as soon as possible.