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How To Survive a Job That Does Not Pay Benefits

I was reading a post on CNN Money about how employers are scaling back on benefits. With unemployment near double digits and so many people looking for work, employers are forgoing hiring permanent full-time employees and hiring temporary workers and contractual employees. This enables employers to circumvent having to offer employees full scale benefits. The result is that many employees are finding themselves without health insurance, sick leave, vacation pay or a retirement plan. Contractors are also responsible for their own unemployment and Social Security payments. The drawbacks are plenty. So, what can you do if you find yourself in such a situation?

Create your own retirement plan.

You may not be able to participate in your company’s retirement plan, but you can create your own Traditional IRA, Roth IRA or SEP IRA. Each of these IRAs offers a unique benefit that will allow you to plan for retirement. A Traditional IRA will allow you to defer taxes until withdrawal. A Roth IRA will let your earnings grow free from future tax liabilities. A SEP IRA allows you to put away 25% of your income which allows you to grow your retirement account faster. Just visit your local bank, credit union or broker to open an account. Creating your own retirement plan puts you in total control of your financial future.

Buy your own health insurance.

So, your employer doesn’t offer health insurance? No problem! Buy your own. You can always go the traditional route and contact an insurance agent. Another option is to get on the internet and start shopping. Sites like,, and are great places to go to shop for policies. You can search health insurance exchanges and compare policies from different insurance carriers. This is a whole lot easier than simply going to a carrier’s website. You can buy medical coverage, dental insurance, and coverage for your college kid or toddler. It’s relatively easy and can be done right from the comforts of your home. You’ll even find that some individual policies are cheaper than group plan premiums, it’s just that many employers pay for a portion of your premium, so it seems to be cheaper.

Join a union.

Contractual and temporary workers can join together to obtain discounted prices on benefit packages. Groups like the Freelancers Union provide workers with access to a 401(k) plan, medical, dental, and disability insurance. Unions like these can obtain lower pricing on benefit services because of the large pool of employees. They also offer discounts on everything from tax services to health club memberships.

With independent contracting and freelancing on the rise, more and more employers are shifting the burden of providing benefits to employees. Employees will have to prepare for a new landscape where they will be responsible for their own insurance, tax payments, and retirement plans.

Have you ever had a job where you were responsible for paying your own benefits? If so, where did you turn for benefits?

(Photo credit: Voces de la Frontera)

Mark Riddix
Mark Riddix is the founder and president of an independent investment advisory firm that provides personalized investing and asset management consulting. Mark has written financial columns for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area newspapers and is the author of the book, "Your Financial Playbook."

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