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Tips for Adjusting Back to Office Life

June 18, 2020

After months of remote work, workplaces are finally opening up again. To some this is exciting. At last, one can interact with their coworkers and work in a more traditional environment. Some might feel the opposite. Regardless, the switch back to the office environment will take some adjustments in your daily routine. To help you make that switch seamlessly, we’ve made this list of 6 tips that will ensure that you have no issues on your way back into the office.

 

Prepare Mentally

After all the time of just being able to roll out of bed and get to work, it may seem like a drag to get ready each day to go back to the workplace. You should prepare yourself mentally to not only wake up earlier and get dressed for work but also prepare for the many things that come along with being in the office. It’s important to note studies show that communication is vitally important to productivity, and despite the boom in work from home technology, nothing beats face to face communication, even if it’s from six feet apart. A conversation through a screen just isn’t the same. So if you’re dreading returning to work, focus instead on the benefit of returning – a better teamwork experience.

 

Stick To What Routines You Can

Without a doubt, the switch back to office work will dramatically change your routine. As such, it is even more important to stick to the things that you can. Studies show that routines are essential to sound mental health. If you have a cup of tea at 10:30 every morning, continuing to do that will bring a sense of much-needed consistency to your routine. Similarly, if you have begun to start your day with a half-hour of industry news, continue doing that. Even the smallest pieces of your routine play large roles in keeping you feeling stable and will help you in the transition back to office life.

 

Plan Out Your House Work

It’s easy to forget the days where you couldn’t just crush a load of laundry or do the dishes in between conference calls, but those days are back. It’s going to be harder to get all those household chores done. In order to get back on the metaphorical chore wagon, it may be worth setting up a plan to help you get what you need to be done around your home. Not only will it keep your home clean, but it could have health benefits

 

Remember Your Commute

It’s easy to forget how your workdays used to be. That commute now seems so far in the past. Unfortunately, it and all the other elements of the workday are back. Commutes can add significantly to your day.  The average American commutes for 26.1 minutes one way. Over a five day work week, this is about four hours that you’ll be losing. As such, it is important to take into account the effect the commute will have on your day. Likely you will have to get up a little earlier than before, and it may be worthwhile to map out your commute before your return to the office. Your after-work time is also cut due to the commute, so post-work activities will subsequently have to be shortened. But don’t despair – a commute is a perfect time to learn something new with your favorite podcast or an audiobook.

 

Stay Safe

Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic is not over, and even though you’ve returned to work, it is still important to ensure not only your safety but the safety of your colleagues and customers. Your workplace has likely sent out a list of guidelines and instructions to help keep the workplace safe – follow these as closely as you can, as they are in place to help you. Many will require you to wear a mask. While masks are undoubtedly uncomfortable, they are an important piece in the COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Also, remember to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. They may seem like small things, but they make the difference.

 

Enjoy Yourself

After months in relative isolation, you’ll now be returning to the workplace. Now is the time to bask in the human contact you’ve so missed. Interact with your colleagues. Enjoy leaving the house. This is in many ways a return to the much-missed normalcy. Make the best of it. 

 

While the return back to work certainly won’t be easy, eventually you will become used to it as you were before. It is an essential part of returning to normalcy. But it isn’t the only path to choose – more and more companies seem to be allowing their companies to work from home following the pandemic. If you’re curious about the future of working from home, check out this article.

 


 

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Looking over different types of employee benefits
2020-11-11
Navigating Insurance and Benefits as a New Employee

Starting a new job can be an exciting experience. However, after you begin, there’s a good chance you’ll be confronted with a bunch of paperwork detailing types of employee benefits and asking you to make decisions about insurance and retirement plans.   Understanding job benefits is an important part of making sure that you get more from your employment. Here’s what you need to know about how to choose the right benefits for you.  

Retirement Plan

The first rule of employee benefits is to sign up for the
company retirement plan. Many workplaces offer a 401(k), but you might also see a 403(b) or 457(b) plan. Smaller workplaces might offer to help you contribute to an IRA.   No matter what this plan is called, however, a retirement plan is one of the most important types of employee benefits because it allows you to receive a tax benefit as you save for your future. Some employers offer a matching contribution. If your company will match a portion of your contribution, it often makes sense to adjust your paycheck so you get the maximum match.   For example, let’s say your company will match 100% of your contribution, up to 3% of your income. If that’s the case, you want to try to have 3% of your income withheld from your paycheck each month in order to take full advantage of this benefit. You can increase your contributions later, but if you’re just starting out, it can make sense to at least get your full match. As your finances improve, you can increase your retirement contributions or start investing in other ways.  

Health Insurance

When considering the importance of employee benefits, health insurance is at the top of the list. The cost of healthcare continues to rise, and a company that provides access to less-expensive health insurance can be very valuable.    Review your own health needs and situation as you look at different health plan options. When deciding how to choose the right benefits for healthcare, it has a lot to do with cost, as well as your individual needs. If you don’t have a lot of need for medications or a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment, you might be able to get a lower-cost plan with less coverage and higher out-of-pocket requirements.   On the other hand, if you have more healthcare needs, employer health insurance can help. You might need a more expensive plan, but it’s likely to be more affordable than trying to get coverage on your own.  

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

In recent years, more companies are offering health insurance plans that come with HSAs. An HSA allows you to save for health care costs over time. You can have some of your paycheck set aside in a special account that allows your money to grow tax-free. You do have to meet certain requirements to qualify — including a plan that has a high deductible. If you can afford to pay more out of pocket due to a high deductible, one of these plans can be useful.   For those who might not be able to get a high-deductible plan, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) can be a good health-related benefit. It, too, comes with tax benefits. However, the main drawback to the FSA is that you might have to use the money or lose it, while HSA funds always roll over from year to year.  

Other Insurance

Some companies also offer other insurance benefits that can be valuable as an employee.   
  • Life insurance: If you’re looking for an affordable way to protect your income on behalf of your loved ones, life insurance can make sense. However, not everyone needs to get life insurance through work. Carefully consider your needs. There are many term life companies that offer low-cost plans that might meet your needs.
  • Disability insurance: Check to see if your company offers this employee benefit. If you’re hurt or have a long-standing illness, this type of insurance can help you pay your bills. This is different from Workers Compensation insurance, which covers you if your injury or illness is directly related to your job. Consider if you’ll be able to pay your bills if you’re temporarily or permanently unable to work.
  Look at your own needs. In some cases, you get a certain amount of coverage for free, so take advantage of that. Then, see if you need additional coverage on top of what’s already offered for free. Compare prices to see if it makes sense to buy additional coverage.  

Student Loan Benefit

An increasingly popular employer benefit is a student loan repayment benefit. While Congress has yet to provide a tax break for this type of employee benefit, it can still be valuable. If your company offers to help you pay a portion of your student loans, or offers a matching repayment option, you could end up getting rid of student debt a little bit faster. Having someone else help you pay off a portion of your student loans can be a big relief, and help you better position your finances for the future.   Just make sure that you weigh your matching retirement contribution against your student loan matching repayment benefit. In many cases, it might make more sense to get your full retirement match first and then put the remaining toward taking advantage of a matching student loan repayment benefit. Run the numbers to see what makes the most sense for you, keeping in mind the power of compounding returns on investments.  

Other Types of Employee Benefits

Finally, you might have access to other types of employee benefits that can be useful to you as you move forward, depending on your situation.   
  • Child care: Some employers offer to help you pay for child care, including a special Flexible Savings Account aimed at covering daycare and preschool costs.
  • Health stipend: In addition to health insurance, some employers offer a stipend for gym memberships, healthy meal delivery plans and more. Check to see if you can get help with these items through an extra benefit.
  • Education: You might have access to tuition reimbursement for continuing education or a stipend for courses or certain books.
  • Financial literacy: Some employers offer access to financial planning services that can help you navigate your benefits as well as make progress in other areas of your financial life.
  Speak with your human resources representative to help you with understanding job benefits, then take some time to think about your individual situation and needs so that you put together a job benefits package designed to work best for you.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no­­­ control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Woman starting a business with student loans
2020-11-05
Starting a Business With Student Loans

Starting a business with student loan debt presents some unique challenges. You may have difficulty securing funding for your business, or you may struggle to make payments on your educational debt while trying to sink money into your startup.   The good news is, it's not impossible to become an entrepreneur while you're launching your company. You don't even have to pay off your student loans before starting a business.   You can explore ways to reduce your student loan debt and can pursue multiple funding options. These include the possibility of actually using student loans to start a business.  Here's what you need to know:  

Repayment Options When Starting a Business With Student Loan Debt

Starting a business with student loan debt presents a few challenges. You'll need a plan to continue making loan payments in case your company doesn't make money immediately. You'll also need to decide how much of your own money you'd like to spend on your company.   Some of your options include the following.  

Income-driven repayment

If you have federal student loans, choosing an income-driven repayment plan could be one of your best options when starting a business. With an income-driven plan, payments are capped at a percentage of your income. That means, if your company isn't making much yet, your payments could be very low or even non-existent.   Depending on the specific income-driven plan you select, your payments could be as low as $0 per month. And after you've made enough on-time payments, eventually the remaining balance of your loan will be forgiven. Of course, if your business does well and your income goes up, your payments will rise. By then, however, you should be able to easily afford to foot the bill.  

Student loan refinancing

Income-driven repayment plans are an option only for federal student loans. If you have private loans, you can't change your repayment term without refinancing. However, when refinancing with a private student lender such as ELFI, you may be able to reduce your interest rate and lengthen your repayment term to lower your monthly payments.   You do need to qualify for a student loan refinancing based on your income and credit score. A cosigner could help if your income isn't very high when your company is first getting off the ground. Also, be aware that if you opt for a longer repayment term, you may pay more in interest over time.  

Student loan forgiveness for entrepreneurs

The federal government doesn't offer student loan forgiveness specifically for entrepreneurs. You may, however, qualify for other programs that could help with your student loan debt.   If you work for a qualifying not-for-profit organization, for example, you could potentially earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you decide to operate your business as a non-profit and you meet the requirements, PSLF could lead to the remaining balance of your federal student loans being forgiven after you make the requisite number of on-time monthly payments.  

Student loan forbearance

Federal and private student loan lenders will sometimes allow you to temporarily pause payments on your loans. However, interest will keep accruing while your payments are paused, so you'll end up with a larger balance to repay.  

Borrowing to start a business

Borrowing to start a business can sometimes be a challenge if you have student debt. When you already owe money for student loans, some lenders may not be comfortable giving you a small business loan or a personal loan. The good news is, you may have multiple options for securing the funding you need.  

Explore personal loan or business loan options

While it can be more difficult to get a personal or business loan if you have a lot of debt, it's not necessarily impossible. A cosigner could up your chances of getting a personal loan, and a solid business model makes approval of a personal loan much more likely.   You may also be able to increase your chances of loan approval if you switch to an income-driven student loan repayment plan or refinance your loans. If doing either lowers your monthly payment, you become a more attractive borrower because your debt-to-income ratio is lower.  

Use your savings

If you can save money before starting your business, you may be able to use the proceeds from your savings account to get your company off the ground without having to borrow. This can be challenging, but if you’re able to keep startup costs down, it may be doable.  

Borrow from friends and family

Your loved ones may be interested in investing in your business if they have the money to do so. However, before you secure a loan from loved ones, make sure that everyone involved understands the loan terms. Make sure you and your family agree on when the loan will be paid back, what interest if any will be charged, and whether your loved ones will get any stake in the business in exchange for giving you money to get the doors open.  

Seek funding from angel investors

Angel investors are willing to invest in startups that they believe have a solid business model and a great idea, but they'll generally want an ownership interest in the company. You can share the risk of your startup if you can get angel investors interested, but you will have to give up some of your future potential profits.  

Consider using student loans to start a business

If you are still in school, you may be able to divert some of your student loan funds to your new venture. If you live frugally and keep your cost-of-living below what the school projects, the extra money could be just what you need to get your startup off the ground.   Of course, you're taking a risk with this approach since you'll graduate with more student loan debt. The upside is, however, that the interest rate could be lower than on other types of loans and you can stretch repayment out over time.   On the other hand, it's very hard to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, so if you get in way over your head in debt, you'll have few options to wipe the slate clean.  

Make smart choices when starting a business with student loans

When you're starting a business with student loans, it's important you've done the work to maximize the chances your company will be a success. If you have a solid business model and you've researched the logistics of what it will take to make a profit, hopefully your company will turn a profit and give you the funding you need to pay off your student debt easily over time.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no­­­ control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Medical professional holding test tube
2020-11-04
7 Unique Careers in Medicine

When most people think about careers in medicine, their minds are drawn to the most prominent jobs, such as physicians, surgeons, and nurses. But there are several careers in the medical field that don’t require you to practice, and some of them may be even more rewarding based on your goals and interests.   If you’re trying to figure out what to do with a medical degree but aren’t sure about working directly with patients, you have options.  

7 alternative careers with a medical degree

What can you do with a medical degree besides practicing medicine? Surprisingly, there are a lot of options. Here are just seven of the unique options available to you.  

1. Medical Illustrator

If you love both art and the science of medicine, becoming a medical illustrator could be an excellent career choice. You’ll use graphic design and other mediums to produce visual images to simplify complex medical information.   Your illustrations may show up in brochures and leaflets, textbooks, corporate materials, and even physicians’ offices.    To qualify for a job as a medical illustrator, you’ll typically need an educational background in both medicine and art — such as a double major in biology and visual art. Also, you can join specific graduate programs designed for that type of career.  

2. Medical Writer

The internet has a wealth of medical information, both for professionals in the field and for patients. If you’re interested in medicine and communications or journalism, you can combine those passions by becoming a medical writer.   As a writer, you’ll be able to research, write, edit and publish medical content to provide the most up-to-date information via medical journals, newspapers, newsletters and other channels.    Medical writers can also provide consulting services to pharmaceutical companies, public health organizations and corporations. Whether it’s advertising, education or legal and regulatory rules, you can play an important role in different areas of medicine.  

3. Musical Therapist

Music therapy employs various interventions to provide for a patient’s emotional, physical, and physiological needs through music. It’s been shown to help people who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, dementia, and even chronic pain.    If you love music but don’t know that you want to make it your main career focus, becoming a musical therapist could be the right move. Alternatively, there are careers in the medical field for art therapists, dance therapists, and animal therapists.  

4. Medical Interpreter

If you speak more than one language fluently, you could provide essential services to patients who experience language barriers. Of course, not just anyone can be a translator in the medical field — you need to know the complex vocabulary that most people learning a second language typically don’t study.    But your experience in medical school can provide you with the knowledge you need to make it happen. Medical interpreters may also be used to translate written material for medical providers, such as paperwork and educational brochures and pamphlets. You may also get the chance to educate medical providers on cultural differences that can help them better serve their patients.  

5. Forensic Specialist

One of the most fascinating careers in medicine is that of a forensic specialist. In the forensic medicine field, you’ll spend your time studying crime scenes and evidence to assist law enforcement.    You’ll also be able to help to provide critical evidence in the justice system, and your recommendations and assessments can make a big difference in the defense of an innocent person or in the prosecution of a guilty one.    In other words, your expertise as a forensic specialist can have a significant impact on the lives of everyday people and their loved ones.  

6. Medical Photographer

Medical photography provides an important function in the medical treatment process. It’s used to help diagnose conditions and show changes brought about by treatment. It’s important for medical photographers to provide photos that are definitive in their interpretations and are not misleading.   In some cases, you may also work with video, graphic design, and illustration. If you’re interested in clinical photography, look into the education requirements and what it takes to land a career.  

7. Medical Science Liaison

A medical science liaison works with researchers, clinicians, and physicians to provide knowledge and advice about products, treatment plans, initiatives and more. To be a good liaison, you must be up to date with the latest clinical data and research in the healthcare industry.   In many cases, medical science liaisons have practiced in the past and are moving into an advisory or consulting role. But there may be other paths based on your goals.  

The Bottom Line

If you’ve ever wondered, “What can you do with an MD degree without residency?” the answer is a lot. These are only seven medical degree jobs that don’t require you to practice medicine, and there are several more.   As you consider different careers in medicine, think about your interests and goals. Also, do some research on the educational requirements and location of medical school jobs because they can vary depending on which area you want to specialize in.    Finally, try to find professionals in the field you’re considering and talk to them about their experiences. This can give you important insight into their daily lives and whether the career path might be a good fit for you too.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no­­­ control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.