How To Make The Right Open Enrollment Decisions This Year

In this episode, Maggie sits down with Metlife's Meredith Ryan-Reid and The Finance Bar's Marsha Barnes. They chat about how employees can make sure to make the right healthcare and benefit decisions during open enrollment this season, and how employers can also help them to do so.

Open enrollment season doesn’t have to be stressful or scary. But it is important that you’re making the decisions that are best for you and your family. In this episode, Meredith Ryan-Reid and Marsha Barnes give advice on how you can make the right open enrollment decisions, especially during a global pandemic, and how your employer can help you do so.

Related Links:

Meredith Ryan-Reid serves as senior vice president and head of MetLife’s Financial Wellness & Engagement organization. Her organization has responsibility for powering employee engagement across the U.S. Business with an initial focus on enrollment and financial wellness and a longer-term focus on solutions that enable U.S. business growth and strengthen customer lifetime value. Ryan-Reid joined MetLife in 2013 to build and lead the Group Accident & Health business.

She went on to lead the Distribution Development & Benefits Delivery team. In these roles, she’s managed P&Ls, global broker relationship teams, third party distribution development, partnerships with key HR technology firms, voluntary benefits strategy and sales enablement. Her teams also designed and delivered sales training and hiring programs, rewards and recognition events and broker compensation plans.

Ryan-Reid joined MetLife from Starr Companies, where she ran the North American Accident and Health Division. Before joining Starr, she worked on the brokerage side of the industry, producing new business and managing large client relationships for Marsh (commercial insurance) and Mercer (health & benefits). Prior to Marsh, Ryan-Reid spent ten years on the insurance carrier side of the business in underwriting, sales, and general management roles at both CIGNA and AIG. Ryan-Reid is the executive sponsor for MetLife’s Diverse Abilities employee resource group and is a passionate sponsor of Women in Sales.

Outside of work, Ryan-Reid serves as her alumni class president and is a member of the Johnson School Advisory Council at Cornell University’s business school. She received her MBA from Cornell and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond where she played Division I lacrosse. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two daughters.

Marsha Barnes is a personal finance expert, financial social worker, commentator and Founder of The Finance Bar. Marsha was named as Go Banking Rates 2018 Best Money Expert in the Net Worth Category by Go Banking Rates and currently serves as the national ambassador for FICO.

To join the Money Circle Community, visit

To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit

The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano 0:07
Thanks for listening to the money circle Podcast. I am your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationship with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life or in society as a whole. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In this safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We will break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there.

Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host, Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Meredith Ryan-Reid, who is the senior vice president and head of financial wellness and engagement at MetLife. And Marsha Barnes who is the founder of the finance bar. In this episode, the three of us talk all about open enrollment and why it’s so important for employees to be as informed as possible going into this season, especially while we’re still being impacted by the covid 19 pandemic. If you struggle to feel confident about your enrollment decisions each fall and you want to feel more secure about your finances and your health care. This episode is for you.

Okay, welcome, Meredith and Marsha. Thank you so much for being here today.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 2:00
Thank you for having us.

Maggie Germano 2:02
So before we kind of jump into the topic at hand, I’d love to have each of you introduce yourselves, tell us who you are, and what kind of work you do.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 2:13
Sure, so I’m Meredith Ryan Reid, I work for MetLife, I lead our financial wellness and engagement business in the US. And I’m also a mother of two little girls and working in Connecticut, even though I usually go into New York every day and getting very comfortable with this new new working world.

Marsha Barnes 2:35
And Hi, everyone, I am Marsha Barnes, founder of the finance bar. My background is in financial, social work and financial education. I reside in Charlotte, North Carolina, mother of one to the greatest kid on or that they all moms say that and married to my high school sweetheart, I’m really happy to be here today.

Maggie Germano 2:54
That’s great. And thank you both for being here. I’m excited to get your expertise. So real quickly, I just I always like to ask what kind of led you into the work that you’re doing. Now, I always find the journey to be somewhat interesting. So yeah, if you could each quickly share kind of how you got to where you are, that’d be great.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 3:17
So I can share a little bit of that I, like many people, came into the insurance business by accident, met a great group of people on campus and was recruited to go work for an insurance company. But what I liked from the very beginning was that I knew I would be doing something that was important and had a impact on people’s lives. So I always really have loved that part of my work. In the recent past, you know, I’ve done a lot of different things. I’ve been an underwriter, I’ve been in sales, I’ve done a bunch of different jobs across a couple insurance companies. But over the recent, you know, five to 10 years, I’ve been very focused on voluntary benefits and communications. And we’ve learned so much about how we can most effectively break through and engage with employees and how important that is and how big a difference it makes in terms of what they decide. So that sort of led me to this. This next assignment, which I had some responsibilities for are all of our financial wellness capabilities. But we combined both the financial wellness and the engagement piece together, because we really think that that is critical and really at the center, if we’re not able to talk to people in a way that relates to their life to the progress they’re trying to make in their life, then, you know, a lot of it doesn’t matter. So I love that combination. And also, you know, MetLife foundation is very committed to financial literacy and financial insecurity and making progress on that front. And we have so many terrific connections in this world that I’m just personally passionate about, and I’m really interested in how how people behave, what appeals to people, and how they can make better decisions. So they feel, they feel well, and they feel more confident in the choices they’ve made. So it’s been an evolution. For me, I’m learning something new every single day. And I think I’ve honestly personally benefited from this work too. And, and especially in this, you know, last couple months, I’ve really thought about how I’m planning and protecting my family and a lot of the decisions that that we’re making. So it’s a big circle.

Marsha Barnes 5:28
It’s a huge circle. And for me, my background, I have over 15 years of banking experience, that was really the start of my career, you know, outside of I was in the Navy, like fresh out of high school, and then I went to college. So my background is in banking, and many of the departments that the departments that I really worked in were foreclosure, bankruptcy, learning and development. So I really had close ties to working with our customers that were having financial difficulties, like many of them made, you know, missteps along the way. But then many of them were hit with recession, and they lost everything they had, you know, something that many people dream about having homes. So for me, my passion came from helping people to prepare, as opposed to being candidates. And while I enjoy doing that work at the bank, for the bank, I really wanted to see what type of impact I could make. Throughout my communities, no, and my neighborhoods, because so many people were overlooked financially, many people felt like, you know, they didn’t have a lot of money, then they couldn’t sit with anybody to talk about money, and how to manage money. So that was my sole purpose of really launching the finance bar, not only working locally, but then globally with different organizations to help them elevate their message, you know, for their employees and for their consumers. So it’s really, always say that personal finance is my ministry, because I wake up thinking about it. And I go to sleep thinking about it, like ways that I can help other people resolve with other issues they’re in because I believe that money rules so much around us, you know, we can’t even get very these days without money being a part of it. So that’s really how I got involved into the work that I do.

Maggie Germano 7:09
I love that. And thank you both. It’s it’s always fun to hear kind of how people find themselves where they are, it’s often a winding road, even if it ends up feeling kind of natural. So thank you for sharing. So I have you both here today to talk about a recent report that was released by MetLife, regarding open enrollment and kind of how employees are feeling about that this year. And every year I either on my blog or on this podcast like to talk about health care and open enrollment, because it’s something everyone should be thinking about at something. Anyone who’s provided health insurance through an employer has to be thinking about and folks who go through the marketplace as well. So I’m excited to have you both here to talk about that. So can you kind of give an overview of what that report kind of covered and what it was sort of looking for?

Meredith Ryan-Reid 8:02
Sure. So you know, every year we we like to do this survey to understand how people are thinking about open enrollment and thinking about benefits in general. And honestly, what what I think we struggle with the most is, you know, a lack of awareness, and sometimes not necessarily sense of apathy, but more of a sense of how does this relate to me? And do I really need to think about this. What we wanted to test this year, obviously, was in light of COVID and everything that’s happening in, you know, a tougher economy. How are people feeling? How are employees thinking about benefits and enrollment this year, and we found that nearly half 48% said that open enrollment is more important this year than it was last year. Two and Three, two out of three employee said, you know, the main driver of that was because of COVID. So people have a lot of concern about their physical health, their family, who they need to care for and protect many people have, certainly have children at home who would be at school. Many are taking in other relatives and dependents and elderly parents and they’re very concerned about it. And then I also think that people are just worried about their personal finances. So it’s it’s a double whammy. So we’re seeing a lot more interest in specific benefits like life insurance. Some of the pre tax health and flexible savings accounts are very interesting to people as are the supplemental health products that can help protect no out of pocket expense if you have to go to the hospital, for example. And then I think one of the most promising things for for people like us, we’re always trying to raise awareness is that 40% of employees said they intend to spend more time on their benefit decisions this year, which is critical because there’s not one size fits all. There’s not a specific, you know, this is what everyone should do. It really has to be About your own personal situation, and nobody knows that better than you. So we really hope that people are able to take the time and make better decisions this year.

Maggie Germano 10:09
Yeah, I totally agree. And I think it’s already come up more than once where, you know, understanding your own needs and your own circumstances is very important. Because Yeah, like you said, no one else can make that decision for you in a way that’s going to be useful. So being as informed and engaged as possible is really important. And so who, you know, before we kind of dig into the details, I know that there’s probably a lot of people out there who might be like, I hear about open enrollment every year, I hear people talking about this, I’m not even sure what that actually means. And if it applies to me, so could you talk about, you know, even just at the basis level, what is open enrollment, and who does it typically apply to?

Meredith Ryan-Reid 10:54
Sure, I’ll give you my official responses, as plainly as possible. And then I’m sure Marsha can can weigh in based on how she talks about this with her, her constituents as well. So we we like to make it very easy. And it’s the time of year when employers are offering up their benefit packages to their employees. So it typically happens every year. It can happen anytime during the year. But what most of our, you know, most of our larger customers have January 1 effective date. So most people are, are rolling out communications and their benefit offerings in late October, early November. That can differ by employer. But regardless, open enrollment is typically a two week period, when employees can review what’s new, what’s what’s, you know, additional benefits, what’s changed from the year before, people want to pay attention to things like contribution levels, understand new benefits the employer might be offering like mental health benefits, which are very important right now. And it’s the chance you have to enroll. So it’s oftentimes just those two weeks, so you don’t want to miss this chance. Because there’s, you know, there’s an exception process throughout the year. But for most people, this is when you have to make these choices, and then you get to, you know, change them the next year. But it’s, it’s important, and it’s designed that way on purpose, so that you can draw a little more attention to it, and people know what they have to decide. And, you know, for for so many companies, this is this is the time end of October, early November.

Marsha Barnes 12:39
Yeah. And I would like to also add to that, for me, many people, my audience, my clients, would my conversations are usually, you know, geared around, how much does someone earn, like, and what can that money do for me, but oftentimes, we leave out our employers that an additional benefit on top of our income, or the benefits that they offer us, so I always share with them the importance to really focus in on open enrollment periods, because for many of us, things change from year to year, even if it’s our health, or even as even if it’s the fact that we are now more knowledgeable about something, you know, as Meredith mentioned, whether it’s legal benefits, or any of those voluntary options that you don’t have to have, the more you know, the more you grow. That’s what I always share with my audience members. So it’s really important that while we think about income benefits are extremely important, because it allows for you not to have to save for another emergency, if someone fills in the gap for them. So I always like to say, and I, you know, I’ve said this before, and for transparency, sometimes benefits are not the sexiest thing to think about. It’s just not because who wants to think about an emergency, but it’s very attractive. When you have planned forward, you have a bit of financial confidence. You don’t have to save for another emergency, you know, how much money is coming out of your check. So, you know, to Meredith’s point, those two weeks allow for you to sit down for a couple of hours to say to yourself, what has changed for me, and even if nothing has changed, what are some options that I have now that I wasn’t aware of last year. So I think that it’s very critical to someone’s overall financial health well beyond just the income that they earn.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 14:24
Okay, that’s a great point, Marsha, and you give terrific advice to your clients. You know, I think we all heard the statistic that the largest cause of bankruptcy is unexpected medical expenses. And for most people, it’s a $500 expense. So, you know, we know that most people can’t save six months of their income for a rainy day. That’s a really hard thing to do. But some of the supplemental health products, you know, are a couple hundred dollars for the whole year. They’re automatically deducted out of your paycheck, and you know, they can really come in More than handy, but they can be life saving in the event of an unexpected illness or an accident, again, things we don’t like to think about. But if you plan for them, it really can keep you, you know, keep you protected, but also give you a sense of confidence. And you know, I might not have done the 10 things I know I need to do, but at least I checked these one or two off the list, maybe I can do a little bit more next year. And we think that that confidence is really important to giving people a sense of control.

Maggie Germano 15:36
Right? And yeah, confidence around your finances, confidence around security for your family, that’s huge. It makes such a positive impact where it’s like, okay, exactly like you signed Meredith like, I know that I made this decision, and my family will at least be protected in this kind of way. And that does wonders. And so how can individuals try their best to be as informed and educated as possible as they’re kind of moving into this open enrollment season, maybe looking at any benefits that have changed or wanting to understand, you know, the full picture, again, to make sure that they’re building up that confidence that they’re making the right decision? How can they they build up that, that, that education for themselves?

Marsha Barnes 16:22
I think it’s important to be just very specific about your very own lifestyle, because oftentimes, we seek the advice of others. You know, Meredith, like, what are you enrolling in this year? Meredith? Are you enrolling in FSA and HSA? And so we follow the lead of other people, which is great, I think that it’s wise to go to those individuals that you trust. But oftentimes, it’s not unique to us. And when it’s not unique to us, and Meredith mentioned earlier, how can this work for you like it’s eventually essentially, it’s coming out of your paycheck, so it still should work for you. So the best advice I would share with someone is just to get very specific, sit down with a sheet of paper, write down what you need in your life, when I go to the drugstore, what do I have to pay out of pocket? That doesn’t make me feel good? Or an unexpected emergency that I didn’t budget for? Like, how was My health? Do I need any dental work done this year that I’ve been holding out on? Do I have a pet? Do I need some type of pet insurance? Am I getting a house soon, even if I’m not like well, I closed before the end of next year is over could identify it from that legal insurance. So I think that what people could really look for is to just ask yourself, what would be specific to me, and then take those questions like to your HR department, and consult with them identify, like, tell them what it is that you want to do. And maybe they can offer up some suggestions. So I can’t stress the importance of just being very specific, while also speaking to individuals that you trust along the way.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 17:54
That’s great information. And, and I would say there’s some things that might not be relevant for you anymore. either. I can give my own personal story, I finally got around to signing up for the commuter benefit, which shame on me for not having done that, you know, 15 years. But I finally Like I said, I was getting serious about my own financial wellness is I’m doing all this work and making sure you know, I follow through on all of all of those things that I can take advantage of, of course, I did it right before the pandemic hit. And we all started working from home again. So I needed to go back It took me a couple months to remember but but to go back in and stop contributing to that, because I was no longer driving to the train. But it’s uh, it’s, uh, you know, it’s one silly example. But definitely, you know, there’s been a lot of people have gotten pandemic puppies. And I think, you know, most people aren’t thinking about insurance, they’re thinking about, how do I train this puppy. And it sounded like a great idea at the time. But now I got to figure out, you know, the schedule with the family, and you know, all this, oh, I had no idea how expensive pets were. So those are the sort of, you know, I think, you know, good news kind of stories where, you know, most people don’t know that their employer might offer something that can help save the money. Same thing for auto insurance and homeowners insurance. Many employers offer discounted programs. And then there’s, you know, the more serious stuff so so we know that people are trying to get more information in general, about, you know, caring for loved ones and preparing for a worst case scenario. So there are a lot of people that are looking for information on Will’s health care proxies, all of those questions that have come up and all of the issues that have been prompted because of the situation we’re in right now. I think there is there’s more information than people realize and start with your employer. Check out the website, read the things that come home. And then there’s usually an option to talk to someone whether that’s a trained professional, a benefits counselor, a financial advisor, or sometimes you know, someone in the HR department or a friend or colleague, you You really learn a lot, if you’re willing to have those conversations with people. But what we know from from our study is, is still, you know, 47% of people feel uncomfortable having conversations about benefits. So I think that when people, you know, kind of take that first step and open up the conversation, a lot of people benefit. So I would just encourage people to keep reaching out, and you’ll, you’ll be surprised what you learn.

Maggie Germano 20:24
Yeah, I totally agree. And and I think, well, there’s two takeaways from both from what you both just were talking about. So obviously, open enrollment is not just about health insurance, there’s lots of other things involved, whether it’s your employer offering pet insurance, or legal support, or disability insurance, or anything else that’s kind of on top of that, there’s a big package and a lot of things involved, where a lot of people might not necessarily know what they might be missing out on that they actually really need. And then the other piece is, I think a lot of people probably feel like this is a such an individualized process, that they have to just go about it completely on their own. And if they don’t understand it, that is maybe you know, close their eyes and pick one and hope for the best. And so it sounds like there are resources to get the information that you need that and folks there either, who, whose job it is to do this, or your colleagues or whoever it might be, who can kind of help guide you and help you feel like you’re making the right decision.

Marsha Barnes 21:31
Yeah, for sure. Like when you’re when you’re worried about your finances, or open enrollment. In general, you always want to have someone to confide in. But when we think about going to work, many of us go to Well, many people in general, many employees go to work to work to earn money, right to pay bills that’s in for transparency, or to save money or to invest, oftentimes, we just simply don’t consider benefits. So which is why the survey done by MetLife is so important, because it allows the people to have a voice to really communicate what’s really important to them, and then them to now be guided, as Meredith and I mentioned earlier, that there are resources typically available from at most, for most employers, or remote for most employees. So if you just seek out the information, the information is available to you. But it’s also important to know that that is just part of the job and doing the research to identify what people how people are there to serve you like how they how they can really assist you along the way with helping you to walk through some of the things that you simply don’t understand, or you were never taught. Now, many people weren’t told him about the benefits of enrollment, they were taught to get a job, you know, to pay their bills in many communities. So I just think that it’s essential. When we think about how many people are worried right now, Meredith mentioned earlier, the MetLife survey, two out of three people said those worries come from COVID-19. So just that alone says to us that now because people are more aware, they are just now more knowledgeable, and they are just listening more and understanding what resources are available to them.

Maggie Germano 23:10
Yeah. And so related to that, how can employers make sure that they’re supporting their employees through this process, that they’re communicating properly, and that everyone’s getting kind of the information and support that they need so that everybody can make the right decisions?

Meredith Ryan-Reid 23:28
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, it’s those open channels of communication. We know so many of our our customers are spending more time and money on communications. I think this year, especially most people know, hey, we can’t rely on someone seeing a poster in the cafeteria, or going to a group meeting. That’s, you know, in the, in the office. So a lot of the onsite services have moved online, I think we’ve learned that people prefer in this environment, shorter, more frequent communications. And, you know, I think we, we also know that employees might have greater demand for information than they have in the past, and employers might not be able to meet that full demand. So I think that, you know, they’re, they’re open to trying to come up with creative ways to make sure people have what they need. We know that one of the, you know, maybe one of the positive things that’s come out of this environment is that people are more determined than they ever have been to improve their financial health. So in our survey, seven and 10, seven, improving financial health is one of their most important goals this year. And again, 45% said they felt insecure. So I think that people are going to be, you know, actively looking for this trying to make progress, maybe conquering some things that they couldn’t have done last year. You know, we know people are spending less money, people are spending less money on their credit cards. So you know, they’re looking for ways to be smarter about the decisions they make, and also Potentially, they’re more willing to invest or contribute more to a 401k or a 529 plan. So I think employers are expecting to get more energy and questions from their employees. And they’re struggling to figure out how they can deliver on all that.

Maggie Germano 25:18
Yeah, that’s interesting. And I know, based on studies that I’ve seen in the past and other conversations I’ve had, and even just when I was an employee, and going through these processes at work, I know that, you know, there is a lot of information there, they have like the websites, and they’re sending out the emails, and it can just be tough to get people to kind of read them properly. Because it is a lot of information, it can feel overwhelming, especially during a global pandemic, and a lot of people are at home with their kids and very distracted. And so it can be really tough. But it sounds like it’s still going to be an ongoing kind of struggle to get the right information out there to employees, and making sure they’re kind of understanding things as they move forward.

Marsha Barnes 26:06
Yeah, yeah, I think it’s all about engagement. You know, Meredith mentioned, at the top of our top of our call, how important connecting financial wellness is benefits are, you know, to just engagement with employees. So that is the part you know, if your employers are offering it, you know, as the employee being willing to now meet them, you know, halfway to say that we offer it, you know, now here you are, let’s both get together and figure out how it can work for you. I think that’s a wonderful benefits like benefits, any, you know, essentially are a blessing is something that many people don’t have, and they wish they did have it not only in voluntary options, but voluntary options, when you can identify a way to mitigate financial risks for yourself. That in itself, is financial empowerment. So you are empowering yourself. Like when you enroll into benefits, and really research the information that’s out there available to you definitely think that while employers are trying to, you know, do their best and learn ways that they can engage more, it is also the responsibility of the employee to put yourself in a situation to make the time to gain a better understanding of what’s available to you, because the information is out there. For sure.

Maggie Germano 27:23
Yeah, I totally agree. And and I would also add, because I think one of you touched on this earlier of, you know, understanding, like, what is the out of pocket costs for different things, what are you already paying for, that maybe doesn’t always feel good, but like you’ve kind of accepted like, I just have to pay out of pocket for this. Like, for example, having an FSA account or an HSA account, where, you know, if you’re signing up for that, you’re like, oh, like, this is gonna be an extra amount of money coming out of my paycheck every month, it’s like, well, you’re already paying for that with your credit card, when or your debit card, when you’re going to pick up a prescription or paying a copay when you go to the doctor. And if it’s getting taken out of your paycheck already, like it’s already going to be on that card for you. You won’t have to budget for it on a monthly basis. And then it’s also pre tax. So there’s tax benefits to that as well. So just understanding like, what you’re already paying for, and what the benefit is to enroll in, you know, these other services, and again, having that peace of mind and that security that that’s available to you.

Marsha Barnes 28:27
Yeah, that’s such a great point, Maggie, because that’s what many people are concerned about adding another benefit, which means more money comes out of my check. So the more information they can have around that, because that’s one of their greatest concerns, taking home more money, you know, again, just doing the research around, like, what does that look like for you? And how would it work? But to your point, it’s one less thing that you have to budget for.

Maggie Germano 28:51
Exactly, yeah. So is there anything else about this report, in particular, or open enrollment more generally, that you want to make sure listeners understand and take away as they’re entering this enrollment season?

Meredith Ryan-Reid 29:10
So, you know, I think the opportunity for people to feel more confident isn’t just a nice to have, it’s actually something that can help improve your emotional health and really reduce the level of stress and anxiety that you have. So the control piece I think, can’t be overlooked. You know, if for nothing else, even if you think you have everything you need just to go in and again, take more time this year than you did last year. You know, there’s benefits of that. Just going through the practice of double checking and confirming and making sure everything still makes sense. You know, we did some really interesting research outside of just this open enrollment survey, where we actually talked to many individuals one person at a time to really better understand how they make findings. And benefit decisions? And what sort of, you know, tools or banks do they use? How did they save? How did they spend? How did they talk to their partner about these decisions? You know, what are all those sort of components that come into play. And one of the things we did was we asked people to take a picture if they wanted to have where they had these conversations. And for many people, they took a picture of like, a sad kind of file cabinet in the corner, or maybe it was, you know, at the kitchen table. And I think about that a lot, right now, as we’re all you know, most people are working either completely from home or, or part time from home, if you’re lucky enough to be to be working right now. And you’re closer to that stuff, you’re physically closer to that stuff. And you’re definitely closer to the people you’re living with. So this might be the year where all of this stuff is literally within your reach. And it’s a great time to go through it. You know, I’ve heard from people I work with, who have gone through a process of getting all their information in order. So you know, we’ve all seen the TV show where the doctor comes in and tell someone to get their affairs in order. And it’s, you know, a scary moment, it’s not something you ever want to hear. But I think some people are literally thinking like that right now and saying, you know, where is my policy or our will up to date? What do we need to think about because no one wants to not be prepared if the unexpected happens. And right now, the unexpected is not as remote as it used to be. So I think people are thinking about not only how they’re going to spend and save and make different decisions, but also, how can I get organized? And how can I make sure I understand all this stuff, and my partner understands it as well. And my parents know, or, you know, my loved ones know, you know, what my, my wishes are where everything is? Because I think we’ve all heard those stories and what’s left behind and how everyone needs to put the pieces back together. So that’s something else that I’m hearing a lot of now that I you know, I didn’t hear about last year.

Marsha Barnes 32:06
Yeah, for sure. And I’ll just say the importance of researching, research, jump in, ask questions. When you feel lost, or you feel turned around or it feels uneasy. Just ask, you know, ask the question, many of us have been in situations ourselves. So so many people can relate. I know, personally, I have, like, I’ve had people that have been directly impacted by COVID-19. And I know how scary it could be Meredith mentioned, the importance of just simply getting organized. And maybe that’s step one. That was a great point that Meredith mentioned, step one is getting organized, because when you’re organized, you can better identify what you are missing. You know, so if I get organized, and I start to pull a wheel, and there is no wheel, maybe I do need to look into the voluntary options of legal, right? If I look around, I can’t find like, I didn’t get glasses, but I you know, I still my vision is still blurred. I held off on it and just made it through the year. Maybe I do need to go see a doctor do I need to add that. So I definitely believe getting organized should be step one. Step two is research. Step three is ask questions that you’re unsure about. And then you repeat that every single year. And the more consistent you are, the more easy these talks around financial wellness become. And then you’re able to pass the torch on to other people and guide and direct them as well just get fully in tune. financial wellness is just so critical, just to our overall life. In general.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 33:35
I say Marsha just made me think of something that might be a little bit silly. But I took pride in it. About three weeks ago, I got my flu shot. And I had the you know, the big bandaid on that said, I you know, I got my flu shot. And I actually went to go work out. And a couple people saw my band aid. They’re like, Well, did you get your flu shot? I was like I did, and you should get yours too. And I just, I just felt good about it. It was one thing that I could control that day. And I felt like wow, this was good, you know, kind of go get another one. I made my husband get his and you know, it’s just those, those little things we can all do just to feel a little bit, you know, safer or more prepared. I personally benefit from it. So I I just I thought it was a good analogy for for open enrollment this year.

Marsha Barnes 34:22
Yeah, it’s a great analogy. I used to have a boss that would take off one day of PTO each year. And she would always tell us that that was her one day that she went around to all of her doctors. And then she focused on open enrollment. And I was like, Oh, she’s a genius. Because you think about how much you struggled throughout the year like trying to meet doctor’s appointments in between meetings and you don’t want to take off work because you don’t want to miss something. So you feel like you know, benefits and taking care of yourself. It becomes a burden. And it’s not it’s something that your employers offer to you. So it’s something that you should definitely get into for sure. Don’t move.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 35:02
That’s great.

Maggie Germano 35:03
I totally agree. And I agree with the organization piece too. I mean, I talk about this with my coaching clients as well, where it’s like, if you don’t know where you’re starting from, you’re not going to know where you need to end up being. And it’s, you know, that’s the same with your budget, that’s the same with your, your insurance and your other benefits, too. And, like you said, Marsha, the more you do it, the easier it will be every year because you’re starting from a more organized place. And so instead of it being this big, stressful moment, decide decision making moment, every single year, it’s like, okay, I already know kind of what’s going on. So now I just need to see if I need to alter anything, and it can be easy. And it can, again, instill that confidence piece and ensure that you know, you’re making the right decisions for yourself and your family.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 35:50

Maggie Germano 35:52
Great. So is there anything either of you want to promote to listeners that you have going on with either of you.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 36:02
So I’ll just mention, you know, if, if anyone wants any additional information, we’ve put together a great website, it’s, all one word. There’s some great resources there. And there’s videos that we really enjoy. They’re real people talking to each other. And I think they’re very relatable and have some great information. So that’s what, that’s what we recommend, if, you know, obviously, after people have looked on their own employers website and consumed all that information, please feel free to go to that site as well.

Marsha Barnes 36:38
Yeah, and I would say, our direct direct website, there are blog posts, now they’re about open enrollment, follow us on social media. There’ll be information there and tips and videos about open enrollment. So just definitely visit us there just to learn as much as you can. As Meredith mentioned, we are all spending more time at home, especially as we go into the fall months. So just educate yourself around the importance of financial wellness.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 37:05
I love Marsha’s website. I’ve been on there myself. It’s it’s beautiful and very informative. So thank you, you know, just instead of going to Pinterest, go to go to Marsha’s website, you’ll feel good.

Maggie Germano 37:19
Yes. And I will link to all of those resources as well in the show notes so that folks have easy access to that. Well, grit, this was a great conversation. Thank you both for coming on to share your expertise and your thoughts. I’m confident that listeners will get a lot out of this and feel more comfortable and confident moving into open enrollment season.

Marsha Barnes 37:40
Thank you for having us, Maggie.

Meredith Ryan-Reid 37:43
Maggie, thank you for this and also for everything you do to raise awareness. It’s really important. So thank you.

Maggie Germano 37:49
Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper. Join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space. We will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit to learn more. And to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just to read my blog visit You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye.