Retirement, Investments, & Insurance for Individuals Build your knowledge Starting a new job? Do these 6 money musts first

Starting a new job? Do these 6 money musts first

When it comes time to change jobs, this financial checklist can help keep your money goals on track.

Man shaking hands with co-worker during a new job meeting
3 min read |

In any given month, about 4 million people switch jobs. That’s 4 million new commutes, revamped lunch routines—and financial must-dos like updating 401(k)s and health savings accounts. Use this list to take care of your money-focused, job-change to-dos.

1. Review job benefit dates and coverage.

Human resources departments can help: When do old benefits end and new ones begin? Most important are probably insurance coverage amounts and effective dates—health, dental, vision, disability, and life, if offered. For short- or long-term health insurance needs, consider:

  • COBRA continuation coverage, where you pay the full premium for short-term health insurance. 
  • A Health Insurance Marketplace plan, with costs that vary based on your household income and state plan availability.
  • A spouse/partner insurance plan, which often requires sign up within 30 days of your last day on the job.

2. Check your flexible spending account (FSA) and health savings account (HSA).

FSAs are generally “use it or lose it,” so review your company’s benefit rules and deadlines, and submit claims before your termination date so you’ll get reimbursed. Not sure what’s covered? Your employer has a list. Visit for more information about FSAs.

Unlike an FSA, an HSA travels with you, no matter the job. If you’re enrolling in a high deductible health plan (HDHP) at your new employer, you can often transfer your existing HSA balance. If you don’t plan to enroll in a HDHP, you can generally leave remaining HSA funds where they are (and contribute new dollars) and use as needed for future eligible healthcare expenses.

3. Understand compensation details.

Your last check from your old job may include back pay, earned time off, commissions, or a bonus, if eligible. Check with human resources about vesting and tax implications for compensation including stock options or restricted stock awards. (Many companies require you to exercise stock options within a certain amount of time, often 90 days from your termination date.) Compensation for tuition reimbursement depends on your old company’s specific program.

At your new job, ask about the pay schedule—weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly—and then consider its impact on your budget, even in the short term.

4. Make a choice for old retirement savings.

You have four options for an employer-sponsored plan:

  • Keep your money where it’s at, if allowed; sometimes a low balance (typically under $7,000) equals an automatic pay out.
  • Move your money to your new employer’s plan, if allowed.
  • Roll 401(k) savings into an IRA.
  • Cash out your account balance, which may come with taxes and penalties—up to 30%.

5. Set up new retirement savings details.

If your job move equals a pay bump, consider saving more—even a little, or enough to get the employer savings match, if available. No matter the compensation and benefit details of your new job, use the change as an opportunity to update beneficiaries on both old and new plans. (Use this Principal form to help.)

6. Adjust student loan income repayment plans.

If you’re enrolled in an income-bound repayment option, a pay bump may equal a change in your monthly repayment totals. Check the Federal Student Aid site for details.

What's next?

Log in to to check your savings rate and adjust if needed. Don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement account or want to save even more? We can help you set up your retirement savings with an individual retirement account (IRA). Ready to learn more ways you can build your financial foundation? Our learning library can help.