Benefits and Compensation

4 Ways to Pay for a Financial Wellness Program

More and more companies are adding workplace financial wellness programs – and for good reason. Employees who aren’t worrying about financial problems on the job tend to be more focused, productive workers. A new survey says 83% of employers now offer financial wellness programs (up 20% from two years ago), and 14% plan on offering a program in the next year or two.

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For many companies, the decision to add a financial wellness benefit is an easy one; but figuring out how to pay for it can be a challenge.

Fortunately, there are several ways to fund the launch of a financial wellness benefit, both traditional and non-traditional.

1. Out-of-Pocket

 The easiest way to pay for a financial wellness program is out-of-pocket from your annual wellness budget. After you talk to a plan advisor or a program administrator about the costs of a particular financial wellness program for your organization, paying for it out of pocket may make the most sense.

If you already have a defined organizational budget to help pay for wellness programs for employees, you may be able to use it to add financial wellness to the mix.

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Financial wellness programs can return up to $7 for every dollar invested into a program, so the sooner you’re able to introduce it to your employees, the sooner you’ll be able to start realizing the benefits. Using a general wellness or benefits budget may help you roll out a program sooner rather than exploring alternative payment methods.

2.  ERISA Budget Account

Depending on the size of your organization, your retirement and financial services offerings may have an ERISA budget account associated with them.

ERISA budget accounts are a separate account retirement providers have that allows them to pay for continued wellness programs for participants. After administrative costs and legal expenses are deducted from plans, remaining monies are put into a separate account that employers and plan advisers can use to provide resources to employees.

While some financial service providers have their own wellness programs built-in that they allocate funds to, ERISA budgets can sometimes be allocated for outside wellness services. The best way to find out if you have an ERISA budget available or what services can be paid for with it is to talk to your plan adviser. You may be able to pay for a significant portion of a financial wellness benefit through the funds remaining in this account.

3. Health and Wellness Services

In addition to the funds you may find in an ERISA budget account, your health insurance service provider may also have funds available for additional wellness programs.

Nearly a third of Americans report that their personal financial stress affects their mental wellbeing and their productivity at work. And because stress can manifest into long-term health problems like increased risk of serious diseases or declining mental health, a wellness budget may allow you to introduce financial wellness initiatives to mitigate this stress.

Talk to your current healthcare providers about what’s expensable with a health and wellness budget account to see if a financial wellness program can be considered.

4. Learning and Continued Education Budget

Finally, your organization may have an education budget available to use for financial wellness programs. A Chief Learning Officer usually administers these funds to offer continued learning and betterment programs to employees.

Organizations have recognized the importance of offering continued educational support to their employees. Nearly 90% of millennial employees report that continued education and professional development are an important part of their job.

A continued education budget allows employers to help employees grow both personally and professionally. A strong financial wellness program can not only educate employees about their personal finances, it can help them feel more focused and empowered at work to grow into new positions.

If your organization has a Chief Learning Officer, talk to them about how a financial wellness program may be paid for with an education budget.


Paying for a financial wellness program is often the biggest bottleneck employers face when trying to introduce it into their organization. Although the ROIs and VOIs are well documented, finding the funds to pay for a program can still take a while.

If your organization is unable to pay for a financial wellness benefit out-of-pocket, consider tapping into other wellness and education budgets at your organization. Talk to your existing benefits providers to see how ERISA or wellness budget accounts could help foot the bill for financial wellness for your employees.

Chris Whitlow is the founder and CEO of Edukate, a workplace financial wellness provider with a mission to give every person access to expert financial guidance. Chris works with the Edukate team to solve problems that ease the financial stress most Americans experience each day. Edukate helps employers provide the best financial wellness benefits, thus helping employees manage their financial stress, increase their productivity, and live happier, healthier lives.

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