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updated: 4/16/2013 11:17 AM

Local Expert Shares Tips for Navigating Jobs Benefits; Women's Financial Freedom Is Also A Featured Topic i

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Mandy Widtfeldt

When you take your first job or transition to a new job, there's a lot to think about, and too often, the benefits package isn't at the top of that list. A recent Harris Interactive survey showed 77 percent of people believe they made mistakes when making enrollment decisions, and 42 percent say those mistakes cost them money.

Mary Gruenberg, an insurance agent and owner of Soarella Consulting in Lombard, is presenting a free seminar for people in the market for a first job or looking to make a job transition called "How to Navigate a Job Benefits Package and Make Informed Decisions." The seminar is being held as part of the 12th annual Money Smart WeekŪ sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and more than 60 DuPage County partners. The seminar will take place on Thursday, April 25 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, 455 Eisenhower Lane South, Suite 200, Room 6, in Lombard. For more information, call 630.608.4337 ext. 131.

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"Employment benefits typically comprise 30 percent, or even more, of your total compensation package so it's important to really understand the benefits package and your options," says Gruenberg. "A common mistake people make is to assume that they shouldn't enroll in certain benefits, like disability insurance, because they don't believe it will ever apply to them."

Other tips and ideas Gruenberg will discuss include:

• When weighing offers, know what the benefits package is worth. This can easily offset a lower salary.

• Once you have the job, ask to speak to the broker or representative for the benefits company to walk you through the options and answer your questions as they will know more than the company's HR representative and this helps protect your privacy.

• Even if you are young and in good health, understand the benefits packages well enough to know what makes the most sense for you rather than just choosing the least expensive health plan. If you aren't sure, seek out an expert you can trust for guidance, such as your personal insurance agent.

Gruenberg will also lead an informal forum titled "The Beauty of Financial Freedom" for women to share experiences with financial matters that are tripping them up and learn tips from others that will make them smarter, more efficient and less stressed when it comes to financial challenges. The forum will be held at Soarella's offices at 101 W. 22nd St, Suite 101, in Lombard on Friday, April 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. RSVPs are requested by calling 630.608.4337 ext. 131 or emailing service@soarella.com.

To learn more about the other events in your area, please visit http://www.moneysmartweek.org and click on "Find an Event," then click on Illinois and select DuPage County.

ABOUT MONEY SMART WEEK DUPAGE

During the 12th annual Money Smart Week DuPage taking place April 20-27, 2013, DuPage residents can get money saving advice at more than 45 events. Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. This is achieved through the collaboration and coordinated effort of organizations across the county including businesses, financial institutions, schools, libraries, not-for-profits, government agencies and the media. These groups come together once a year to stress the importance of financial literacy, inform consumers about where they can get help and provide free educational seminars and activities. For more information, visit moneysmartweek.org and click on Find an Event, click on Illinois and select DuPage County.

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