Over the past couple of years, Americans have gotten worse at saving money for their future. In fact, 40 percent of people wouldn’t be able to afford a $400 emergency cost according to the Federal Reserve.

Financial stress that results from this lack of savings has been proven to strain job performance and work attendance, so employers are (or should be) jumping at the opportunity to improve the financial wellness of their employees beyond just retirement.

What’s keeping employees from investing in a 401(k)? (Hint: It’s paying off debt)

To improve their financial health programs, companies must understand where the bulk of an employee’s paycheck goes in the first place.

The average American household spends 90 percent of their income, and most of that paycheck is gone before they even get the chance to put money aside for savings.

Much of these expenditures obviously go towards essential costs like housing, food, taxes, and health care. But a large chunk, sometimes bigger than expected, goes towards bills that people don’t always think about.

For over 44 million Americans, one of those substantial expenses is student loan debt, which currently totals $1.48 trillion dollars. This especially applies to the younger generations of workers as 70 percent of students leave college in debt.

Mix this with somewhat stagnant wages and an ever-rising cost of living, and that puts retirement savings out of reach for thousands, if not millions, of people.

Credit card debt is another major concern. Despite a healthy economy and unemployment rate, most people owe roughly $7,000 to credit card companies, adding to $420 billion nationwide.

Not to mention, student loans often cause a snowball effect — 55 percent of Americans who have student loan debt also have credit cards to pay off, usually with a balance of twice as much as those without student loans to pay.

When these bills are combined with other expenses like mortgages, auto loans, childcare, and outstanding medical costs, the normal American household will have to pay $136,000 to get out of the red.

Simply put, many people can’t think about saving for retirement – let alone emergencies –  because they are busy catching up financially.

Introducing short-term savings support to benefits plans

Many employers have started stepping up to offer additional financial support and programs to help employees save money. In fact, the number of companies offering financial wellness programs has increased to 83 percent, up over 20 percent from two years ago.

Offering supplemental financial benefits like Peanut Butter can help employees chisel away at student loans. These types of benefits are also a great way for companies to reduce financial stress (and attract new talent)

Read the rest at BenefitsPro