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Your Tesla Benefits & Career: Financial Planning for Employees and Executives

By  Brian Thorp

Disclaimer: To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

Do you work at Tesla? Get the resources you need and expert insights from financial professionals who specialize in helping Tesla employees make the most of their compensation package and benefits.

Whether you’re a new Tesla employee or you’ve moved up the ranks into a management or executive leadership role over a multi-year career, it’s important to make smart money moves with your income and employee benefits. For example:

✅ Do you know the right moves to make to get the greatest value from the Tesla benefits available to you?

✅If you’re thinking about leaving Tesla for another job or planning to retire from the company in a few years, are you taking the right steps today to ensure you will receive all of the compensation and benefits that you’ve earned?

Get the Most Value from Your Tesla Benefits and Compensation Package

Throughout the year, Tesla provides its employees and executives with updates about their benefits ranging from health insurance and health savings plans to retirement plans like a 401(k), deferred compensation plans, and stock options. While the company offers many useful resources and access to knowledgeable staff who can assist with questions, you’ll also find financial professionals not affiliated with Tesla who specialize in helping Tesla employees make the most of their income and benefits.

Whether you work with Elon in the Tesla headquarters in Austin, Texas, another office location or gigafactory around the country, or remotely from home, you may have questions about your compensation package and benefits better suited for a financial professional who can offer unbiased advice and guidance.

For example, sensitive topics like discussing the steps you should take before quitting your job at Tesla to work elsewhere, protecting yourself in advance of a corporate layoff, or deciding when you should plan to retire are all conversations that may be more comfortable with a trusted financial advisor.

Should you hire a Tesla specialist financial advisor or an advisor close to home?

You’ll likely find dozens of nearby financial advisors well-suited to help you reach your money goals with a personalized plan. But it may be more difficult to find a financial advisor who specializes in serving Tesla employees.

Fortunately, many financial advisors offer virtual services so you can meet online no matter where you (or they) live.

This means you can choose to hire a specialist financial advisor who lives hundreds of miles away if you decide their knowledge and experience working with Tesla employees is a better fit to help with your unique needs.

💡 In the Q&A below, you’ll gain insights from financial advisors who work with Tesla employees to help them make smart decisions to get the most value from their compensation and benefits, reduce their money stress, and prepare for a comfortable retirement.

🙋‍♀️ Do you have questions not yet answered? Use the form below to submit questions anonymously and watch this article for updates with answers to your questions. You can also reach out to the financial advisors below to set up an introductory call or contact them with your questions by email.


💸 Smart Money Insights for Tesla Employees & Executives

This page is organized into sections to help you quickly find the information you need and get answers to your questions:

  1. Q&A: Financial Planning Tips for Tesla Employees & Executives
  2. Get Answers to Your Questions About Your Tesla Benefits and Career
  3. Quick Facts & Resources for Tesla Employees
  4. Browse Related Articles

Q&A: Financial Planning Tips for Tesla Employees & Executives

In this section, you’ll learn how you can make the most of your Tesla employee benefits and gain valuable tips from financial advisors who specialize in working with Tesla employees and executives.

Get to Know:

✅ Jessica Goedtel | ✅ Emily Rassam and Richard Archer

Answers to Employee Questions with Jessica Goedtel, CFP®

Jessica Goedtel is a financial advisor based in Allentown, Pennsylvania who specializes in offering financial planning services to Tesla employees. Jessica helps her clients get the most value from their Tesla benefits and compensation package so they can enjoy life and feel confident about their financial future.

Q: When you first speak with a Tesla employee, what questions do you like to ask to better understand their unique circumstances and determine how you can best help them achieve their goals?

Jessica: The most important question I have for anyone working at Tesla is how you feel about the company. The answer will have an impact on your financial plan. If you’re positive, negative, or even neutral about Tesla, share it so we can discuss your options. For example, if you’re feeling neutral or even negative, you may want to steer clear of enrolling in the ESPP plan. If you’re feeling positive, we’ll want to balance how much in company stock you’ll have while still being mindful of the risks.

Next, it’s important to review the possibilities of changes in your role. There’s been upheaval recently with Tesla employees, including layoffs and changes in remote work. If you think there is a chance you’ll be affected, having an open discussion can help you better prepare even if it doesn’t come to pass.

Your financial life doesn’t begin & end with Tesla. You’re a unique person with your own goals, values, and attitudes towards money. You should feel comfortable sharing this information with your financial planner. Are you thinking of buying a house in the next few years? Is it important for you to give back to your community? Is retiring early important to you? Does managing your money bring you anxiety? Tesla is only a small part of your life, even if it might play a big part in achieving those goals.  

Q: Is there a particular benefit available to Tesla employees you feel isn’t as well utilized or understood by employees as it should be?

Jessica: One of the biggest reasons Tesla employees reach out to me is confusion about their incentive stock options (ISOs). These types of stock options require more caution and planning than Tesla RSUs (Restricted Stock Units). Stock options give you the right to buy a stock for a set price per share, usually called the exercise price (you are exercising the right to buy the shares). After that, they are yours to sell now or later – hopefully at a gain. You pay ordinary income taxes, like your wages, on the difference between the fair market value of the stock at exercise and the exercise price.

With ISOs, it’s a bit different. Hold the shares for at least two years from when they were granted and one year from when you exercise them. Then when you sell the shares, the gain is taxed at long-term capital gains rates and not ordinary income. This can mean huge tax savings, but it comes with some major risks. First, exercising and holding ISOs can trigger Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The IRS assesses a minimum tax that you’ll pay in the year of exercise even though you aren’t technically selling your shares. This tax is based on the value of the shares when you exercised them. While you can usually get this back when you sell future years in the form of an AMT credit, none of this tax will get withheld when you exercise your shares. You’ll need to have cash on hand when you go to file your taxes by April if you’ve exercised and held your ISOs.

Second, there is no guarantee that the stock will appreciate in price. For example, you exercise the right to buy 100 shares at $50 a share, and the stock is trading at $400 on the date of exercise. You plan to hold to get the special ISO tax treatment. After your two-year waiting period, the stock is only worth $200 a share. That’s more than your exercise price, but you paid AMT taxes on the higher price of $400 a share. Bad news: you paid a bunch of taxes and it may take you years to get them back.

What if the stock drops in value to less than the exercise price? You still have the same AMT problem, and you have an unrealized loss on your shares. Normally you can sell these and use capital losses to offset other capital gains plus up to $3,000 off your income. But if you are receiving RSUs or if you participate in the ESPP program, this gets complicated due to wash sales. Wash sale rules disallow losses if you replace shares within 30 days before or after selling your stock for a loss. This includes both your ESPP purchases every six months and vesting RSUs. This gets even more complicated when you layer in your blackout periods. You may find yourself with a very limited window to offload your shares that are at a loss.

Long story short, if you’ve got TSLA ISOs, consider talking to a financial professional who understands taxes on equity compensation. Tax planning can help determine any AMT taxes you might owe, avoid triggering wash sale rules and assist you in making any decisions.

Q: For Tesla employees thinking about leaving the company to accept a job elsewhere, what actions do you recommend they take before resigning and shortly thereafter?

Jessica: Read your stock plan award agreement! Under the 2019 Equity Incentive Plan Agreement, any unvested RSUs and stock options are forfeited when you leave. If you have any vested but unexercised stock options, you may have a limited window to exercise. Tesla’s 401k match is subject to a one-year vesting period. If you leave before your first year, you’ll walk away from any funds that Tesla has put in your 401k. Note: your own contributions you get to keep. You may still want to leave regardless, but better to know before you go what you are leaving on the table. 

Q: What are some of the unique financial planning challenges you commonly see among your clients who are Tesla employees and how do you help them overcome these obstacles?

Jessica: Anyone who’s watched Tesla stock for more than a week knows that it’s volatile. Large swings are frequent. For Tesla employees reading this, if you believe in the long-term viability of the company you probably aren’t too worried. But as your stock grants continue to vest, your exposure to Tesla gets higher and higher. If bad news were to hit the company, your job and a large chunk of your net worth could be on the line.

You can help mitigate this by having a strategy in place to reduce your stock exposure to Tesla. Consider having a broader target price range going into your trading window in case of volatility. Make a plan for how many shares you want to trade, including which lots (if it’s vested RSUs) or grants if you are exercising. Write your plan down in advance and stick to it when the time comes. It’s almost impossible to make the perfect trade, and a plan can help you from second-guessing.

Q: When given the option, should Tesla employees choose stock options or RSUs?

Jessica: Usually, when you get hired or get promoted at Tesla, you have the ability to choose between options or RSUs (or a mixture of both). With options, you receive 3x the number of shares than RSUs. However, as noted above, options create a lot more challenges. Triple the shares sounds great, but there’s always the risk that the shares never go higher than the exercise price – making them worthless. If you’re confident the stock will continue to go up and you’ve got cash set aside to pay AMT taxes, this might be a good option for you.

RSUs can keep things simple – shares vest on a set schedule, and on each vest date you will receive your Tesla shares. Some shares will be withheld for taxes if you elect that option, but the rest are either yours to hold or sell. Choosing to receive RSUs and selling them as they vest can be a great option if you don’t want any more Tesla risk, or prefer knowing you’ll get at least some money. 

Get to Know Jessica Goedtel, Financial Advisor for Tesla Employees:

View Jessica’s profile page on Wealthtender or visit her website to learn more.


Answers to Tesla Employee Questions with Emily Rassam and Richard Archer (Archer Investment Management)

With a focus on serving professionals in the technology industry, the financial advisors at Archer Investment Management help their clients get the most value from their benefits and compensation package so they can enjoy life and feel confident about their financial future. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas, respectively, Emily Rassam and Richard Archer specialize in offering financial planning services to Tesla employees.

Q: As a financial advisor with experience helping TESLA employees save for retirement, how do you help them make the most of their employee benefits?

Emily: At Archer Investment Management, we specialize in working with mid-career technology professionals. We have several TESLA employees as clients and are familiar with the company’s employee benefit plans, retirement plans, equity compensation packages, and ancillary benefits.

More importantly, we are acutely aware of the financial planning needs of technology professionals and how their TESLA benefits fit into an overall financial plan, including long-term planning, goal setting, tax planning, and estate planning. We start by building a financial personality profile and risk tolerance assessment to understand your relationship with money and your comfort level with risk.

Q: When you first speak with a TESLA employee, what questions do you like to ask to better understand their unique circumstances and determine how you can best help them achieve their goals?

Richard: Our detailed onboarding process includes conversations about your life goals, how your finances play a role in maximizing happiness, and what it means to be intentional with money. We gather information about your benefits and compensation package, spending plan, short-term and long-term goals, taxes, estate plans, and insurance.

This detailed planning process allows us to build a comprehensive picture of your financial life and how each piece of the puzzle fits together. You cannot make recommendations without examining the whole picture.

Q: Is there a particular benefit available to TESLA Technologies employees you feel isn’t as well utilized or understood by employees as it should be?

Richard: Many of the TESLA health care plans are high-deductible health care plans (HDHPs) that allow you to save in a Health Savings Account (H.S.A.). An H.S.A. is a very powerful savings vehicle that can be triple-tax-free and allows you to build long-term savings for future health care costs.

In 2023, a single individual can save up to $3,850 in an H.S.A. and a married couple can save $7,750. For TESLA employees over age 50, you may save an additional $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. Once your H.S.A. reaches a minimum balance threshold, you can then invest the assets in a brokerage account. This is an underutilized benefit we regularly advise our TESLA clients to maximize and build over time. It’s often advantageous to avoid tapping your H.S.A. for health care costs so that you can allow the H.S.A investment account to compound over time; If you have the means, paying out-of-pocket for health care expenses can be a savvy tax move.

Q: Beyond the TESLA employee benefits for retirement savings, are there other types of benefits offered by the company that you find valuable to discuss with your clients (e.g., stock, education savings, health savings)?

EmilyVirtually all employees are eligible to join the employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) through E*TRADE. So long as you are scheduled to work for more than 5 months[MZ1]  for TESLA, are employed at the beginning and end of the offer period, and work 20 hours or more per week, you may join the plan at the start of the next offer period.

This plan allows you to purchase TESLA stock at a discount and build additional wealth beyond the 401(k) plan by saving up to 15% of your pay into the ESPP plan. Each year, the offer period typically opens on August 1st for the September 1 – February 28 purchase period and you may make elections throughout the month of February for the purchase period of March 1 – August 31. As mentioned earlier, you can also invest your H.S.A. money like you would a retirement account.

Get to Know Emily Rassam, Financial Advisor for Tesla Employees:

View Emily’s profile page on Wealthtender or visit her website to learn more.

Q: For TESLA employees thinking about leaving the company to accept a job elsewhere, what actions do you recommend they take before resigning and shortly thereafter?

Emily: Your matched 401(k) dollars vest at 25% each year over four years. If you have not yet met four years of service, you may want to review the employer dollars you are leaving on the table. You may have received employee stock options or restricted stock units (RSUs) that are unvested. Look carefully at the dates on your grants and vesting schedules to determine when each RSU grant vests; this may impact your timing to leave TESLA. You have 90 days after departing the company to exercise your stock options. Work with an advisor to determine which grants to exercise and the best way to fund this purchase.

Q: For TESLA employees approaching retirement age, how do you recommend they prepare to make the transition from living off their salary to relying upon other sources of income?

Richard: Our detailed retirement planning process includes:

·       A spending strategy tailored to your income goals

·       Social Security timing recommendations

·       Coordination of health care benefits

·       Discussion around how your spending will change throughout retirement

·       Stress-testing your retirement projection with many what-if scenarios

·       Timing your exit to maximize any unvested incentive stock options (ISOs), non-qualified stock options (NSOs), or RSUs

Q: For TESLA employees who have managed their finances on their own to this point, what would you suggest they consider to help them decide if they should begin working with a financial advisor at this stage in their lives?

Emily: There are many online tools and calculators. Where we find TESLA employees get stuck is understanding how to prioritize goals and seeing the big picture. We help TESLA employees organize their financial lives and provide accountability for reaching goals.

Understanding whether you should use surplus dollars to pay down debt, save towards a short-term goal, or work towards a long-term aspiration (such as retirement or college education savings) can be challenging. For TESLA employees planning with a spouse or partner, an advisor helps facilitate difficult conversations and moves the ball forward in your planning process.

Q: What are some of the unique financial planning challenges you commonly see among your clients who are TESLA employees and how do you help them overcome these obstacles?

Richard: One common obstacle we find is knowing when to diversify away from the concentration risk of holding a high percentage of your net worth in one company’s shares. Many of our TESLA employee clients struggle with selling positions; it requires coaching, recognizing natural human biases, an evaluation of the risks, and careful diversification away from an outsized position.

Get to Know Richard Archer, Financial Advisor for Tesla Employees:

View Richard’s profile page on Wealthtender or visit his website to learn more.

Q: What questions do you recommend TESLA employees ask financial advisors they’re considering hiring to help them decide if the relationship would be a good fit?

Richard: If you were granted ISOs or RSUs, be sure to work with an advisor who understands how to incorporate those into your overall picture. Seek an advisor who can model the alternative minimum tax (AMT), understands the rules around qualifying and disqualifying dispositions, and knows how and when to diversify away from sizeable single stock positions, if appropriate.

Q: Is there anything that comes up frequently in your initial meeting with TESLA employees that surprises you?

Richard: We enjoy finding opportunities to help TESLA employees maximize their ESPP plans, H.S.A. plans, and understand their non-traditional benefits such as tuition reimbursement, legal services, vision insurance refunds, fitness benefits, and generous life insurance benefits.

Q: For highly compensated TESLA employees and executives, are there any special benefits you believe are important to take into consideration when preparing their financial plan?

Emily: Highly compensated employees at TESLA are more likely to have been awarded stock options and/or RSUs. It’s important to evaluate your equity compensation as part of your overall offer for employment and understand how they fit into your multi-year financial plan.

Q: Is there a particularly memorable experience or a moment you recall with a client who worked at TESLA when you realized they have unique opportunities and circumstances when it comes to their financial planning needs?

Emily: In recent meetings with a TESLA employee, we modeled multiple stock option exercise strategies to reduce lifetime AMT. In some cases, it makes sense to exercise options slowly over many years. In this case, it made the most sense to exercise all vested options within three years. We determined which vested RSU shares we could sell to help fund the cost of exercising those shares.

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Quick Facts & Resources for Tesla Employees

Tesla Quick Facts & ResourcesDetails / Useful Links
Tesla Corporate Headquarters Address1 Tesla Road Austin, TX 78725 (📍 Google Maps)
How much do Tesla employees Make?View Tesla Salary Research on Glassdoor
Where can I learn more about careers at Tesla?Visit tesla.com/careers
How many people work for Tesla?Tesla has around 100,000 employees worldwide (Source: Teslarati)
What is the ticker symbol for Tesla stock?The Tesla ticker symbol is TSLA.


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About the Author
Brian Thorp, Founder and CEO of Wealthtender profile picture

Brian Thorp

Founder and CEO, Wealthtender

Brian and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.

With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn

Disclaimer: To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.