Like most people, you’re probably meticulously keeping track of and leveraging your allotted vacation-, sick- and personal days. But if you’re working for a corporation with a robust benefits package, there are likely myriad extras you are not taking advantage of. From extra insurance to paternity leave, the following nine perks may be missed opportunities to save money or time if you don’t know about or use them.
1. Health and Wellness Programs More and more companies are incentivizing employees to live a healthy lifestyle for good reason—a fit and well employee takes less sick days and is more productive and happy! Who cares if their incentive is selfish! If your company offers discounted gym membership or hundreds of annual dollars in reimbursements for gym membership or athletic gear or equipment, that’s money in your pocket for something you’d probably spend your own cash on anyway.
2. Flexible Spending Accounts With the skyrocketing costs of healthcare, you’d be a fool not to leverage a medical flex spending account if it’s offered through your employer. This program subtracts and saves your pre-tax dollars from your paycheck to go toward any medical expenses over the course of the year—including prescriptions and some over-the-counter goods. That means rather than paying for medical services and products with money you’ve been taxed on, you get to use money that is not taxed at all! The trick is to specify an amount that’s not too big since the dollars set aside do not rollover to the next year. Such pre-tax-dollar spending accounts are also often available for childcare.
3. Retirement Fund Matching If your company offers retirement fund matching, you should leverage it as much as you can—even if you are barely making enough money to get by. Why? Because they are literally giving you extra money. While you can’t touch the funds until you’re retirement age, you’ll have to set aside less of your own money if you let your company fill your proverbial coffer for you!
4. Financial Planning Services Some companies, such as IBM, offer access to a financial planner who helps employees set a monthly budget, monitor and maximize their retirement account, and more. Along with the benefit of better managing their money, they’re saving out-of-pocket expenses, too. Such advice usually cost well upward of $100 per hour.
5. Paid Leaves of Absence Life happens, and some companies are prepared for when it does and gets in the way of your workday—without docking your pay. Expected paid leaves include short-term and long-term disability, which usually cover a percentage of your salary, jury duty, and maternity leave. But did you know some corporations also cover paternity, educational, death-in-the-family, parent-teacher-conference, and volunteer-work leaves? Read the fine print in your company manual and you may be able to save yourself from using vacation or sick days to cover necessities.
6. Extra Insurance When you first got your job and had to plow through the mammoth stack of new-hire documents, you may have overlooked the opportunity to elect for disability insurance or life insurance at a reasonable cost. But if they’re offered, it’s a good idea to think about your situation and whether you might need them. After all, these types of insurance become true lifesavers the minute you actually need to turn to them.
7. Telecommuting More and more companies are allowing employees to work from home, whether due to a long commute, a short-term illness or injury, or just plain desire. While it may not be broadcast throughout the company, if working remotely appeals to you, it’s worth investigating.
8. Childcare Subsidies Some businesses are sensitive to the fact that in order for parents to be at work, someone else has to take care of their children—usually at a steep rate. That’s why many companies offer childcare subsidies, which offsets the out-of-pocket expenses for childcare.
9. Education Assistance Programs If you’re interested in advancing your knowledge or skill set and work for a company that supports continued education, you may have access to a program that not only covers the expenses associated with attending a school or workshop, but also allows you to do so during work hours.