If you have a decent job you probably have some benefits you are not taking advantage of or maybe not even aware of. This article will show you 5 ways to maximize employer benefits. There may be many ways you are leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of benefits that you employer is offering.
A 401(k) is an employee sponsored retirement account. Many companies match your contributions at one level or another which means you may be leaving money on the table if you are not using this plan. Find out what your company does for a match and at least contribute the maximum amount they match.
For example if your company matches 100% up to 4% of your salary like mine does then you should at least contribute 4% of your salary because you are doubling your money. If the company match is 50% up to 4% you should still contribute 4% because a 50% return on your money is still better than most you will get on the market and more than you are paying on any debt you have, unless you are into Frankie the Shark for some money in which case you should pay him first.
A Flex Spending Account allows you to set aside up to $2500 pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses in a given year. That means you subtract up to $2500 from the money you are paying taxes on. Keep in mind you can only roll over $500 dollars of that money the rest is use it or lose it; And the Affordable Care Act eliminated the ability to use an FSA to pay for over the counter products to soak up any extra you would have at the end of the year so be careful.
Think about any prescriptions you have or glasses you may need as well as any co-pay you may have to determine how much you may need and aim low because if you don’t use it all it goes back to your employer.
These accounts are very similar to the FSA but The dependent care account reimburses dependent day care expenses necessary while you (and your spouse, if you’re married) are attending school on a full-time basis or working. Typically, these would be day care expenses for children, but you can also use this account to reimburse day care for other dependents, such as spouses, parents, or grandparents, who cannot care for themselves. Your dependent must live in your home at least eight hours a day.
There are a lot of technicalities on this one so make sure you understand the detail of how it works. For example I put money into pay for preschool but could not pay for the whole year (as I thought) because the period spanned over two calendar years and I was only able to pay for the calendar year I was in.
Many companies offer tuition reimbursement of some kind if you wish to get a degree or further your education. Many require it to be in the field you are working in and some require you to work for the company for a number of years after you last take the reimbursement but you can often pay the money back.
Many professional companies have training budgets. Our managers tell us that it often goes unused because no one takes advantage of it. If your field offers certifications the company may pay for the training or it may pay for the testing required for the certification.
There may be other ways you can maximize employer benefits; it it all depends on what your company has to offer. Take a look and ask around. Often there are benefits that are almost secrets in companies.
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