While some individuals fantasize about working for themselves, others recognize working for a company can have its advantages too. Take, for instance, your employee benefits package.
Access to healthcare, dental, 401ks, life and disability insurance and discounts to gyms. Employee benefits can add as much as 30 percent to the value of your salary. The question is, “Are you maximizing your employee benefits?”
Even if your open enrollment period has passed, here are a few simple steps to take this year to get the most mileage out of your employee benefits plan.
Save enough to get the match.
Most employer plans provide free contributions to a set amount on your behalf each year – typically three percent to six percent of your salary – but to qualify, you need to make your own corresponding contributions. Even if the finances feel tight in your home, take advantage of the 401k match. Walking away from the employer matching program is like turning down a raise, and who is going to do that?
Don’t overlook your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
EAPs, which are usually part of a corporate health-care plan, can assist employees with a plethora of emotional and practical conundrums—from marriage counseling to finding a new general practitioner to talking through a stressful situation at work or home. These services are not only free, but also strictly confidential. If you had to pay for some of these same services out-of-pocket, you could easily spend hundreds of dollars. So if your company offers an EAP, keep it in mind as a first stop in working through a problem.
Find the discounts.
Companies recognize healthy employees take fewer sick days and perform at optimum levels. As such, more and more businesses are offering discounts to gyms, subsidizing yoga classes and paying for fitness trackers. In fact, some companies bring the fitness to you, offering on-site gyms, fitness classes and massage services. Beyond fitness, other organizations offer discounted movie and theme park tickets, options to save on personal laptops and more. Dig in and see what your company offers. Every saved dollar counts.
Enroll in disability insurance.
Disability insurance coverage provides income protection, up to 70% of your salary, if you are not able to work. You typically get a chance to enroll in this coverage when you start working for a company.
If you are young and healthy, you might wonder why you would need it. But you never know what might happen, and it’s a good idea to be protected.
Maximize benefits with your spouse’s plan.
If you and your spouse both have insurance benefits, examine each plan closely and decide if scaling back on one is in order—it could save you some unnecessary expenses. Then again, it might pay to have dual insurance if you have some big dental or medical work planned. You need to run the numbers on premiums and deductibles, but the research and advanced planning can sometimes save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Bottom line is that it pays to think beyond your salary. The multitude of company benefits vary by organization – and often change from year to year – so review them on annual basis and discover how you can save and spend wisely.
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