Make the Most of Employee Benefits
When evaluating a potential job opportunity, many people focus on obvious benefits - medical, dental, and vision coverage. But some companies may offer lesser-known benefits which could make a difference in your work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.
Even those who have been with a company for some time may not be aware of all the benefits available to them. Let's review some of the benefits that your potential or current employer may offer that you might be overlooking.
Education Benefits and Tuition Assistance
It's becoming increasingly common for companies to invest in their employees' professional development by providing access to academic programs, professional certifications, and undergraduate and graduate degrees. These programs can be fully funded and are often designed specifically for working adults, providing flexibility and convenience for those with busy schedules.
By taking advantage of these opportunities, employees can develop new skills, deepen their expertise, and unlock new opportunities within their current company or in their future careers. Research the educational benefits that your employer offers and take advantage of these opportunities to stay competitive in the rapidly changing job market.
Health and Wellness
Many companies offer wellness programs that incentivize employees to prioritize their health by participating in various activities. These activities aim to provide employees with helpful information about their health, including areas where they are doing well, potential issues to discuss with their doctor, and recommendations for improving their overall well-being through lifestyle changes such as weight loss, increasing physical activity, quitting tobacco use, and stress management. Employers may also offer financial assistance in certain circumstances by covering or reimbursing health-related expenses.
Wellness Programs and Wellness Rewards
Wellness programs can provide financial rewards for employees and their spouses as contributions to their Medical Reimbursement Accounts (MRAs) or other rewards. The wellness activities may include assessments, questionnaires, coaching programs, and screenings for various health indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and body mass index (BMI).
By participating in these wellness programs, employees can take a proactive approach to their health and well-being while earning financial rewards.
Tobacco Cessation Programs
Some employers often offer tobacco cessation programs to their employees and their families. These programs aim to help people quit tobacco use and make positive lifestyle changes that support their overall well-being. Tobacco cessation programs may include coaching support, nicotine replacement therapies, quit guides, and consultations with coaches, all provided at no cost to the employee.
Many programs offer information on quitting tobacco, such as cravings and weight management, and provide online tools and resources for monitoring progress. In addition to improving health outcomes, quitting tobacco can save individuals money on healthcare costs and may lead to lower insurance premiums.
Fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) can be incredibly expensive and unaffordable for many people. However, some employers offer fertility benefits as part of their benefits package. These programs may cover or reimburse fertility-related expenses up to a certain amount for employees and their covered dependents.
Fertility benefits can provide peace of mind and financial relief for those struggling with infertility or other fertility-related issues. If you or someone you know is considering fertility treatments, it's worth checking to see if your employer offers fertility benefits.
Spending accounts allow you to set aside a portion of your pre-tax salary to pay for eligible expenses. The most common types of spending accounts are Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Dependent Care Spending Accounts (DCSA), and Transportation Spending Accounts (TSA). Spending accounts can help you save on eligible expenses by reducing your taxable income. Each type of spending account has its unique features, eligibility requirements, and contribution limits. Let's review some of them.
Related: Health Savings Account (HSA): Become Financially Healthier
Transportation Spending Accounts
Most of us have ongoing commuting costs to work. There is a way to save money on these expenses through a Transportation Spending Account. This type of account allows you to pay for eligible transportation and parking expenses related to commuting to work with pre-tax payroll deductions. By enrolling in a Transportation Spending Account, you can contribute pre-tax dollars every month from your payroll each pay period and use the money to pay for your eligible monthly tickets and parking expenses. Transportation Spending Accounts can save hundreds of dollars on your commute, especially for those with high commute costs and a high tax bracket.
Although Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Although Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are not only available through employers and you can set up your own HSA account, it is easy to overlook the employer perk of contributing to health accounts on your behalf. An HSA is a savings account that helps pay for qualified medical expenses.
It's also a remarkable saving tool with several tax advantages. Unlike bonuses and some other employer contributions, the money that goes into your HSA is not taxed. Whether your employer contributes or you decide to invest, the money in the account grows tax-free, and withdrawals for eligible healthcare expenses are also tax-free. The average contribution by employers ranges from $500 to $1,500. You don't want to miss this completely free money.
Dependent Care Spending Accounts (DCSA)
Raising children is a joy, but it can also be expensive. If you have ongoing care expenses for your children under age 13 or tax-reported adult dependents, you may want to consider enrolling in a Dependent Care Spending Account. This type of account allows you to contribute up to $5,000 per year before taxes, which can result in considerable tax savings by reducing your taxable income. Check with your employer to see if this option is available to you.
Life and Accident Insurance
You may automatically receive basic life insurance at no cost when you work for a company. This coverage will pay benefits to your designated beneficiaries if you pass away while actively employed. Additionally, some employers also offer business travel accident insurance that provides benefits if you die or are injured while traveling on business.
While these benefits are automatic, you may also have the option to elect supplemental coverage on an after-tax basis. The additional coverage allows you to choose different types of life and accident insurance and select the most appropriate coverage for your personal situation. By getting insurance through your employer, you may be able to save money and have better coverage than if you were to purchase it on your own. Be sure to check with your employer to learn more about the insurance options available to you.
Employee Stock Purchase Plans
One additional benefit that companies may offer is the opportunity to participate in employee stock purchase plans. These plans allow employees to purchase the company's stock at a significant discount without paying a broker's fee. The discount may range from 5% to 15% off the market price of the stock, which can be a great way to invest in your employer's success.
Companies often partner with various service providers to offer their employees discounted rates on everything from wireless services, travel, auto rentals, insurance, fitness, entertainment, and even employee financial services. These discounts can add up to significant savings, especially for services that employees use frequently. By taking advantage of these discounts, employees can stretch their dollars further and enjoy the same services and products at a reduced cost. Ask if your company offers any employee discounts.
Be proactive and ensure you are taking advantage of everything available to you. Even if you have been with the company for a long time, you may have overlooked some benefits, new benefits may have been added, or your circumstances have changed, and the benefits that weren't important to you before may now be valuable.
Review your employee benefits periodically and check with your human resources department to ensure that you are taking advantage of all available benefits that can help you save money, improve your well-being, and support your personal and professional growth.