Cash in on Valuable Benefits

Employees tend to think of benefits as things they get from their employers to make life more affordable. Health benefits lower the cost of healthcare. Dental coverage makes a trip to the dentist less (financially) painful. Paid vacation allows us to take time off without losing pay. And, so forth. However, employers offer a number of benefits that can actually add to an employee’s finances. Unfortunately, a lot of workers fail to take full advantage of these valuable benefits. With the following, we hope to help you recognize the most common benefits that could help your personal bottom line, and to offer tips on making the most of them.

Retirement plans. Just about every employer offers some kind of retirement plan, and it certainly is in your best interest to set aside money for the future. But, many employers augment those plans by matching your investment up to a certain level. For example, an employer might match half of an employee’s plan investment up to $3,000. So, if that employee fails to invest in the plan, he or she is giving up an extra $1,500 each year. Over time, the repeating match and compounding impact could mean an earlier retirement or easier golden years.

Flexible Spending Accounts. These tax-advantaged accounts not only allow you to save money for things like out-of-pocket medical expenses, childcare costs, transportation and more, they deliver a “triple tax advantage” by allowing you to deduct funds from your pay on a pre-tax basis, earn tax-free interest and withdraw the money tax-free for use as intended.

Tuition reimbursement. Employer tuition reimbursement offers long-term financial benefit in two ways: One, it pays you back for your personal education costs and two, it helps you increase your earning potential.

Stock purchase plans. You might never consider yourself a potential stockholder or part owner of the company you work for, but a lot of employers offer employees fee-free opportunities to purchase stock through payroll deduction. Obviously, the shares will only add to your bottom line if the company increases in value, but if you plan to be with your employer for a long time, these opportunities can truly pay off in the long run.

Employee Assistance Programs. Possibly the most underutilized part of any benefits program, Employee Assistance Programs offer a wide range of free services that employees might otherwise be paying for, including financial services, career resources, counseling, stress management and more. By taking advantage of these free services, you can keep your money where you want it … in your pocket.

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