In my last article we talked about getting the most out of your primary employer. The majority of us are working jobs we’d rather not be working for a company we’d rather not be working for. Me? I actually love my job and my company. But I would say the average worker doesn’t feel a strong bond with their employer.
I think one of the reasons we’re frustrated with our employer is because we don’t understand all of the benefits they give us. Did you know I get a 26% discount off of my Verizon bill every month? Check with your employer – maybe you do too.
Imagine seeing a friend of yours every single day. Each day when you bump into one another, they give you a few coins. Same thing, every day. One coin after another.
Some days you get a penny, other days you get a nickel, and when you’re lucky you get a quarter. Unless you’re standing right beside a gumball machine when you receive the quarter, you see the change given to you as a nuisance. Who wants to lug around all this metal? Who wants their leg to sound like a maraca when they walk?
Maybe not the best analogy, but what I’m getting at is important. It’s estimated that 20-30% of your compensation for employment is paid to you through benefits, not through your standard paycheck. The problem is that most employees are not maximizing the benefits being offered.
The moral of my terrible story is this…if someone is willing to give you free money, you take it!
With that said, here are my 3 favorite benefits you need to be taking advantage of:
This SEEMS like an obvious one but too many people leave money sitting on the table. Many years ago companies would offer a defined benefit plan in order to assist their employee’s through their retirement years. After you worked for a company for ‘x’ number of years, you would receive a percentage of your salary plus the number of years you worked there times another multiplier. This would allow for a comfortable retirement. There was no effort required on the part of the employee.
Unfortunately, most pensions have deceased along with those that collected them.
Now most employers have switched to defined contribution plans. Now there is a lot more effort required by the employee; but with that effort comes control. Now an employee and manage their portfolio according to their risk tolerance and specific goals. Also, these contribution plans are much more portable than the prior pensions.
Employee Stock Purchase Plan
Every employer wants their employees to be invested in the company. Whether it’s mentally feeling a part of the team or literally having ownership in the company, it’s all the same. As an incentive, most companies will offer an easy way for each employee to purchase company stock. While I never advise directly in individual stocks, employers are offering discounts or will match a portion of what you invest.
Flexible Spending Account
I wish Tupac and Biggie would’ve spent more of their time on Earth rapping about flexible spending accounts. These things are straight up gangster.
Think about all the medical expenses you may have over the next year. Maybe even costs such as dependent care or parking. Wouldn’t you rather pay for these things with pre-tax dollars rather than giving the government around 25-28%?
I didn’t want to get too specific with each of the above just yet. Each benefit deserves its own post (or several).
Readers: Aside from health insurance, what benefits to you take advantage of?
This post was written by A. Blinkin.