If you are an employee with benefits I suggest you read your employee handbook at the next opportunity. Everyone knows how many vacation days they get a year, but there could be undiscovered perks that could save you money.
This is a benefit that certainly won’t be overlooked. You will likely be given a presentation about your options and the associated premiums for each. Employer-sponsored health care is often a good way to get a discount on health care and now due to the Affordable Care Act you are required to purchase coverage or pay a fee. One benefit I received from the Affordable Care Act was that I could be under my parent’s plan until age 26. This has saved me a bit over a thousand per year but the savings are up after my birthday.
I had no idea what a legal plan meant and had to read additional information on my benefits portal website. My company’s plan was a bit under $200 a year and provides legal services for disputes with landlords, reading legal documents, establishing a trust, and more. I enrolled in this plan last year and got all my legal services out of the way so I did not need to sign up this year. All I used it for was to create a trust. A trust protects your assets from probate which is a lengthy process completed in court. Although a will is sufficient as I could name beneficiaries to all my accounts, a home cannot have a beneficiary and therefore must be owned by individuals or a trust. I do not currently own a home but I may in the future and therefore setting up a trust was a plan for the future. In addition to a trust we also got to set up who will take care of our children should we have them and die as well as our preferences for end of life treatment. The street price for these services was $3,600, but no cost to us since we had to legal plan.
Some companies offer a sabbatical after a certain number of years of service and it may be fully paid. This would likely not be advertised but may be found in your handbook because what company would want you out for a month or several months?
My company has a policy of reimbursing manager-approved educational courses up to $7,000 a year. I have used this to take courses in Data Science to further my skills because one day I would like to move into that field. There is a downside to this policy that is common to educational reimbursement policies. For me, if I leave the company within one year of completing the course I must pay it all back, before two years I must pay 50%, and I will be free from repayment after two years.
I have a company 401K which my company puts in 3% and they will match up to 4%. This is great because if I put 4% of my salary into my 401K I am saving 10% of my salary because of the company’s contribution. A 401K allows you to save for retirement in a tax advantaged way. I will write more about that later, so for now you can google it.
My company also offers free financial advising. I am not too fond of financial advisors due to the fees they charge. Hopefully you can learn a lot from my blog and others so you can do without them, but if it truly free it may not hurt to ask their opinion of your financial situation.
Some companies will offer stock options, deferred compensation, or profit sharing. These count be really beneficial so if they are offered make sure to take your time and fully understand what you are being offered.
Flexible spending accounts and dependent care FSA
I hope you understand flexible spending accounts now, as for dependent care, its benefit to you is due to the taxes you would save on childcare. The limit for a dependent care account is $5,000.
If you work at Google you get tons of benefits. I have heard they have childcare, dry cleaning, a gym, free food, napping pods and likely more. The motivation here is probably that they want you to stay at their campus so you can work more.
Your company may offer free, discounted, or paid disability, life, travel, accidental death, and even pet insurance. I will write an article later about insurance, but it would be a good thing to consider if death or disability will cause financial ruin.
Through your employer you may be able to get discounts on items such as a gym membership, phone bill, movie tickets, Microsoft Office, and maybe other things. Ask around, you could be missing out on a deal.
It pays to know what you are being offered when you are employed. In the future if I was purchasing a home or having children I may have decided I needed a trust and had to pay thousands of dollars. However, I have already done that and do not have to pay full price in the future. Different employers have different benefits so try to take advantage of the ones you are given. I currently have educational reimbursement so I am using that, but there is no certainty that I could hold off and hope my next employer would have the same policy. As I said in the beginning, go find your employee handbook and see what you have access to.