Your job probably wants to give you more money and you just aren’t taking it! There are a lot of ways to stretch your budget out and get more out of your paycheck, if you don’t know if these items or any like them are offered at your workplace then find out, the sooner you know the sooner you can take advantage:
1. Matching Retirement Contributions – My company pays 15% into my retirement fund, no matching required, but many companies will match your contributions up to a certain point – You should always take advantage of this! Your contributions are generally taken out pretax and then matched, this is free money!
2. Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts – If you can participate in one of these plans calculate out your average expenses for doctor visits, prescriptions, glasses, often even over the counter medicine (check what your plan reimburses) and then put away a little more than that (up to a cap)- this comes out of your check pretax and you get reimbursed after you submit your EOB or receipts. This means you are NEVER taxed on this money. So figure out your tax rate and that’s how much extra money you’ll have brought home if you use all the funds in the account. Be aware that leftover funds at the end of the year may be forfeited so plan carefully.
3. Childcare Saving Accounts – These work similarly to the health accounts, except you may have to already have money in the account for you to be reimbursed. This is money that is NEVER taxed, use your tax rate to figure out how much extra cash you’ll be bringing home. Be aware that leftover funds at the end of the year may be forfeited so plan carefully.
4. Health Incentive Programs – There are many of these available, my company offers a gym membership reimbursement up to a certain dollar amount, a reduced deductible if you have a physical (or other preventative tests depending on age), steep discounts for generic drugs, and access to a Nurse Practitioner. All these things can really add up.
5. Negotiated Discounts – Your company does business with all sorts of other companies and you may be able to get in on the bulk savings. We use Verizon cell phone service and so anyone with our email address gets a discount on their cell phone if they use verizon. Check your work e-mail address with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint/Nextel, and for Alltel email your account rep. We can also get discounts on certain items because one of our sister companies is in the wholesale business, find out if you have those kinds of options from your HR department.
I’m sure there are many more available options, just make sure you take the time to find out about them and follow through!