This is part of a series of posts on 10 Important Financial Lessons To Learn While You’re Young. A new lesson will go up every Friday. And if finances bore you, don’t worry…I’ll keep posting non-finance things on Mondays!
I love my job, and I’m finding that our company benefits are pretty awesome! Remember the previous lessons about getting health insurance and saving for retirement? Well company benefits can really help out and make those things a lot easier.
Benefits are basically non-wage extras that a company can offer you (on top of your normal wages or salary) to help you out. They can include pretty much anything, but usually they are things like insurance, retirement benefits, tuition reimbursement, paid time off, etc.
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers you benefits, you need to take advantage of them! Here is some basic info on a few of the most common benefits:
- Group Insurance: This can be any type of insurance (health, dental, disability, vision, life, long-term care, etc. We’ve got one at my company called “Accidental Death or Dismemberment” insurance!) Usually the insurance will be offered at a discounted rate, and your company will pay a portion of your monthly premiums, discounting the cost to you even further! Health insurance is the big one, but you should look into all of them and see what’s offered. My company automatically enrolls me in life insurance up to 1.5x my salary, at no cost to me! Read Lesson 6 – Health Insurance for more info on health insurance.
- Retirement: Again, there are lots of options here for employer-sponsored retirement benefits, like a pension, a 401(k), or 403(b). Basically the company provides a retirement account of some sort that you can contribute to (usually pre-tax, which makes the benefit even better!) And if you’re lucky, the company may even match your contributions up to a certain limit. If your company matches your contributions, you should contribute at least as much as they’re willing to match. If you don’t, you’re just leaving free money on the table! Read Lesson 7 – Retirement for more info on saving for retirement.
- Housing: Some employees are offered housing that is completely or partly covered by their employers (think Air Force, if you live on-base). Or sometimes, if you’re required to move for your job, your company will help you out with expenses related to house hunting and moving.
- Sick Leave/Paid Time Off: This is my favorite benefit! Many companies offer you a certain number of days a year as paid vacation, meaning you get paid to sit around watching X-Files and drinking Apple-tinis! They can also offer sick leave (paid or unpaid) or unpaid vacation. Basically it boils down to this: they will either pay you to not work, or they will allow you to take some company-sanctioned time off without having to worry that you’ll lose your job. Maternity or paternity leave is usually counted in here too.
- Tuition Reimbursement: One very cool thing some companies do is offer to reimburse you for tuition expenses. They like employees with advanced degrees or certifications in their field, so sometimes they are willing to give you a bit of financial incentive to go back to school. The amount can vary but there are companies out there that will pay for your entire MBA…crazy!
- Profit Sharing: This is usually means stock options. The company can provide you with stock in the company as part of your benefits package in an effort to keep you invested in the continued success of your company. Literally.
- Flexible Work Options: This is my second favorite benefit. “Flexible Work Options” usually means things like telecommuting, working remote, shortened work weeks, etc. It’s not really a “financial” benefit, but if your company offers this it’s pretty awesome. Some companies will set you up with a computer, telephone, and internet in your home office if you will be working remotely. I telecommute (meaning, I work from home) one day a week, and I love it!
There are tons of other benefits besides the ones listed above. Companies can offer daycare for your kids, discounts on cell phone plans or computers, pet insurance, legal help and advice, and a multitude of other things. Get in touch with your HR department and find out exactly what your options are, and once you know what’s available to you, take advantage of it!
Have you taken advantage of any awesome benefits? What are your favorites?