Put Your Income to Work: Finding Savings Opportunities in Your Employee Benefits Package
As economic uncertainty brews and talks of a downturn gain steam, Americans are looking for ways to make their money go further. Sometimes, the best place to start is your employee handbook. Many employers offer benefit packages with numerous opportunities for cost savings and financial planning. These options are often underutilized by employees, effectively leaving money on the table. From a Human Resources professional, here are a few common benefit programs to help you stretch your income.
Medical Provider Benefits
Take a close look at your medical package to find reimbursement programs or other inclusions. Some medical plans offer reimbursement for gym membership or weight loss programs, and some will also include a biometric screening at no cost. Vision exams or discounts are sometimes included in medical plans as well.
Additionally, many employers offer plans such as Flexible Spending Accounts and Healthcare Savings Accounts to allocate pre-tax dollars to medical expenses. On certain plans, employees can channel funds into dependent care, commuter or parking costs, and general health-related expenses to reduce taxable income.
Planning for the Future
It can be difficult to think about saving for your future when money is tight. If there is any flexibility in your finances, be sure to contribute to a 401k or similar program to set yourself up for long-term financial comfort. Many employers will match a percentage of your 401k contributions, which is a great way to grow your savings.
In the near term, consider updating your tax withholdings if you’ve been receiving a sizable tax refund. The IRS tax tables have shifted significantly over the past few years, and it’s worth reviewing your W4 selections to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your paychecks. Check out this IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to determine the right selections for your income and lifestyle.
Employee Discount Programs
With a bit of research, you might discover some employee discount programs that you could be taking advantage of. Employers often partner with discount service providers to offer savings to their employees on things such as travel, electronics, phone plans, cars, entertainment, and more. Outside of your employer, many memberships and subscriptions offer additional perks at no cost. The Wall Street Journal and Amazon Prime, for example, offer access to events, e-books, and special offers for subscribers.While the specifics of each employee benefit package will vary, it is highly likely that there are opportunities for savings and reimbursements with your organization. Review your employee handbook and consult your Human Resources team to fully understand your options and identify opportunities for savings that work with your priorities. As inflation persists and a potential recession looms, it is a great time reexamine your income options and make sure you’re getting the most out of your benefits.