Your Money, Your Future
Your Money, Your Future

Your employer benefits can save you thousands

How to maximize employer benefits

Are you making the most of your employee perks?

If you're eligible for company benefits, make sure to take full advantage of what is offered, because doing so could save you thousands of dollars a year. In addition to medical and dental plans, many companies are offering some unique perks to employees.

You just have to know where to look in order to save.

Healthy options

Health care has the biggest impact on employee satisfaction with benefits packages, according to a new study by Glassdoor Economic Research. Make the most of your employer-provided health insurance plans.

If your employer has a high deductible health care plan, contribute to the Health Savings Account or HSA that generally comes with it. You can put away up to $3,350 for individuals or $6,750 for a family each year and the money you contribute is pretax dollars.

Funds in the account can be used for health costs. Anything left over usually can be rolled over to the next year.

Another option that gives you a tax break and helps you save for health care expenses is a Flexible Spending Account or FSA. Money also goes in pretax and you can save up to $2,550 for an individual. For a family, the limit is $5,000. (One caveat: you generally can't contribute to both an HSA and FSA in the same calendar year. Another: You can't carry over unspent FSA contributions.)

Making contributions with each paycheck will not only help you budget and save, it will also lower your tax bill dollar-for-dollar.

Make that 401(k) work for you

Glassdoor found 401(k) retirement plans had the second biggest impact on worker satisfaction with benefits. Yet many employees don't take full advantage — and they are one of the best automated savings strategies you can find. And you may be leaving free money on the table.

A recent survey by Financial Engines found1 in 4 workers did not save enough to get their employer's full matching contribution — that's the "free money." Over 20 years, that adds up to more than $42,000 in lost retirement savings.

Don't make this costly mistake. Put enough money in your 401(k) each year to at least get the employer match. If you can, max out your contributions, which is $18,000 this year or $24,000 for workers age 50 and older.

More perks

Employee discounts and other perks may have a huge effect on whether you're completely satisfied with your job. You can save a bundle if you take advantage of them.

Commute to work? Check to see if your employer participates in plans that will help you save for transportation expenses including parking passes or train fares.

Also, check out your company's wellness programs, where you may be able to get a discount on gym memberships or weight management programs.

All of these "little" perks can add up to big savings over time.