How much do you make and are you factoring in your perks at work?
Don't worry, you don't actually have to answer that, but do consider it—how much do you really make at your job? If your answer consists of just the number that's written on your check or deposited into your account every two weeks, you may not be looking at the whole picture of your compensation.
What does that mean?
There are lots of little ways to maximize your total compensation, from employee discounts you may be overlooking to that sweet, sweet 401(k) match. Here, I've rounded up a few of the best ways to ensure you're making the most of your employer's compensation package—after all, it's not just about your salary!
Many employers now offer discounts on a variety of products and services that employees can take advantage of. If yours does, it's time to celebrate! These sweet deals can save you a pretty penny, and they're yours for the taking. All it takes is a few minutes to scroll through the deals and find the ones that work for you.
Of course, it's all about employee retention; once you leave the company, you lose the discounts. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take advantage of any that might be offered to you while you're with the company.
Popular discounts range from mobile phone plans and gym memberships to subsidized food at the on-site cafeteria. And if you really want to make these savings count, figure out what you'd pay without the discount, then direct the difference right to your savings account!
Retirement Plan Contribution Increases
Does your company offer a retirement plan like a 401(k) or similar? If so, you can opt for automatic contribution increases on a pre-determined schedule. By doing this, you can set your contributions to increase by a percentage increment on an annual basis. Shoot for a 1% increase each year.
This is an easy way to avoid lifestyle creep from eating into your savings. With an automatic contribution increase in place, as your income increases, your retirement contributions will, too.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Flexible spending accounts are those that allow you to spend pre-tax dollars on qualified medical and childcare expenses. When you sort through all that onboarding paperwork on your first day at work, you'll have the option to allocate a monthly dollar amount into this type of account.
Definitely take advantage, because not only does this reduce your taxable income, it also ensures you won't have to use your regular income to pay for annoying medical expenses like doctor co-pays, glasses, and band-aids. You’ll be able to keep more money in your pocket by reducing your taxable income through routine spending with these accounts.
Most employers that offer direct deposit give you the option to split your paycheck and send it to separate bank accounts. How does this help, you ask? Well, directing a portion of your paycheck to a savings account each time you get paid will take the effort out of consistently putting money aside.
Still trying to hone those saving chops and get better at managing your finances? Doing this is a great way to force yourself into saving, which can be a huge help in the long run.
If you qualify, claim the saver's credit on your taxes using Form 8880 when you file your tax return. Doing this allows you to get a special tax credit for the first $2,000 you contribute to a retirement account throughout the tax year. Yes, really! As if you needed any more reasons to save money! Just be sure to check the income and filing guidelines first.
Negotiate a Raise
We've talked a lot about how to make use of those little extras at work. Now, let's examine that first number we talked about above. That's right, your actual salary. While most companies are good about having an annual performance review in place, some aren't. And if you work for one that isn't, you'll have to be laser-focused on your compensation package to ensure you're being fairly compensated for the work you're doing.
First, start with a salary comparison tool, like the one offered by Glassdoor.com. Then, consider other factors, like whether you've taken on someone else's tasks, how many hours you're (really!) working, and whether you're managing or training another employee.
And remember, you never need to be afraid that you'll anger or offend your boss by asking for a raise; good companies know the importance of keeping their employees happy, and that rightly involves fair compensation. Read more about negotiating a raise.
Use these tips to make sure you are maximizing your earnings and workplace benefits to the fullest!