Have you ever bought a book or a DVD only to return home and find out that you already have it? It's frustrating, but at least you can return it. Now imagine spending thousands of dollars on an expense or service that you later discover your employer would have paid for. Unfortunately, many an employee makes this wallet-wrenching discovery because they never really combed through their benefits packages.
Employers offer all kinds of free or subsidized benefits to try to lure good employees to their organizations -- tuition assistance, student loan repayment, legal and financial services, counseling, daycare, adoption services and moving expenses. Some companies even offer luxuries like paid workouts and employee concierge to their workers. While the last two examples aren't exactly commonplace, you'll never know what you could bank in on unless you ask HR for a list detailing all employee benefits. Find the ones that are both valuable and useful, and take advantage of them.
Author's Note: 5 Tips for Setting Up Your Employee Benefits
I've set up employee benefits for two different jobs. The first go around I was pretty clueless and mostly just signed up for whatever the HR representative recommended. The second time I was a little more prepared, but still managed to make one little mistake. OK, it was kind of a big mistake. When I started the job, I knew that I would be incurring some pretty significant medical expenses over the coming year. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take advantage of the flexible spending account that my employer offered. If I had, I'd probably be about $500 richer than I am right now. Oh well. You live, you learn, right? I hope this article teaches you what my experience has taught me: Give your employee benefits the consideration they deserve and you can avoid making mistakes that might become costly down the road.
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