Employer benefits are one the most appealing aspects of a job offer and can make or break your decision to accept it. Do you maximize the benefits if you accept the job?
You could be wasting money if you don’t. In these times of high inflation, you will need to have all the money you can to offset the rising costs.
Let’s focus on what we can control and talk about employee benefits. How you might be able use them to your advantage in uncertain times.
Learn your benefits
You must know the details of your employee benefits before you can maximize them, Samantha Gorelick, a certified planner at Brunch & Budget, a financial consultancy firm based out of New York City.
“Many people don’t know how much their employer will match or offer in terms of 401ks, contributions to (a savings account or flexible spendings account) or short-term disability,” she said.
Gorelick believes knowing your access can impact your financial situation.
FYI, open enrollment is also happening for some companies. This is a great opportunity to learn more about your benefits. You have a limited time window to choose whether you want to be enrolled in benefits that you don’t need, review your plan, and cancel benefits that you no longer require. It typically takes place between October-January, depending on the company.
Consider Health savings accounts
While it may not be the most exciting task, assessing your health care options can provide financial perks.
Contributing to a HSA or FSA could be more cost-effective than a monthly premium.
FSAs and HSAs are similar to bank accounts, which allow you to cover your medical expenses out of your own pocket. Sometimes your employer may also contribute to these accounts. An HSA contribution requires that you have a high-deductible plan for your health.
Both accounts may offer employees opportunities, particularly regarding tax benefits, according to John Campbell, senior vice president at U.S Bank and senior wealth strategist.
He says that if they look at their HSA and FSA accounts, it is an opportunity to put money aside pre-tax that they can use to pay for qualified or eligible medical expenses as well as deductibles.
HSAs allow you to contribute tax-free and make qualified withdrawals from your HSA.
HSAs and FSAs differ in that the first requires that you spend the money by the end the year. HSAs allow you to roll over any money that you haven’t spent into the next year. Campbell also says that HSAs can be used to invest in the same way as a brokerage account.
He says that it is not only about getting a money market rate but also being able to use some funds for mutual fund-type investments.
Campbell says HSAs can be used to save money and invest in order to keep up with rising healthcare costs.
You should be aware that HSAs and FSAs have different contribution limits. FSA limits for individuals are $2,850 and $5,700 respectively in 2022. They can be combined with any type of health plan. Individuals who have a high-deductible plan for their health can contribute up $3,650 to HSAs. Families with high-deductible plans can contribute $7,000.
Tap into education stipends
If inflation continues to rise, there’s no telling what will happen to the job market. You can boost your resume to ensure you are in a good place regardless of how the job market turns.
You can use this benefit to study or obtain a qualification that improves your skills and your earning potential
“If you have an employer that offers tuition reimbursement, it could be a way to help you. It will free up money you may have spent on tuition out of pocket and allow you to save money or invest that money,” Campbell says.
Negotiate a raise in pay or stock options
Negotiate for a raise or stock options to improve your financial position.
Consider evaluating your performance over the year and making a case for renegotiation of your salary as you approach the end. You should consider salary reviews.
Campbell says that a pay rise can help offset inflation-related increases and preserve your purchasing power.
Calculate retirement account contributions
Every investor has a different risk tolerance, especially when the market is in decline.
You might be able to stomach the idea of increasing your retirement account contributions beyond your employer match, if you have one.
After-tax 401k contributions are an option if you have exhausted your 401k limits. In 2022, you can contribute up $61,000 after-tax dollars to your 401(k), which will allow for more tax-deferred growth.
You may feel too stressed financially to increase your contributions. That’s okay. In this case, you have two options: replenish your cash reserves, or reduce your retirement account contributions.
Gorelick says that we are currently in periods of inflation. This means that most people will choose to keep more of their money in their pockets than put it into an investment account.
This article was originally published by The Associated Press and was written by NerdWallet.