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We all think of our jobs as where we get money, but have you ever considered the ways in which your employer could SAVE you money? Today, I am excited to share nine ways that you can save money through your job.
Discounts, Discounts, Discounts
Cell phone bill
If your mobile plan is through Verizon Wireless, AT&T, or Sprint, you may be eligible to receive a discount on your monthly bill due to your affiliation with your employer. To see if you are eligible, go to your carrier’s site and look for employer discounts. Most ask you to provide your work email address or name of employer to verify. Once you are in the program, be sure to periodically check to make sure you’re still enrolled. You may need to re-verify from time to time that you still work for the same company. I can only speak for Verizon Wireless, but discounts are generally between 15 and 18 percent! If have a family plan with other working individuals, you should check to see who can get the best discount.
Movie tickets, theme park tickets, tickets to concerts and shows…many companies offer discounts on entertainment and travel. My company buys movie tickets in bulk and lets us purchase them at cost, which is about $6 per ticket. That’s almost half of what I would pay if I bought a ticket at the movie theatre! Other companies are members of entertainment discount programs like PlumBenefits, which offer discounts on a variety of entertainment options. Your company has to be a member of the program (it’s free) but once they are you can create an account and find discounts on a variety of shows, experiences, and travel packages. If your employer doesn’t participate in a program like this, it’s definitely worth asking them to look into!
Reimbursement for Technology
Do you check your work email on your phone? Do you log into work from home to finish up a project? If you use your personal devices for work on a regular basis, ask about a reimbursement on your monthly cell phone or home internet bill. You will probably have to make the case that you use it regularly enough to warrant a discount, but if you’re checking email every night, that’s a good start.
Alternatively, see if your employer will purchase technology for your exclusive use. Let me give you an example.
My husband is a structural engineer and spent most of the summer doing inspections out at the airport. It meant leaving the house at 5:00 a.m., putting in a full day, and coming home around 5:00 p.m. Every few days, he needed to upload his pictures and notes to his company’s server. In past years, that meant an additional forty minute drive to the office, to spend a half hour or so uploading documents, and then another forty minutes back home. He was pushing five hours just in driving to and from job sites and the office. When it was just the two of us, it was annoying, but not a huge deal. Now with two little kids who are in bed by 8 o’clock, he would never see them if he maintained that schedule. So, he asked his company for a laptop and a scanner so he could skip the trip to the office and just do everything from home. And they agreed. He probably saved himself DAYS of driving to and from the office. And he got to spend time with the kids at night, which we couldn’t put a price on.
Your company may not agree to a discount or to buy hardware for you, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know!
Do you need to be in the office every day, or can you work from home? Recently, I began working from home two days a week and it is a game changer. I can get my kids to daycare an hour later and pick them up an hour earlier. I fold laundry or sweep up while I’m on conference calls.
So I’m definitely saving time, but I’m also saving money. We order pizza far less now that I can throw something in the crockpot or get dinner started earlier in the day. I ride the train to work and now that I’m riding two days less, the monthly pass no longer makes sense for me. Instead, I buy daily tickets and I’m saving $50 a month. Not a huge amount, but it definitely helps! I’m also riding the subway less so my overall commuting costs are down by nearly $100 per month! Cha-ching!
Speaking of commuting, my mom gets a sweet benefit in that her company subsidizes her bus pass. She pays a fraction of what a regular pass would cost her and her company picks up the rest. That’s a saving of hundreds of dollars per year.
You should also see if you can take advantage of commuter tax benefits. Essentially, you can get upwards of $255 per month for mass transit tickets or parking. If your commuter costs are above $255, you can deduct the rest of your expenses pre-tax, meaning you lower your taxable wages.
Live close to work and in a city that has a bike share program? More companies are offering subsidies on monthly subscriptions. See if your company does!
Licensing and Continuing Education Credits
Does your job require a license? If so, you may also need annual continuing education credits. A few fields this might apply to are education, law, and medicine. If you are required to maintain a license and need to take classes on a regular basis to maintain that license, you should definitely ask if your company will reimburse you for your education. If not, it might be time to start looking for a company that does, because these classes can get pricey! You may not be able to convince your company to fly you across the country for a training seminar, but if a license is a requirement of the job, they should definitely be helping you out.
In some other fields, you may not be required to have a license, but having one could vastly increase your job prospects. Engineering is a good example of this. Having licensed employees also helps the company, as they may be able to go after additional projects that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to if none of their employees are licensed. If this applies to you, talk to your company about paying for your license, the exam, or any study courses you might need to qualify for the license. Also, be sure to discuss license renewal fees to maintain your license.
My husband earned his professional engineer license several years ago, and he has saved thousands of dollars between the initial study course, exam, license fees, and continuing education credits.
Do you want to finish your degree, or go back for an advanced degree? See what your employer has to offer. With the price of college these days, I wouldn’t expect a full ride, but every bit helps. If they won’t pay for tuition, see if they will consider paying for fees or books. Do be sure you understand any requirements they may have for tuition assistance. For example, many companies will only offer you reimbursement after you can prove you earned a good grade. Others may require that you stay with the company for a certain amount of time after earning your degree. Just be sure you can meet their requirements before taking them up on tuition assistance.
Please, please, please, whatever you do, if your company offers a match for your retirement funds, do whatever you can to earn it. Not doing so is throwing money down the drain. The way it works is this: your employer agrees to match anything you put into your retirement account, up to a certain percentage, say 3 percent. That means as long as you put in at least 3 percent of your annual income, your employer will add the same to your savings, no charge to you. But, if you only put in 1 or 2 percent, your employer will only put in the same amount. Do whatever you can to get the full match: bring lunch to work, skip the vacation, whatever it takes. (For more frugal living tips, check out my post on how to live a frugal life). Retirement may seem a long way off, but the earlier you start saving, the better off you will be. Maybe you can even afford to retire early!
Flex Spending, Health Saving Accounts, and Dependent Care Credits
Similar to the commuter benefits I mentioned above, these are pre-tax savings. For both flex spending and health saving accounts (HSA), you agree to have a certain amount taken out of your paycheck and it’s placed in an account. You can then use this money for medical expenses not covered by insurance (co-pays, over the counter medication, etc.). This may not seem like a money-saver since it’s your own money coming out of your paycheck, but it lowers your gross take-home pay, meaning there is less to tax. There are some important differences between flex spending and HSAs in terms of contribution limits, eligibility, and rollovers. Nerdwallet has a helpful chart here and you should definitely talk with your employer/benefits manager about what they offer.
Similarly, you may also be able to set aside money pre-tax to help offset childcare expenses. Or, if you have a spouse or other dependent who relies on you for care, you may also be eligible to take advantage of this program. The provider and the dependent must meet certain requirements. This can get a bit complicated, so check out the IRS page on this topic, and talk to your HR department.
Health and Wellness Programs
More and more companies are trying to promote healthy lifestyles. It benefits their employees in terms of less sick days and a more productive workforce, but it can also help the company by lowering their health insurance costs. Companies, both big and small, are offering health and wellness programs to encourage employees to get routine check-ups, go to the gym, or stop smoking. There’s a lot of variation in these programs, but some things I’ve seen include:
- Nonsmoker affidavit: If you certify you are a nonsmoker and fill out a form, your health insurance company offers you a discount
- Gym reimbursement: Prove that you go to the gym a certain number of times (I’ve routinely seen fifty times in six months) and your health insurance company will reimburse you for a portion of your gym membership. Because I was a member of a gym with a low membership fee, I’ve actually MADE money on this deal!
- Incentive programs: Your employer sets up a series of challenges, webinars, and classes promoting a healthy lifestyle. You can earn points by participating in the program, and redeem those points for prizes. My company has a pretty sweet program and I’ve earned gift certificates to grocery stores, iTunes, and coffee shops.
- Biometric screening: You get some routine testing done (cholesterol, blood sugars, body mass index, etc.), either onsite through your employer or at your personal physician. This test can flag potential problems (e.g. high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, obesity, etc.), so you can get them addressed before they become major problems. By taking part in this screening, your employer may offer a discount on your health insurance (mine offers 10 percent!)
Talk to your HR Department!
Companies are getting more creative about offering these non-compensation benefits. Workers are increasingly looking at the whole benefits package rather than just the salary, and programs like these help companies to attract the top talent. It pays to get smart about what your employer offers and to understand your entire benefits program. Take a look at your company’s policies, and go talk to your HR department about what they provide. You could be leaving money on the table if you don’t!
I’ve discussed nine ways where your employer may be able to save you money. Did I miss anything? How has your employer helped you save money? Drop a line in the comment section below!