There are plenty of workplace benefits beyond a 401(k)-retirement savings plan. Read ahead to learn about seven more exciting benefits your workplace might be offering and how you can use them to your advantage.
1. A Flexible Spending Account
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is an employer-sponsored healthcare benefit that allows employees to set aside funds for qualified medical expenses. FSA contributions are deducted from your payroll and moved into this specialized account. You can use the funds for your personal medical expenses, along with medical expenses for your spouse and dependents.
These are examples of medical expenses you can use an FSA for:
- Over-the-counter medicine
- Prescription medicines
- Prescription eyeglasses
- Contact lenses
- Doctor’s co-payments
The contents of your FSA don’t last forever. You’ll have to use the funds sitting inside of it by the end of the year. Don’t wait too long.
2. Healthcare Savings Account
A Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) is similar to an FSA. It’s a tax-advantaged account that takes contributions from employees through payroll deductions. The major difference between an FSA and HSA is that an FSA is meant for immediate medical expenses, while an HSA is meant for future qualified medical expenses. Every year, your HSA savings can roll over, creating a more substantial balance to rely on. Those savings can even be used to cover medical expenses in your retirement years.
If you have an FSA, you will be ineligible for an HSA. You cannot have two accounts at once.
3. Emergency Savings Account
An Emergency Savings Account (ESA) is an employer-sponsored emergency fund. Much like an FSA and HSA, an employee can contribute to their ESA through payroll deductions. Over time, they will build up a safety net that they can rely on when something goes awry.
If your employer doesn’t offer an ESA, you should consider putting together a personal emergency fund. Otherwise, you might not have enough in your bank account to cover an urgent, unplanned expense that falls into your lap. You might have to consider other methods for managing this financial situation.
One method you could use is a credit card. Charge the expense to your card and then pay down the balance through the billing cycle. Or you could try to borrow online next time you can have an emergency expense. Simply fill out an application for an online personal loan in your state of residence and see whether you get approved for it. With an approved loan, you could have enough funds to cover your expense quickly. Then — just like a credit card — you could pay down the balance through a billing cycle.
4. Wellness Program
More companies are setting up corporate wellness programs as employee benefits to encourage their everyday health and office productivity. These wellness programs vary by company. They can include mental health assistance, nutritionist assistance, smoking cessation programs, discounted gym memberships, and on-site exercise classes.
See what wellness programs your workplace offers and see how they can help you save money and stay healthy.
5. Student Loan Repayment
Some employers are offering student loan repayment programs to help their employees manage their outstanding student loans. According to the CARES Act, employers can make up to $5,250 in tax-free payments to an employee’s federal student loans. The legislation allows them to make this tax-free payment annually until 2025.
If your employer is offering a student loan repayment program, see if you’re eligible for it. The payments could make a huge difference in your debt load.
6. Commuting Benefits
Many corporate offices are reopening after the pandemic shutdowns. Employees that have worked from home for years are returning to the offices in droves, which means dealing with commuting to and from the office once again.
Some metropolitan employers are offering their employees tax-free commuter benefits to subsidize the costs that come with daily journeys to the office. If your employer offers commuting benefits, use them to cover costs for public transportation passes, parking fees, and more.
These aren’t benefits that you’ll want to neglect. If your employer offers them, you should take advantage!