I am the first to admit that I am not ashamed to take free money – or anything free for that matter. So when I started hearing about all of the benefits my job provided, I researched and did everything I could to profit from those benefits. The results? Earning an extra $2,500+ each year without doing any extra work. Here’s how I did it.
I contributed to my 401(k).
Many companies will match a percent of what you contribute into your 401(k) from your paycheck. My company matches mine at 50% and up to a certain dollar amount per year. If you can afford to, contribute up to the amount your company will pay to get the most from your company. I cannot afford to put that much into my retirement from each check right now, but I do make sure to contribute something to get the extra money from my company. It will help my retirement and after all, it is free money.
Total contributed by my company last year = $687
I checked in with my doctor and practiced healthy living.
The healthier a company’s workers are, the less likely they are to have sick days, right? Because of this, many companies reward their employees for being healthy with a variety of incentives. Every year, I get a physical from my doctor. If I meet 4 out of 6 criteria (good blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), I get a discount on my insurance. If I sign a waiver saying I do not smoke, I get even more of a discount. Investigate your health plans and ask someone on your benefits team if there are any incentives for living a healthy lifestyle.
Total saved on insurance (and put into my pocket) last year = $780
I participated in challenges.
Another way my company keeps us healthy is to host various fitness challenges. With each challenge I complete, I earn points. After a certain amount of points, I get a prize – a gift card or money in my paycheck. Many people in my company don’t even know about this or just don’t have the time or drive to log their success, but for me, it is a no brainer! If your company does not host challenges, talk to your coworkers and see if they want to put together a challenge in which everyone pitches in a few bucks for the winner. Such challenges could be a weightloss challenge, step challenge, water drinking challenge, etc.
Total earned last year (with amazon gift cards and cash) = $300
I found other modes of transportation.
If you live in the city or work somewhere that has you parking in a parking garage, you may be able to get paid to give up your spot. Or, your job may offer incentives to choose a greener way of commuting. That may include taking public transportation, riding your bike, or participating in a carpool. I live in the suburbs and work in the city, so I decided to take an express bus in and get paid for my spot. If you already take public transportation, look into whether your job offers discounts for passes. When I lived in Chicago, my monthly pass was about $10 cheaper when I purchased it through my work. If there is no incentive, but you can still find a different way to work, you may want to consider it to save on gas each month.
Total paid for my spot last year = $840
I Took Advantage of Other Benefits that Saved Me Money
While I did not include these into the calculations, my company also has a great tuition reimbursement program, which paid for me to get a certificate in computer coding. I am also able to save money by visiting various stores, attractions, and restaurants that offer discounts to employees of my company.
I do need to say that I work for an awesome company that really takes care of its employees. Some people may not be so lucky to work for a company like this. While your company may not provide the same benefits, the most important tip to take away from this post is to do your research. Meet with your HR rep to ask about the company’s benefits and to see if they offer anything close to what I listed above. I spoke with others and they, too, have similar incentives and benefits at their jobs. Speak with other employees and read the employee handbook. You never know what you might find out about your company or what little-known benefits are hiding in HR. If there are not many benefits, why not share some ideas with someone in your HR department. It never hurts to ask. Plus, it shows initiative.