You work hard for the money—and the benefits. Make the most of them with these helpful tips.
1. TAKE EVERY SINGLE VACATION DAY YOU HAVE.
It'll make you healthier, more productive, and if you're a stickler for the numbers, you'll technically earn more money per day worked.
2. SAVE AT THE GYM (OR ON YOUR PHONE BILL).
Many employers provide special deals and discounts on gym memberships, cell phone plans, magazine subscriptions, shopping at local businesses, and more. Find out where you can save and take advantage. This may mean canceling some existing subscriptions, but a great deal is worth it.
3. FIGURE OUT IF YOU CAN GET PAID TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL.
Education is one of the few things you can spend money on that actually makes you richer—sometimes even literally. If your company offers tuition reimbursement or continuing education incentives that'll advance your career, dig out your old Trapper Keeper and consider heading back to the classroom. The same applies for outside training and professional development opportunities.
4. TAKE STOCK OF YOUR COMPANY’S 401(K) PLAN …
Investing in your company's 401(k) helps you save money for the future. And because contributions aren't taxed as current income and the money grows—tax-deferred—as long as it's in the plan, you’ll save some cash today, too.
5. … AND CONTRIBUTE WHATEVER YOUR EMPLOYER WILL MATCH.
Saving for the future is admirable; accepting free money is just common sense. If your employer matches retirement contributions up to a specific percentage, run to your HR office and sign up to contribute as much as they'll match.
6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TREAT YOURSELF (TO GOOD HEALTH, THAT IS).
You don't always get what you pay for, especially in the case of health benefits. Don't limit yourself to appointments when something goes wrong or you've been harassed by your dentist for half a year about your teeth cleaning. Be proactive about preventive care, which can save you a lot of pain and money in the future. You might also consider what your current insurance will cover that you may not have if you leave your job. Think: immunizations for future travel, egg freezing, or chiropractics.
7. CONSIDER JOINING YOUR PARTNER’S HEALTH PLAN.
If you're in a marriage or domestic partnership with another working person, enjoy the spoils! Peruse the buffet of benefits and cherry-pick the best ones. Don't assume the person with the fancier job always has a sweeter deal.