Welcome to Day 10 of our 30-Day Easy Money Makeover! Every day in April, we’re bringing you strategies to help you improve, and feel more confident about, your money situation. Follow along and see the rest of the calendar here .
Whether you’re about to start a new job or looking to make the most of your current one, taking a close look at your benefits package can pay off — big time.
Your paycheck gets most of the attention, but benefits are valuable, too. They account for 37.5% of your total compensation, according to December 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“There’s a war on talent right now, so companies want to have the best comprehensive benefits package that they can put together,” says Vanessa Nelson, author of “101 Costly HR Mistakes.”
For employers, a good package can be the difference in attracting and keeping employees, says Carol Sladek, work-life consulting leader and partner at Aon Strategic Advisory. There’s a handful of traditional benefits you’re most likely to encounter, including health insurance, paid time off, short- and long-term disability coverage, and life insurance. Then there are the smaller benefits gaining traction, like pet insurance, gym memberships, and student loan repayment.
“It’s almost a disadvantage if you don’t offer something like that,” says Claire Bissot, managing director at CBIZ HR Services.
What the trend means for current employees: If you haven’t reviewed your package recently, you could be missing out. Here’s how to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table:
Start by reviewing benefits you’re already participating in, to make sure you’re taking full advantage. For example, 1 in 5 employees is not contributing enough to a 401(k) to get the full match offered by their employer. And about 6 in 10 companies offer “wellness reimbursements” for actions that improve your health, according to the National Business Group on Health — filling out a little paperwork at your next annual physical could help you cut your insurance costs year round.
“People can overvalue certain benefits and really miss the mark on what they especially needed,” says Bissot.
Depending on the benefit, you might have a limited window to enroll or change your participation. Ask when that so-called open enrollment period is, and use this time to plan ahead so that you’re not making spur-of-the-moment decisions.
Take advantage of resources within your company, including the employee handbook, employee internal site, and HR—to see what benefits or perks are available that you might not be aware of. (Check out the list above for some common ones.)
If you'd like to see a certain perk on offer, let your company know, says Bissot.
"A lot of times it is what it is, but ask the questions too," she says. "If you see [something] missing, don't be afraid to ask."