13 Ways to Save $5000 or More at Work
There’s money to be found at work and it’s not too far from your desk or place of employment. The key to finding money at your work is to do a little bit of investigation and then taking advantage of the savings if you are able. There are many different types of savings that can be found at work, but they generally fall into these categories:
- Defined Payroll Benefits – the employer offers benefits at reduced or no cost to help attract/retain employees.
- Product Service Discounts – reduced prices for products or services that your company offers.
- Payroll Deductions for Products – buying products through your employer to get tax savings offered by federal or state tax law.
- Marketing Programs – the employer using its employees as an audience to negotiate special deals with third parties.
- In Kind Products/Services – the employer provides items to you that you probably would otherwise buy elsewhere.
If you are not sure where to start, go to your HR department. They will have all of this information available, very likely it will be online where you can enroll or find out more information. Here’s the list!
- Health Care Insurance – This is likely the largest benefit in dollar terms that an employer offers (I know it is for me). When you buy health insurance through your employer you will save money on taxes because the premiums are exempt from Federal/State income taxes. If you have a spouse, try to ‘opt out’ of one of your plans and use one or the other medical plan (if your spouse works). By declining one plan you will save some money.
- Commuter Expense Reimbursement – As I write this in 2010, you can currently spend $230/month on commuting expenses and $230/month on car parking expenses, which are both exempt from Federal income taxes. This covers public transit systems, the only reimbursement for cars is the parking. I recommend that you try to obtain a commuter reimbursement credit card that offers the ability to charge your expenses at will (instead of buying specific transit services through the account directly).
- Health Care Expense Reimbursement – Deduct up to $3,500 per year exempt from Federal taxes to pay for medical/dental/vision expenses. You can pay the deductibles/co-pays for services that were covered by insurance and you can pay for these services fully even if your payroll deductions don’t yet cover the expenses. The downside is that you must determine once per year how much you want to spend – if you don’t spend the money that year you lose it.
- Daycare Reimbursement – Deduct up to $5,000 per year exempt from Federal taxes to pay for child care services for your dependents.
- Retirement Saving Account – Deduct up to $22,000 per year from Federal/State taxes when you put away retirement money in a 401(k), 403(b) account. These are a great way to save for retirement and you get immediate tax benefits in your paycheck, whereas with regular IRAs you get the benefit when you file your tax return at the end of the year.
- Personal Cell Phone Discounts – The major cell phone operators will offer discounts of 20% or more to many employers, right now I get a 22% discount from Verizon Wireless. You don’t need to buy a new phone or sign a new contract, you can get a discount for the plan you have right now. This may be offered as part of your corporate perks program (see below).
- Auto Insurance Discounts – I currently buy my car insurance through a mutual insurance company that is non-profit and owned by it’s policyholders. In order to buy the policy, your employer needs to be a member company. When I compare the policy to other competitors on the open market, the policy is much less expensive.
- Dental/Eye Care Insurance – For many people, these policies are optional. You will get the same deal as with health insurance policies (deduct your premiums from Federal tax bill). Note that if you also enroll in the Health Care Reimbursement program, you can pay for these out of pocket instead of the buying the insurance policy. Consider your expenses and policy costs before deciding. I personally do buy the Dental Insurance, but I decline the Eye Care policy.
- Free Drinks – Most employers will offer filtered water and various drinks to use at work. It’s a good deal for the employer because they know that if you leave the premises for drinks, productivity will likely be lower.
- Company Freebies – Employers can offer all sorts of freebies, usually the same products and services that they offer as a business. Personally, I’ve gotten weekend use of cars (corvettes as well as the more pedestrian vehicles), free doctors (paid by the company – not by your health insurance). I know some colleagues who were offered unlimited M&Ms (Mars company), and another company even provided free lunches!
- Company Product Discounts – Some employers offer their own products as a discount to their employees. When I worked for a pharmaceutical company, they offered reduced cost health/wellness products. When I worked for an automobile manufacturer, they offered their own vehicles are reduced cost.
- Corporate Perks Program – Using the power of their employee base, the company gets discounts for its employees to hundreds of stores through a corporate perks program. The company I work for now provides these discounts using corporateperks.com. I’ve personally used this program to get discounts at BlueNile.com , BrooksBrothers.com and Target.com.
- Employer Sponsorships – A company may sponsor events or third party charitable or non-profit entities such as museums, sports/entertainment events, and trade shows. All you would need to take advantage of these programs is your employee badge. I have found that these benefits require some research to find at your company; e.g., I had to contact my HR department to find out which museums in NYC they support.
The list above just covers stuff that I know about with my own employer. There may be others in your own experience, all you need to do is to keep an eye out.