5 Common Money Mistakes

Zaneilia A. Harris says don’t make the same error she did with your hard-earned cash

Mistake 5: Not taking advantage of company benefits
Benefits make up about 30% of employee compensation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So a failure to use them leaves a lot of money on the table, says Michael Erwin, a spokesman for CareerBuilder. Open enrollment typically takes place in October. To make sure you get the most from your benefits:

Light the 401(k) match. Make sure you save enough through your employer-sponsored plan to take advantage of any company match, says ASEC’s McDonnell. Not only is the match free money, but “401(k) contributions offer tax advantages and are one of the best ways to build retirement savings.”

Consider lesser-known benefits. Employees frequently overlook flexible healthcare spending accounts, wellness benefits, tuition reimbursement, and banking programs. Some employers offer employees discounts on items such as personal entertainment, technology, and travel, Erwin says.

Don’t be afraid to ask. When you’re negotiating your salary for a new job, ask for benefits such as telecommuting and tuition reimbursement, suggests Dawn Fay, district president of Robert Half International, a staffing services firm. Telecommuting can save you commuting costs, and coursework may later “translate into more dollars and opportunities.”

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