This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices.
When I first got my job, I pretty much paid minimal attention to the benefits that were available to me. I signed up for a 401(k), but only put in enough to match. I signed up for the cheap health insurance option. And that was it, even though if I dug around, there were lots of other benefits available to me.
When I finally got some sense, though, I realized I was missing out on a lot of worthwhile stuff that my organization offered to me, so I started digging around. I wound up with free meals, free college coursework, free tickets to sporting and cultural events, a free term life insurance policy, and much more. How? I spent some time digging around the benefits office at work and finding out about all of the programs. All told, it only took about an hour to discover all of this stuff. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but here’s what you should do at work when you have an hour to burn.
Look through the employee material given to you when you signed up for work. Look for all of the benefits programs available to you. Almost always, there are several things mentioned in the manual that were never mentioned during the orientation session. Catalog everything you find that might be of interest to you.
Place a friendly call to the benefits office. Ask if there’s a full listing of benefits programs. If you can’t get one of those, ask for an updated copy of the employee orientation materials. This will provide additional material to look through.
Sign up for every program you find of interest to you. I found a life insurance program that I didn’t even know existed when I started digging. It’s basically free term life insurance for every employee – if you know about it. I figured that signing on a dotted line was well worth getting a life insurance policy that lasts while I work there equal to a multiple of my salary. If you find anything of interest or benefit to you that’s part of your benefits package, sign up for it.
Utilize every career advancement option available to you. For example, if your organization will pay for college credit, start taking something. Start on an evening MBA, or work towards a master’s degree in your area of expertise. If you can get free tickets to cultural events, get everything you can and use them instead of doing other things that would actually pinch your wallet.
My philosophy is that if it’s a benefit at work that’s given to all employees, I might as well be using it since the company’s already paying for it and viewing it as part of my compensation. You should, too – don’t hesitate to look up the programs available to you and sign up today.