How we use our Employment Benefits to Maximize Every Dollar

bene

There is more to your job than just your salary. Most people receive some kind of benefit at work. Whether they are non monetary like a flexible schedule or more tangible like an employee discount, we get more from our employers than our paychecks. Here are four valuable benefits that we use (or have used in the past).

401K Match: For 5 years, I worked at a company that offered a 100% match for retirement contribution up to 6% of your salary. From the first day I started working, I made sure to contribute at least the 6% that would get me the 100% company match. Anything less would seem like I am leaving free money behind. I left that firm over 4 years ago and no longer receive a match at my new place of employment. However, my husband does receive a similar benefit (100% match up to 5% of his salary) and we make sure to take advantage of it. So now, when he contributes 10% of his salary, his account is actually receiving a deposit of 15%.

Graduate School: I often discuss my journey to becoming debt free and instrumental in all of that is the elimination of my student loan debt due to the high interest rate. I graduated 2 years ago in May from a program that cost $75K. However my loans were less than $50K thanks to the tuition assistance I received when I first started the MBA program. I did switch jobs in the middle of graduate school, which contributed to the balance of my loan, however, I am $28k closer to completing my payments as a result of being able to benefit from the tuition program early on in my studies.

Cellphone Discount: We have a family plan with 3 lines for smart phones that gives all the users unlimited data and text. If that sounds pricey, it’s because it is. However, my carrier offers an 18% discount to employees of my organization. Every 2-3 years, I recertify my employment by providing a either a scanned copy of my badge, a pay stub or some other form that would indicate I still work there.

BJ’s Wholesale Club: A BJ’s membership costs $50 a year for 2 people. Given the savings opportunities that buying in bulk offers, not to mention the low gas prices, that is already a fantastic deal. However, my husband’s job offers a discount where the membership costs less and is for a longer period of time: $40 for 16 months. Per month, the discounted price is nearly 1/2 the regular advertised price.

How are you maximizing your employee benefits?

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Frugal Fridays: Reception Details

This is my version of throw back Thursday: Some of the best finds from my own days of wedding planning.

reception

It’s the little expenses that creep up on us. That’s what every couple is told to watch out for. You budgeted $2,000 for your dress but the slip is $120, the bra is $80 and a veil is $300. Oh you think that garter is cute? That will be $30. It never ends. And that’s not just your dress. The reception costs will sneak up on you as well. Your keepsake box will run you $15 to $30. Don’t forget taxes, shipping for the things you can’t get in town, etc.

I couldn’t allow the unexpected to bust my budget, so I hunted for deals like a man lost in the Sahara hunts for water. Here are some of my deals:

1) Small gift bags for my favors: less than $70 for 100 from Amazon
2) Matching color tissue papers to stuff them: $9 for 100 from Amazon
3) ‘Mr. & Mrs.’ wood chair hangers: $15 (50% off sale) from Amazon (I never actually used those as I forgot I bought them!)
4) Personalized hanger* – $3.99 (+$10 for shipping). This was a one-day sale. These are usually $19.99-$25.99. from Etsy

*All items except for the hanger were shipped for free, saving me a lot of money as well. 

Wednesday Win: Free Money

How I feel right now…

How I feel right now…

A few months ago I got a little flyer in the mail from Citizens’ bank saying that I could get $200 for FREE. I am never one to pass up anything that’s free, especially if it’s free money. However, I have been around long enough to know that everything comes with a catch, with that I mind, I made it my first priority to locate the fine print. Here were the terms:

  1. Open the account by a certain date
  2. Make a deposit of ANY amount every month to avoid a monthly statement charge
  3. At least one of the deposits must be $100 within 2 months of the account opening
  4. The account must be open for 3 months

Here’s how I fulfilled the requirements:

  1. I opened the account 2 days before the deadline with the minimum allowed: $20
  2. I deposited $1 every month to avoid the charge…
  3. Except to meet the $100 requirement. Within 2 months I made one deposit of $100.
  4. A few days past the 3 month mark, the account was credited $200.

I found out at 4:30pm, at 9am the next morning I closed the account and withdrew $324. If you’re doing the math, that’s a return of 161% over the course of 3 and a half months. If only my retirement accounts could perform like this all year! I could work part time for the rest of my life and still retire like a queen…

I don’t believe in get rich quick schemes and I don’t believe in doing anything illegal, but if an opportunity presents itself for something legitimate, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of it. My dad did point out that it’s possibly costing them more than a dollar to process my $1 transaction, but by saying “a deposit of ANY amount”, that’s the risk they take. I followed all of their rules and I was rewarded for it. I played their game according to their rules, and I won. It doesn’t always happen, so when it does, it should certainly be celebrated.

Let me know if anyone else is running a similar promotion. Mama needs a new pair of shoes! 😛