Don't Leave Money on the Table at Work

In this joyous season of open enrollment, the experts nudge you to get what's coming to you—beyond the company match on your 401(k). Here's what to do.


Fill Out the Corporate Wellness Survey.

Photo by Eight Hour Day

Does that 100-question poll about your health habits feel a bit…intrusive? Perhaps. But participating can lead to significant discounts on insurance. More price breaks are in store if you sign up for corporate exercise classes or programs that manage issues such as diabetes.


Exploit Flexible-Spending Options.

It might be a bit of a hassle to set up pretax flexible-spending accounts (FSAs) for gym, child-care, and commuting costs, but, says Farnoosh Torabi, the host of the podcast So Money, think of the savings: If you're in the 25 percent tax bracket, paying with pretax FSA dollars gives you 25 percent off. A good motivational mantra.


Consider a High-Deductible Health Plan.

According to Bruce Elliott, the manager of compensation and benefits at the Society for Human Resource Management, high-deductible plans that come with a health savings account (HSA) are worth a look. An HSA is different from a flexible-spending account (which might be attached to a traditional health plan) because HSA funds roll over from year to year. Checkups are typically covered 100 percent with these plans, but if you're nervous about the high deductible, save up enough in your HSA to cover it. Then keep the money there for next year if you don't use it. Some companies contribute to employee HSAs.


Hunt for Treasures.

Search your benefits site for hidden perks. You may be covered for the costs of a nutritionist, massages, or acupuncture. While you're in research mode, investigate the Family and Medical Leave Act. Some states (like California, Oregon, and Massachusetts, and also Washington, D.C.) interpret the word family more broadly and allow paid time off to care for not just infants but also parents, in-laws, and grandparents.


Take Off.

A 2014 survey by the career website Glassdoor found that 75 percent of U.S. workers don't use all their paid vacation. That's like handing a stack of cash back to the boss. The easiest way to maximize benefits is to take all the time you're paid not to work.