Since some of you were somehow encouraged to quit your jobs (don’t) after reading my last post, I thought it only fair to flip the script and discuss the many ways working can save you big bucks:
Benefits are probably the most critical way to save big bucks. From health insurance to FSAs and 401Ks, those are just the basics. Be sure you are fully acquainted with every benefit your employer offers. Some of them are right in front of your face (free coffee, snacks), others you may have to dig for. Many companies in major metropolitan areas actually offer commute incentives either in the form of discounts for fast lanes or commute-based stipends. Be sure and ask. There may be free bus, rail or subway passes in it for you. In addition, you can save money by carpooling if you work in an area with multiple companies. Not only will your car have less wear and tear, but you will spend less on gas and on the days you don’t drive, you can catch up on office paperwork. Carpooling also builds in a schedule. If the car is leaving at 5:30 so are you so many carpoolers report being far more productive and organized as a result. And if you work in a downtown area, is parking at a premium? If so, your company should offer free parking passes or a program that allows you to expense parking.
Remote. Also, working from home either from time to time or on a scheduled basis is a definite perk that you should look into if your job and company policy supports it. Working in your jammies one or two days a week sounds like a definite money saver to me. In addition, most companies offer a wide variety of discounts for weekend and leisure activities. From theme parks to museums, employers usually have a stash of discount coupons or even an internal website you can view and see what kind of money you can save.
Other benefits can include the personal use of a company car or a car allowance if you need to drive places during work hours to do your job.
Days off. And don’t discount holiday, vacation and sick time as a benefit. In high tech most companies now offer at least three weeks combined vacation and sick time, calling it PTO (personal time off). This is a great way to manage your vacation and maximize paid time off.
Cell Savings. If you spend a lot of time on your cell phone doing business you can either request a business phone or the ability to expense your phone.
Family leave. The law does state that family leave needs to be available to qualifying employees but in order to attract big talent, some companies expand that leave policy, making it more generous and easy to take advantage of.
Flex time. If you and your family need to say money on child care, flex time could be the answer. I know many couples who have one partner in the office at 6 a.m. and out in time to pick up the kids from school. While it sounds frankly exhausting, this can save a frugal couple thousands in child care every year.
Food. In high tech, catered meals are pretty standard stuff. Take advantage, that is one less meal you are preparing and paying for.
Education is important and many companies will pay for courses and seminars as well as the membership for support organizations in your specialty. In addition, larger companies in particular will allow many employees to expense advanced education courses if they can benefit the company so if you always wanted that MBA, you might be able to get your company to pay your way.
Compensation is something all employees need to keep track of. If you are making your MBOs, hitting your goals and doing a good job, you should be rewarded accordingly. Keep careful records.
Referral bonuses. If you know a bunch of engineers and your company is hiring, don’t just pass along resumes, make sure you know the process for getting credit for their hiring if your company offers such perks. Human Resources would be the first to tell you that hiring is an expensive and time consuming business so most companies incentivize their own employees to help recruit talent. Just be aware that anyone you recommend who gets hired will reflect on you so be sure and only recommend people who you trust.
Company incentive programs. Large companies in particular, may pay you for publishing technical articles that benefit the company. Check with your marketing communications department and follow the process carefully to ensure you get paid. As someone who has run incentive programs for years, nothing is more distressing than a confrontation with a product manager type who marches into the marketing communications director’s office and demands to be paid for something that was never approved, not beneficial to the company and entirely unknown. So, follow the policy and get paid.
Travel. I have had jobs where I traveled a great deal and have always been mindful of the company’s policies. Many times, extended trips made it more economic to spend the weekends in foreign countries. This is almost free vacation but again, follow the rules. While I’ve spent a lot of time back in coach, I’ve also had free weekends in five continents and seen much of the world, a true perk.