Most people wouldn’t turn down more money. And with many paying back student loans on top of covering basic living expenses, trying to make some extra cash can become a top priority.
It seems the easiest way to do that is by asking for a raise. But your employer might not be on board with your timeline for a salary bump. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a financial boost from them, though. Some companies provide benefits that employees might not be taking advantage of to cover certain costs.
Here are five ways you can get “free” money from your employer without getting a raise.
1. Tap into your Health Savings Account (HSA)
Nearly 43 million people have overdue medical debt averaging $1,766. That’s a lot of debt to to deal with on top of your other expenses. While having a higher salary could help you save for an emergency fund for medical issues, there’s another option to relieve the burden: contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA).
Some companies that offer HSAs also contribute to such accounts, which means free money to cover medical costs. This money can be used to pay for medical expenses such as prescriptions, copays, and deductibles, reducing the overall cost of some medical bills. What’s more, that contribution is tax-deductible, and the balance in your HSA account can roll over from year to year.
Check with your human resources department to find out the options available at your company and how you can tap into this extra money.
2. Use your company’s 401(k) matching program
Saving for the long term can be a challenge: 69% of millennials surveyed are not saving for retirement, according to online lender Earnest. Although it can be hard to think about setting aside money when you have to manage student loan payments, it can help with future financial goals — especially if your employer offers a match on retirement plans.
Many companies offer a 401(k) matching program as an employee benefit, under which they contribute a percentage of the amount you put into your account. That’s bonus money, which will earn interest.
Let’s look at some numbers. Say you’re 30 years old making $40,000 a year and contributing 10% of your salary to a 401(k) plan with a goal to retire at 65. You’d have nearly $574,000 in your account in 35 years. If your employer offers a match of 50% of your contributions up to 6% of your salary, that balance will jump to over $745,000.
It might not put immediate cash in your pocket, but if you didn’t take advantage of the benefit, you’d be passing on an extra $171,000 at that critical retirement age.
3. Negotiate more paid time off (PTO)
Extra vacation time isn’t the same as cash, but it’s a good bonus that could benefit your bottom line and mental health.
Having more downtime can help you relax and reboot, ultimately making you a happier and more productive employee. It could help get you recognized in the long run, especially when a raise and promotion are possible.
Also, you could use that extra time off to earn cash with a side hustle. Either invest in starting a side business or sign up for one of the many sharing economy gigs, such as Uber. For example, if you get five bonus PTO days a year and spend six hours of those days driving for Uber, you could make about $460 since drivers can earn an average of $15.45* per hour, according to the ride-sharing company.
Also, you might be able to use this calculation as a bargaining chip with your boss to seek more PTO if your employer is unable to provide the raise you want.
4. Find out if your job offers a referral bonus
Companies take on a lot of risks when hiring a new employee. Yes, they can use a thorough vetting and interview process, but they can’t know if it will work successfully. That’s why having a referral from a current employee is helpful.
After all, wouldn’t you trust the suggestion from a friend to be set up on a blind date rather than go through an online dating service?
Because an employee referral is beneficial for employers, some of them offer a referral bonus system, which pays you for recommending talent. Some companies pay hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the position.
Also, some companies will offer a bonus if you bring in a new business prospect that could be profitable. Talk with your management and human resources folks to see what referral system they have, or suggest one.
5. Request to telecommute
Working from the comfort of your bed in pajamas sounds nice. And it can help you save money. Since you don’t need to go into the office, you’d be cutting down expenses for gas, lunch, and dry cleaning.
By working remotely full time, you can save an average of $4,668, according to research from FlexJobs. Even telecommuting for half the time could save you about $2,000. Sure, that’s not a boost in your salary, but it’s a lot of money that could go toward savings or other financial goals.
Free money from your employer comes in many forms
Making more money at your job isn’t always about increasing your salary or getting a promotion. There might be untapped resources available through your employer that could help your bottom line in the short and long run.
Do some research and talk to your human resources department to find out what benefits your company offers. That could include child care stipends, covered fertility treatments, and more. Having and using this information could mean more money.
* This opportunity is for an independent contractor and consecutive hours on the road may not exceed specified limits. Stated trip earnings of $618.01/week are based on 40 hours of driving per week using the net median national earnings of driver partners from May 2018. Median earnings in your specific location may be lower than the national figure. Actual earnings vary depending on number of rides accepted and taken, time of day, location and other factors.
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