By Stuart Schultz
So you landed your first job, you’re making money and paying bills, and now come the perks—free little acknowledgments that you're a bona fide adult with hard-earned privileges. They may not be as exciting as first-class chopper service to the faraway destination of your dreams
or souped-up Lamborghinis, but company benefits can be very useful and worthwhile. From free gym memberships to health care and 401(k) plans, you should talk to HR or even read that little welcome booklet so you know everything that’s on the table. Then, take advantage of every perk available. Even if you plan on leaving a job soon after you start, don't be bashful—all those free morsels are yours to enjoy, and you can even take some with you when you go. Here’s a guide to taking advantage of the company you work for (in a way they design and encourage).
If you had to pick only one company benefit to have, it would be health insurance. Fortunately, we have you covered with our guide to health insurance .
401(k) Retirement Account
If health insurance is the most valuable company benefit, 401(k)s are the most undervalued. In a nutshell, a 401(k) enables you to take money you’ve earned and deposit it into an investment account before you get taxed on it. Read our guide to 401(k)’s, Roth IRA’s and other retirement options to determine if it's right for you.
Workers Comp Insurance
Certainly an important one. Let’s say you’re a hand model like Ducovny in Zoolander. Well what happens if you have a terrible gasoline fight accident and burn your precious appendages in the process? Workers comp can help. The insurance company will provide a comparable salary, and despite some nuances , it can grant you some peace of mind while you get back on your feet.
There are four types of life insurance , and all are awkward to describe—we’ll try to lay it on easy. If you have life insurance, and croak, your dependents will receive a boatload of cash. That’s why there are a lot of movies about life insurance scams—who could forget Wild Things? If you aren’t married and aren’t looking after anyone in your family, etc., this may be an insurance you consider skipping if you’re asked to pay for it. If it’s free, dig in.
Many companies provide their employees with Blackberries and cell phone plans. A shiny new Blackberry can feel like a sign that you've "made it," but once emails from your boss start coming through at midnight it's more like a leash. Furthermore, the company will have access to all your call logs, messages, minute usage. Ask others in the office to get a sense of how strict your company about using the phone for personal use. If you need more privacy, consider accepting the company plan then getting your own celly with a scaled plan (no need for those daytime minutes).
Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
This account is an enigma to most people. Ultimately, it all...