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3 Hidden Workplace Benefits That Could Save You Thousands

By Maurie Backman - Jan 9, 2016 at 6:05PM

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Think twice before passing these up.

The decision to accept or reject a job offer often boils down to money. If you're offered a salary that's not quite what you were hoping for, you may be inclined to pass in search of a more lucrative counter. Remember, however, that employer compensation isn't just about salary alone. In some cases, the benefits that come with your salary may add more than enough value to make up for a seemingly lackluster paycheck.

When it comes to benefits, we're all familiar with the usual string of perks. In fact, paid vacation days and subsidized health insurance have pretty much become the norm, with extras like 401(k) matches and free coffee generally following suit. But here are three lesser-known benefits that can save you a bundle.

1. Tuition assistance
Advancing your career could boil down to obtaining an additional certification or degree, but even if you're willing to put in the time, you may wind up balking at the cost. On the other hand, if your company reimburses your tuition expenses, the pursuit of that added knowledge may suddenly seem more attainable. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, over 50% of employers offer some form of tuition assistance. If yours is one of them, you could save anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on education costs.

But let's think about what that savings is really worth. Imagine you're facing $5,000 in tuition costs to complete a graduate program, and your employer is willing to reimburse that amount, thus sparing you from having to take out student loans. You're not only saving $5,000, but also whatever interest charges would've otherwise come with it. Imagine financing that same $5,000 with 8% interest. Assuming a five-year payback period, you'd be looking at monthly payments of over $100 per month, plus total interest charges of over $1,000.

2. Free emergency child care
Sometimes nannies call in sick, and it's not unheard of for a day care center to be closed for unforeseen repairs or for scheduled vacation periods. Paying for child care is one thing, but paying for backup child care can be a huge burden, especially if the need arises unexpectedly. Thankfully, some companies offer free backup or emergency day care for employees whose spouses also work outside the home.

The logistics work differently depending on the company. Some employers, for example, offer a number of days for which they'll reimburse you for emergency child care once you submit receipts for your out-of-pocket costs. Say your regular nanny needs to leave town and you're forced to hire a $1,500-per-week replacement from a local agency. (Yes, it could happen.) Your company might refund that entire $1,500, or a portion thereof, as part of its emergency child care benefit. Other employers actually offer on-site emergency day care, where you can bring your child in and rest assured that he or she will be looked after while you're hard at work. In either scenario, this benefit could save you big-time.

3. Free life insurance
While life insurance is by no means reserved for those who have children, wealth, or a combination of both, it can be pricey to come by at any age. And in most cases, the older you get, the more you'll wind up paying for coverage. If your company offers free life insurance, it could translate into major savings.

Let's say you currently earn $200,000 per year and your company offers coverage in the amount of five times your salary, or a $1 million death benefit. If you're a 30-year-old non-smoker, you may find a 20-year term policy with a similar death benefit that costs $1,000 a year or more. Getting that coverage for free, therefore, translates into instant savings. Of course, company-sponsored life insurance has its limitations -- namely, the fact that in most cases, you can't take it with you once you leave your job. But if you're in a secure position and can see yourself staying at your current company for the long haul, then you may be able to forgo additional coverage and pocket the resulting savings.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, and likewise you shouldn't judge a job offer by the salary alone. Before you accept or reject an offer, take the time to evaluate what the associated benefits are worth. You may be surprised at how much money you stand to save by saying yes.

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