Author Topic: Leveraging work perks  (Read 1330 times)

MrThatsDifferent

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Leveraging work perks
« on: October 10, 2017, 01:24:52 PM »
Since Iíve discovered MMM Iíve been thinking of ways to maximize benefits at work (legally and morally, not meaning stealing stuff from work).  Hereís what Iím currently doing:

1. Travel: I love traveling and previously most of my spending went to that. Now, Iím letting my work trips satisfy my travel urges. Iím a bit lucky because Iím in charge of the travel budget and can generally swing several trips to other states each year and at least one international trip without any dramas. I can do more international trips but have to make a good case for it. I might tack on a couple personal days or use the weekends so the flight is covered by work
2. Vacation days: Because the work travel is scratching that itch, I can reduce the need to use my own vacation days. Weíre allowed to bank days (although HR prefers we use them). We get 5 weeks a year and my plan is to use 2 weeks for me and bank the other 3. After 5 years, I hope to have around 15 weeks of vacation days banked up for a nice payout when I pull the plug. Those days will be paid out at my salary at that time.
3. iPad: We just added a tech allowance so now I get $40/month to my cellular iPad (which covers the cost, so Iím getting this for free and I own it)
4. Foodówe have lots of food all of the time. Unfortunately itís generally more carby then Iím supposed to be eating.  Iím still working out how to maximize this, without damaging my health.

The vacation days will have the biggest impact as it lets me retire 4-5 months earlier.

What perks do you work?

TreesBikesLove

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2017, 01:59:14 PM »
Good topic. At my work we get to play with expensive computer hardware and that has completely satiated my desire for fancy PC gaming components. When there is a $4000 gaming PC with HTC Vive VR headset at work I have no need for a similarly capable machine at home. Food is an obvious benefit and usually there's leftovers so that I either have dinner or can eat my sack-lunch as my dinner later. Soccer games are really fun at work and prevent me from having to sign up for some adult club, saving $hundreds. Additionally we get passes to employee stores like Columbia, Adidas, and Nike so I don't have to pay full price for shoes (which are expensive), quality rain jackets (a necessity here in the PNW), or athletic clothing.

Speaking more of leverage in the financial definition, my future brother-in-law purchased a home with an incentive program with his work. I don't know the specifics but it was something like help with downpayment, a pay-raise at work (maybe because he's more incentivised to stay with the company?), and they help with closing costs if he is required to move for work. That's a great benefit in this heated RE market but you won't catch me doing his job. Corporate insurance sales... just the thought makes my inner introvert shudder.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2017, 02:24:55 PM »
Good one trees! You reminded me: I can also divert part of my salary to pay my housing costs from pre-tax dollars.

elaine amj

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 02:33:25 PM »
I like going to various concerts/shows/festivals but hate paying for admission fees. We sometimes get free tickets through my work and it's always fun. Ditto for meals at various local restaurants and local activities. For example, I've been wanting to go on a local river cruise for years. Finally, this year, I was able to set things up so that I escorted a group on the cruise and had a fun night for free. Two weeks ago, I also got to watch a musical that came to town and had a fancy steakhouse dinner.

It's nice to be able to do things I enjoy and yet don't value quite enough to pay for myself.

jorjor

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2017, 02:45:48 PM »
Mostly travel related and taking advantage of flexible work situations.

Some examples: The last couple of years, I would bring my wife to work conferences on the Southwest CP, she would work from the hotel room most of the day and do her own thing while I was doing work, and when the conference was done we would spend some time together on our own. A couple times a year when I am speaking, I'm able to have a significantly higher travel budget that isn't charged to my department, so I would book business select and ramp up points really quick for our own travels. An opportunity came up for me to speak near our hometown last December, so we leveraged that and the CP into flying home for Christmas for free.

I use my personal card for all expenses which fills up quite a few points..

Lunch catered in every Thursday, and I'll typically have leftovers the next day.

elaine amj

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2017, 05:24:01 PM »
Mostly travel related and taking advantage of flexible work situations.

Some examples: The last couple of years, I would bring my wife to work conferences on the Southwest CP, she would work from the hotel room most of the day and do her own thing while I was doing work, and when the conference was done we would spend some time together on our own. A couple times a year when I am speaking, I'm able to have a significantly higher travel budget that isn't charged to my department, so I would book business select and ramp up points really quick for our own travels. An opportunity came up for me to speak near our hometown last December, so we leveraged that and the CP into flying home for Christmas for free.

I use my personal card for all expenses which fills up quite a few points..

Lunch catered in every Thursday, and I'll typically have leftovers the next day.

Southwest CP was so awesome for this. One time, I had to fly to Providence, RI for a conference. We used SW Companion Pass for my DH to fly with me for free. We flew in a day early and traveled around first. Then checked in to the conference hotel where DH's gold status scored us an upgrade to a giant suite - the most beautiful we have stayed in. He chilled out in the room during my sessions, enjoying surfing on his laptop and watching TV. In the evening, we would go out for dinner. I often chose places with really good Happy Hour specials and we would order 3 apps to share. At under $25, it was a reasonably priced meal for me to use for my expense report. OR, I would order one large entrťe and we would just share it. Sometimes we would supplement with an additional app/entrťe that we would pay for ourselves.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 12:08:02 AM »
Oops, didnít realize someone had already started this thread.

asauer

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2017, 05:41:52 AM »
My work doesn't offer a ton of perks other than I get 3 lunches/ week paid for.  My husband works for a large tech company and he gets a bunch.  Free online nurse consults- we've saved a bundle on co-pays, cell bill is covered and $40 of our internet is covered b/c he works remotely.  working remotely is also a huge $ saver.  doesn't need work clothes, saves $ on gas and car maintenance.

The only thing I miss about my old job (started this on in Jan) is that when I travelled for work, they paid daily G&A allotment for T&E even if I didn't spend it all.  So, every trip I'd have around $150-200 in my pocket.

TreesBikesLove

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2017, 09:05:41 AM »
The only thing I miss about my old job (started this on in Jan) is that when I travelled for work, they paid daily G&A allotment for T&E even if I didn't spend it all.  So, every trip I'd have around $150-200 in my pocket.

The flat alottment system sounds so much nicer and easier (for employee and employer) than the friggin expense report system. Why is it the burden of the individual to prove his business expenses? It should be the burden of the business to prove it was personal expense.

jorjor

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2017, 10:18:34 AM »
Ohhhh, I forgot my wife's perks. Wife is an event planner. Some perks from that:

- She is a registered travel agent because of her job. We can normally call ahead to a hotel and get very cheap rates at hotels, specifically 5-6 dirt cheap stays at a couple nice chains. Downside is you don't earn points for those stays, but well worth it.
- She had to plan a meeting in Kuala Lumpur one year. She had to go to the city to scope out potential hotel venues, and then had to actually go to the meeting. That's two round trips across the world in one year, and tacking on a couple other trips throughout the year gave her gold on United, which gave reciprocal gold at Marriott, which gave us free breakfast and access to happy hour/executive suite in the evenings.
- Every once in a while hotels and airlines will come and present to them to get them to schedule meetings with them. One year Air Emirates came and raffled off a few pairs of round trips to Dubai, which she won. The flight was auto-upgradable to business class if that cabin wasn't sold out, and we purposely booked a lower-volume flight time so we were upgraded.
- When we do go somewhere, hotels will often want to take her on a tour of the grounds and we will get upgraded to a suite, or will have a bottle of champagne waiting for us, things like that.

So let's put that altogether...

We flew to Dubai for free in business class which was awesome. We used her travel agent rate to get a huge discount at our Marriott hotel. We used gold status to get breakfast each morning for free which would have been $30+ per person, and happy hour in the executive lounge in the evening. That meant we could have a glass of wine at night which is expensive in Dubai where you can even find it. On one day, we got a tour of Burj al-Arab (the "7 star" hotel in Dubai), tea at their lounge, and access to their private beach. (Which was really funny. Rep: "What are you doing next?" Us: "Probably going to the beach." Rep: "Which one?" Us: "Oh, the Jumeirah public beach (which is a perfectly nice beach)." Rep: [Disgusted] "Oh, no I won't let you do that. I'll get you down on our private beach.")

That was a pretty sweet trip.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 10:21:52 AM by jorjor »

RobFIRE

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2017, 12:20:20 PM »
Two main ones:

* working from home rather than office when not travelling to client site. Means I have zero commuting time, can be somewhat flexible about hours, have my own lunch at home, work in my own environment, avoid some office politics. The time saving, work and personal flexibility & productivity benefits are great. I would NOT want to return to going to office every day (but ever man has his price...). Pure financial benefit isn't much compared to when living within walking distance to office.

* Pension contributions. By paying in a lot more than the standard to get the employer matching, I save so much income tax (and get half of the employer's NI savings, which is just an income tax by another name for those not in UK) that my total take home pay and pension contributions are £500 a month more, and all I had to do was fill in a simple form (though yes, I am reducing the flexibility of my savings a bit by having a higher proportion in a pension I can't access for another 20 years or so).

One mid size one:
* refunds from travel delays from work travel. When travelling every week, every few weeks a train is significantly delayed and I can claim compensation (while still claiming the original ticket cost as expenses - at time of claiming expense I do not know if I will actually get the ticket compensation, and the delays mean I am using my personal time for work travel). Does mean the delays have cost my time, but typically worth £500 or more per year.

Smaller things:
* Company offers access to a rewards scheme, most of it is just 5% or 10% discount on shopping in department stores etc., not very exciting if you are not generally a spendy person. However, it does offer 5% off supermarket shopping, so is worth a few £ a month for no effort.
* When travelling for work have work expenses so use cash back credit card and get some points too, no big numbers like in the US but at 0.5% cash back and same in points is perhaps worth £20 a month, again for no effort (have to pay and reclaim my expenses anyway).
* Travelling for work means I get free meals, so save food costs, must be worth at least £20 a month again. Also means I get meals out and drinks so feel less inclined to buy these myself.

sequoia

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2017, 01:00:37 PM »
My old job includes flying to NorthWest area several times a year. I racked up miles and points for hotels quickly - I took the same airline and stayed in the same hotels for all of my trips.

I took some vacation days after one of the trip, my wife joined me using free ticket from miles, we stayed free in hotel using points. All we spent was food and rental car. Good times!

HogFin

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 05:29:24 AM »
I work in consulting and our "busy season" is Late August through mid December.  During this time if we're in the office more than 10 hours per day we can expense up to $25 in food with no receipt needed.   Luckily two minutes from my office is a very cheap grocery store (Market Basket for those of you also in the northeast US).

So typically during lunch i'll go to the store, pick up enough food for lunch, dinner, and sometimes extras all for under the $25 cap.  I also don't eat breakfast ... LeanGains Intermittent Fasting FTW.

At this point aside from the occasional weekend meals that i haven't had leftovers for... I haven't had a grocery bill since the first week of September :)

anadyne

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 09:20:04 AM »
*The ability to apply for grants and travel for free. I work the academic calendar, which for me works out to 7 months on/5 months off per year (broken up into 3.5 on, 1.5 off - 3.5 on, 3.5 off) Every year I come up with an idea of something to do in another country for the 3.5 months I have off in the summer, I write a proposal for it, and so far I've gotten them all funded. I target private foundation money, or our university's internal grant systems for fostering collaboration, professional development, international collaboration, etc.   

*Unlimited free undergraduate classes, and 90% off graduate level classes. I've taken tech writing, nonfiction writing, a few business type classes, etc.   [I should definitely turn this into an opportunity for gaining skills for a side gig. Can't think of how though! Any ideas???]

*A $300/year gym subsidy (pays for planet fitness at least!)   

*Complimentary chair massages every Friday in our library!! When I found out about these I was practically tackling people to be first in line.   

*Oh, also we can donate our sick leave to someone in need. Since I only donate to two very specific charities by direct donation of money, I feel really good about donating my sick leave to those in need as a way of doing something positive and charitable with my resources other than cash.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 09:22:30 AM by anadyne »

jorjor

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 10:27:04 AM »
I work in consulting and our "busy season" is Late August through mid December.  During this time if we're in the office more than 10 hours per day we can expense up to $25 in food with no receipt needed.   Luckily two minutes from my office is a very cheap grocery store (Market Basket for those of you also in the northeast US).

Ours is February through April. If we're still around for dinner we have the same thing re: expensing dinner. We never had a grocery store nearby, but a Whole Foods is opening up close which is a game changer. Not exactly a cheap grocery store, but better than restaurant delivery.

Of course, now with a little one at home I'm going to avoid being in the office to take advantage of that as much as possible.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2017, 11:06:21 AM »
We also have things like free financial planning, $200 in health rewards for simple things like getting bloodwork done, office supplies reimbursement, tuition reimbursement, byod (use your own cell phone and get reimbursed), etc.

Most colleagues don't know about any of these, it's worth investigating your work perks!

Imma

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Re: Leveraging work perks
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2017, 01:59:30 PM »
I get absolutely zero perks. I had no idea so many people got them! My employer doesn't contribute to my pension, I bring my own coffee, I don't think there's a staff discount on the products we sell either (although I haven't asked because I don't need them). My s/o used to get a discount on our internet connection, but we don't even get that anymore. His employer doesn't contribute to his pension either, but they are slightly more generous than mine is. They have a water cooler, free coffee and tea, and every now and then he gets a small token of appreciation when his team has met a deadline or a target: a bar of chocolate, a Ä10 gift card, etc. There's also a bonus scheme for hitting targets, but they have scaled it back massively. He used to be able to earn about 10% extra income through the bonus scheme.

The only perk I can imagine at work is that sometimes I get to take mail to the post office. We don't actually have post offices anymore in this country, the postal service is privatized and they have drop-off points in shops now. I always take the mail to the drop-off point in a chain store with a rewards scheme so I get the points. But that happens only a few times a year.