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By Ben Heinze
Your job is likely your primary source of income; therefore, knowing how to navigate financial matters at your workplace is important for maintaining strong finances. From knowing your rights as an employee to making the most of benefits like a 401K, these workplace financial tips will prepare you to successfully navigate the financial aspects of work.
The U.S. guarantees a variety of rights to employees, many of which are related to compensation. Here are a few issues that commonly arise between employees and their employers. Knowing what the law says helps ensure you receive the full compensation you’ve earned, and it is always smart to consult a labor attorney if one of these situations arises.
Employees in the U.S. largely fall into two categories—hourly and salaried employees. As a salaried employee, you are paid a fixed amount regardless of the hours worked. As an hourly employee, you are paid based on the hours worked.
This means all time worked as an hourly employee must be compensated. Additionally, hourly employees are usually entitled to overtime pay when working beyond 40 hours in a week. Some states have additional laws surrounding paid breaks, which may be required to be given based on how long you work in a given shift.
While many employees are familiar with the minimum wage in their state, things can get complicated for employees regularly receiving tips. This is because many states allow employers to pay tipped employees below the minimum wage, with the expectation that the tips will make up or exceed the difference.
If you are a tipped employee, familiarize yourself with your state’s laws to ensure you are receiving the full minimum wage or above after accounting for tips. If your wage falls below the minimum wage after tips, you are entitled to receive those wages from your employer.
Full-time employees often have access to a benefits package. Knowing how to make the most of your benefits can be very advantageous for your finances. To fully understand your benefits, read over your employee handbook or set up time with someone in your human resources department so that you can fully understand your benefits to ensure you’re making the most out of them.
A 401K is a powerful tool to help you prepare for retirement. With a 401K, you can contribute pre-tax dollars and invest them to help fund your retirement. Many employers also offer a Roth 401K, where you contribute post-tax dollars in exchange for the money growing tax-free. If your employer matches a percentage of your contributions, that gives you a huge instant boost to your contributions. Getting your full employer match is suggested if you’re financially able to contribute the amount to receive it.
If you don’t have a 401K, check to see if you have access to another type of retirement account, such as a 403b if you are a nonprofit employee. Finally, pensions, which offer regular payments in retirement, are far less common today than they used to be but can be very powerful due to the stable post-retirement income they provide.
Navigating insurance options, such as health, dental and vision, offered by your employer can be complex. Here are a few general tips to keep in mind that apply to all types of insurance:
Some employers offer reimbursement programs that can offset costs such as continuing education or fitness. Common reimbursement programs include:
It’s a great idea to periodically review your paystubs to ensure everything is correct, especially if there is a change in your compensation or benefits. While most paystub errors aren’t malicious, mistakes happen. These errors often persist on every paycheck until it’s manually fixed. Double-check that your hours worked, total pay, deductions and taxes all look correct. When in doubt, contact your HR or payroll department. If there is an error, you are entitled to receive any lost wages that resulted from it. Keeping these workplace financial tips in mind, especially when starting a new job, will go a long way to keeping your finances in order. With your job likely making up most of your income, knowing how to navigate these aspects of your workplace is essential to your financial health.
Learn more about financial wellness in the workplace:
Ben Heinze is a marketing content specialist with a passion for financial education. Instilled with a strong sense of frugality from a young age, he views money as a means to building the life you want, rather than an end in itself. From reading Money Mentor, he hopes you discover new ways money can be used to build your ideal life—whatever that may look like.
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