If you need extra money, you may have considered some extreme measures, such as racking up credit card debt or tapping into your retirement account.
Yet have you thought about how you can access cash through your job?
There are ways to cut costs and bring in more money that may be right under your nose. It may be in the form of employer benefits, money saved by telecommuting or even asking for more pay — yes, even in this environment.
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“Employers are definitely hesitant to give raises or promotions now,” said Olivia Jaras, founder of Salary Coaching for Women, based in Hanover, New Hampshire.
However, she said she knows of several dozen people who have gotten promoted along with pay raises during the pandemic.
It’s all about how you pitch it.
First, take your pre-Covid-19 job description and evaluate how your position has changed since.
“You have probably taken on way, way more responsibilities,” said Jaras, author of “Know Your Worth, Get Your Worth” and host of the podcast, Her Career Talk.
Take a “red marker” to that job description and underline everything that has changed and note how you have “stepped up your game during these uncertain times,” she said.
Then, do some market research to understand what your experience is worth in today’s market. “Odds are it is more than you are getting paid,” she said.
Yet don’t just go in and ask for more money. Instead, position it as a meeting to talk about your career progression at the company. If your boss says ‘no,’ citing the current environment, accept and acknowledge it. Then, ask what you can do to help grow the company or solve a problem the company is facing.
This tactic has even worked in industries that have been decimated by the pandemic, she said.
In a recent Her Career Talk podcast, restaurant worker Valerie Angwin said she used the above approach and was told that the company needed to figure out ways to make money. She went on to reinvent the entire catering department, which revitalized the company and led to her getting a 10% salary increase and promotion, Jaras said.
If you are in a position where you have lost responsibility, talk to your boss about how you can take on more, which may eventually lead to a raise, she suggested.
If you have been working from home due to the pandemic, you are already saving money. The average person can save about $4,000 a year by working remotely, according to FlexJobs.
For one, you aren’t doling out money for your commute. Americans spend about $2,000 to $5,000 on their daily commutes each year, according to HowMuch.net, which analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Census Bureau.
You also aren’t buying lunch every,day or stopping at the coffee shop on your way into work or for a mid-afternoon break. So if you are spending $10 a day on lunch, that adds up to $50 a week. If you take two weeks of vacation a year and go to work the other 50 weeks, that adds up to $2,500 a year.
Then there are clothes. Right now, they are sitting in your closet. If you aren’t wearing them, you don’t have to pay for dry cleaning costs. In 2018, the average household spent $1,866 a year on buying clothes and keeping them clean, FlexJobs found.
To continue reaping those savings, consider making the case to continue remote work after your office opens back up. Illustrate how you can stay successfully connected and remain an active part of the team, said Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs
Be prepared to discuss how productive you’ve been while working from home, including how you were efficient with your time and your increased productivity and the ability to do your job better because of the flexible hours, she said.
Take advantage of benefits
Chances are you may not be maximizing your workplace benefits.
The average employee spends only 17 minutes electing their benefits, according to Businessolver, a business administration company.
Yet the amount of choices given to employees has increased tremendously, said Andrew Frend, senior vice president of strategy and products at Voya Employee Benefits.
“With that choice overload comes a lot of complexity,” he said. “You are not going to understand all of the benefit options given how complex it is and how much time is spent on it.”
For one, Frend believes health savings accounts, available to those with high-deductible health-care plans, are “incredibly misunderstood” and could be a good source for some extra cash.
The account, in which you contribute money pre-tax, can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. The savings grow tax-free and your withdrawals generally aren’t taxed.
HSAs can be confused with flexible spending accounts, which also allow you to contribute money pre-tax for qualified medical expenses. Yet they are different, namely in that you can roll over the amount in your HSA from one year to the next, and even build up savings for medical expenses in retirement. In flex accounts, you generally have until the end of the calendar year to use the funds.
“If you have paid for HSA-qualified expenses out of pocket in prior years and have a record, you can access that money now, as there is no time limit on when you can use HSA money for those qualified expenses,” Frend noted.
You just have to be enrolled in your HSA when the costs were incurred.
Another option for those with high deductibles is to get supplemental health benefits, which many employers are offering now. That includes things like accident, critical illness and personal indemnity coverage, Frend said.
Expect to pay about $150 to $250 per year, per policy.
While you’ll be spending more money on top of your traditional plan, it could be a lifesaver. Frend was able to use his supplemental coverage to pay for his seven-year-old’s broken shoulder, which saved him thousands of dollars in medical fees.
“These emergency things that come up, health care is the most predominant one,” he said.
“More than half of bankruptcies in the U.S. are a result of health-care expenses.”
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