Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Making the most of your Salary

One of the interesting little perks I get through my work is the ability to purchase gifts vouchers at a discount. Coles, Woolworths, Big W, 5% off. Smiggle, Diva, Toys R Us, 10% off. With no postage costs, I've found it very cost effective each fortnight to order enough vouchers for my groceries & nappies from Coles and Big W.

Interestingly enough though, no-one else that I've spoken to at work takes advantage of this particular perk.

This is not something new to me. There is both a lack of awareness, and a lack of interest, in taking up these offers. One person I spoke to admitted she was just too lazy to bother ordering vouchers every fortnight.

So how well do you know your (or your partners) employee benefits? These days, unemployment rates are so low that employers are doing everything they can to make themselves more attractive to potential candidates.
Some of the benefits I've come across before are:

-Corporate health insurance. Often much cheaper than anything you can arrange for yourself with higher benefits
-Discount Gym memberships
-Discounted parking
-Annual train fares that can be paid off over the course of the year
-Discounted electricals
-Car leasing
-Dollar matching on additional superannuation contributions

Many companies have arrangement that allow you to salary sacrifice the payments towards these items. This reduces your overall taxable income so the impact to your take home pay ends up being less than the cost of the goods, which were often cheaper to start with! Keeping in mind though that fringe benefits tax will still need to be paid and the fringe benefits declared, although in my case my company organises that via my normal salary each fortnight and its all detailed in a little statement that comes with my group certificate.

In addition to the benefits of discounted goods and services, there is also the unexpected side benefit that reducing your overall income has on centrelink family tax benefit payments. While I wouldn't encourage anyone to increase their salary sacrifices purely to influence a centrelink payment, it can sometimes result in a higher family payment if your salary after sacrifices and fringe benefits tax ends up coming down. Definitely look at your own personal circumstances and speak to a professional to understand how you can make the most of your income.

Do you have an interesting employee perk? I'd love to know what else is out there in the market.

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