As the year draws to a close and the holiday season approaches, it’s an opportune time for employees to review and maximize their end-of-year benefits. This period is often hectic, with holiday preparations and celebrations taking center stage, but neglecting the valuable benefits available before the year’s end could mean missing out on significant advantages. Let’s explore how employees can make the most of their end-of-year benefits during this festive season.
Review Remaining Benefits
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
For those with FSAs, it’s crucial to check the remaining balance. FSAs are typically “use it or lose it” accounts, meaning any unspent funds may be forfeited at the end of the year. Consider scheduling last-minute medical appointments, vision or dental check-ups, or purchasing eligible items like prescription glasses or certain over-the-counter medications.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Unlike FSAs, HSA funds roll over year to year. However, the end of the year is still a good time to contribute if you haven’t reached the annual limit. These contributions are tax-deductible, reducing your taxable income.
Paid Time Off (PTO)
Check your PTO balance. Some companies have a policy where unused PTO doesn’t roll over to the next year, or there may be a cap on how much can roll over. If possible, plan to use your PTO for a well-deserved break or to extend your holiday season.
Maximizing Retirement Benefits
If you haven’t maxed out your 401(k) contributions for the year, consider increasing your contribution for the remaining pay periods. Contributions to a 401(k) are tax-deferred, so increasing them can also lower your taxable income.
Retirement Plan Review
The end of the year is a great time to review your retirement plans. Assess your investment allocations and consider rebalancing if necessary. It’s also an opportune time to set goals for the next year.
Utilizing Wellness and Professional Development Benefits
Many employers offer wellness and professional development benefits that often go unused.
- Wellness Programs: Participate in any available wellness programs, which may include fitness challenges, mental health resources, or health screenings.
- Professional Development: Use any remaining professional development funds for courses or certifications that can enhance your skills.
Health Insurance and Open Enrollment
The end of the year often coincides with open enrollment periods for health insurance.
- Review Plan Changes: Be aware of any changes in your health insurance plan and how they might affect you.
- Consider Plan Options: Evaluate whether your current health plan still meets your needs or if switching plans during open enrollment is beneficial.
Giving and Volunteering
The holiday season is also a time of giving. Many companies offer matching gift programs or opportunities for volunteer work.
- Charitable Contributions: Make charitable donations before the year’s end to take advantage of any employer matching programs.
- Volunteering: Participate in employer-sponsored volunteer events to give back to the community during the holidays.
Conclusion: A Season of Reflection and Opportunity
The end of the year is not just a season of festivity; it’s also a crucial time for employees to take stock of and utilize their available benefits. From FSAs to retirement plans, there are numerous opportunities to maximize benefits before the year ends. By taking these steps, employees can not only enjoy a happier holiday season but also set themselves up for financial and personal well-being in the year ahead.