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Understanding job benefits

Health insurance, retirement, and tuition reimbursement

Now that youíve landed your first career job, itís time to sit back, relax andÖ..read up on your employee benefits? When you are young and invincible, or at least think youíre invincible, the last thing you probably have on your mind is health insurance, retirement and other benefits that are typically offered by employers.

Before you waive some of the benefits that you donít think you will need until much later, read your benefits package. Some of the benefits that you think can wait until the future will be beneficial today.

Health insurance
Until you get out of college and start your own life, you probably never had to worry about health insurance. If you got hurt, your parents had insurance that took care of everything. Now that youíre on your own, health insurance can be your best friend if you have it, or your worst nightmare if you donít. Even if you donít have to visit the emergency room or have a lengthy hospital stay, just visiting the doctor without insurance can cost you hundreds of dollars.

Make sure you read your health insurance options. Some employers pay all of your insurance premium, but most often you will be responsible for a certain amount that is deducted from each paycheck. Health benefits also include dental, disability and life insurance. Donít be afraid to ask questions of the Human Resources department if you are uncertain of which options best suit your needs.

Retirement benefits
When you are just beginning your career, retirement might seem like a lifetime away. It is never too late, though, to begin to save for that rainy day when Social Security from the government will probably be a thing of the past.

Many companies offer pre-tax retirement plans in which they will match your contributions. For example, if you deduct $100 from each paycheck towards your retirement fund, your employer will also contribute $100. These retirement plans can also be transferred to other Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) if you leave your company and get another job. With most of these retirement plans, you wonít have to pay income tax on the account until you retire or withdraw money from it.

Tuition reimbursement
Many companies offer tuition reimbursement to employees who want to pursue a post-graduate degree or to finish an undergraduate degree. Programs differ by employer, but many companies offer programs that reimburse employees based on their grades (the better the grades, the more money you receive).

Donít be afraid to ask questions concerning your benefits. If your boss canít answer your questions, a Human Resources or Benefits representative can help.