6 work benefits you're overlooking that could save you thousands

Employee benefits can be confusing, complex, and not fun to talk about.

As a result, they’re often overlooked or ignored — but if you’re not taking full advantage of your benefits, you’re leaving money on the table.

Many employers have a three-week long open enrollment period — generally in the fall — in which many of these benefits are available to select, so it’s important to be aware of your company’s enrollment window.

(This is different from the open enrollment period offered by HealthCare.gov).

“These three weeks are when employees make some of the biggest purchasing decisions of the year,” says Britta Meyer, CMO at consumer-directed benefits administrator WageWorks. “But what we’re finding is that people are not paying attention. People are spending more time planning vacations or holiday shopping than they are selecting benefits that are affecting themselves and their families for the entire next year.”

It’s worth it to put in research and talk to your human resources department to understand the scope of what’s available to you.

Start by taking the time to look into these six underutilized, yet incredibly valuable, benefits that could save you thousands of dollars each year:

This article was written by Business Insider without the involvement of Merrill Lynch.

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Your healthcare FSA would cover things like acupuncture.

2. Healthcare flexible spending account (FSA)

A healthcare flexible spending account is a pre-tax benefit account you can use to cover a variety of healthcare products and services, from acupuncture and physical therapy to vaccines and over-the-counter medicine (see the full list of eligible expenses).

You can put up to $US2,550 of tax-free money into this account in 2015, and save about 30% on healthcare expenses with the tax break, WageWorks reports.

Note that if you leave your job, any money leftover in your FSA stays with your employer. Also, if you don't spend all of the money you contributed at the beginning of the year, you can only carry over up to $US500 at the end of the year, so it's important to choose your annual contribution carefully.

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Commuter benefits will help you save on public transportation.

5. Commuter benefit account

Commuter benefits are often overlooked, but they can save you over $US600 each year, WageWorks tells the Wall Street Journal.

The concept is simple: Employees can use pre-tax money from their paychecks to cover mass-transit passes -- including the train, subway, bus, and ferry -- and parking.

You can set aside a maximum of $US130 a month for public transportation and up to $US250 for parking.

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Check to see if your company offers gym discounts.

6. Fitness reimbursement program

Depending on your employer, you could receive reimbursements for many common health related expenses, such as gym membership fees, fitness classes, or sports league teams.

While you're looking into fitness reimbursements, check out other expenses your company may reimburse, such as cell phone plans, moving costs, or professional development classes.

This article was written by Business Insider without the involvement of Merrill Lynch.

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