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Does your employer offer benefits? If so, you may wonder when you should take advantage of them and when you should wait.

(WBIR) Does your employer offer benefits? If so, you may wonder when you should take advantage of them and when you should wait.

Financial planner Chelse Stevens, with Capital Financial Group, said the adage the "sooner the better" applies to most employer benefits, especially health insurance.

Not all employers in Tennessee offer benefits. But if your employer does, be sure to first read information about what's offered. Common benefits include things like health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and retirement savings.

Health insurance

Health insurance is the most important employer benefit. Typically there are two types of plans offered: a high-deductible plan or a co-pay plan. Which option you pick should be based on your health and lifestyle. Younger people may be better suited for a high-deductible plan with a lower monthly premium. Even though this often means less is taken out of your pay check, you could be paying more up-front costs at doctor offices.

To help with these costs, you could open a health-savings account, which you can contribute to before taxes are taken out of your pay check. If you use it for your health expenses, you don't get taxed.

If you have more health issues, you may want to enroll in a co-pay plan.

Life and disability insurance

Some employers also offer free life and disability insurance. For this, all you have to do is click yes. There is also more insurance you can enroll in for an added cost. If you're unhealthy or older, the extra cost would probably be lower, so it's in your favor to pay the extra amount. For younger or healthy people, that extra cost is probably more expensive than if you bought extra insurance on your own.

Retirement savings

Employers can also offer different types of retirement accounts to their employees. The most common is a 401k. Be sure to look at your benefit package to see what type of match is available. If the match is 3 percent of your income, you would definitely want to take advantage of that option. If you put in 3 percent it's really like you're putting in six percent because of the match.

If your employer offers a 403b, it works like a 401k but is an account for non-profits. When it comes to saving for retirement, find which system works for you. You will have options that are less risky or more risky depending on your level of comfort.

Employer doesn't offer benefits?

What if you don't have benefits at work? Not all companies offer employer benefits. If you don't, it's a good idea to set up personal benefits with a financial planner.

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