We would all like to make more money at our jobs. But in this tough economy -- where, according to Statistics Canada, there are 3.3 unemployed people in Canada for every job vacancy -- raises are rare, and sometimes nonexistent.
So instead of focusing on increasing our income, we need to start looking beyond our salaries to see what our employee benefits packages can do for us. Once you fully understand what your benefits package provides, you might be surprised at how much money you’re leaving on the table each year. Here are some common incentives in an employee benefits package.
Educational training â€¨Even if it isn’t stated in the company handbook, most companies and departments have a yearly training budget for employees. This can be utilized to take courses to help you improve on a skill, or go toward a diploma or degree program you’ve wanted to take in your spare time.
Health benefits â€¨Medical and health benefits usually confuse people. There are deductibles and maximums to be aware of, as well as what is covered. Some benefits plans will cover certain prescriptions, while others won’t. Some will cover chiropractor and acupuncture, and others will only cover a percentage of your treatment. Make a point to understand your plan.
Health spending accountâ€¨ Within your medical benefits, there is sometimes an amount you can draw from -- usually between $200 and $500 each year -- in order to pay for expenses that aren’t covered with the benefits package. For example, if your benefits cover 80 per cent of your prescription coverage and 75 per cent of massage therapy appointments, you could claim the additional out-of-pocket expenses and draw from your Health Spending Account. Some Health Spending Accounts even let you use the money for fitness memberships and gear -- so that nice yoga mat you've been looking at might be within reach.
RSP matching â€¨If your company offers to match your RSP contribution, you need to be utilizing it immediately -- otherwise, you’re just throwing away free money. Let's say you make $50,000 at your job and your company matches up to 3 per cent of your annual salary. If you put $1,500 (3 per cent of $50,000) into an RSP, your employer will match that amount by contributing $1,500 into your RSP as well.
Employee discountsâ€¨ You might be surprised at what kinds of discounts your company offers, and not just on its own products. If your employer is part of an umbrella corporation, or is partnered with other companies, you could receive deep discounts on anything from hotel stays and car rentals, to clothing and shoes.
Ask questions â€¨If you need an explanation on what you are covered for, ask your Human Resources department, or contact the company your coverage is with. It’s always better to get clarification and confirmation on what is and isn’t covered. Remember that some benefits programs will automatically deduct the cost of prescriptions, dental visits and medical procedures up front, and some companies will require you to pay first and wait for a reimbursement cheque. Make sure you know exactly how much money you need to put down, so there are no surprises.
Your salary and vacation time are a part of your employee compensation package, but so are your extended benefits. It might seem like an arduous task to try and understand what you are covered for. But by not taking advantage of what you have, you are potentially losing out on hundreds of dollars in savings each year.
The best and brightest from the world of television and movies turned out for the 74th Golden Globe Awards—and the right carpet was on fire. Here are our top 10 looks from the event.
Emma Stone in Valentino
Emma StoneImage by: Getty Images
You know how they say dress for the job you want? Well, this gown is literarily star-studded. Emma Stone is no stranger to owning the red carpet, and it looks like the 2017 red carpet season is no exception. Nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her role of Mia, an aspiring actress, in La La Land. Stone looked dazzling in a backless, blush Valentino gown with beaded stars strewn across the delicate flowing frock. The elaborate dress didn’t need much help in terms of accessories, yet a statement diamond-encrusted choker from Tiffany & Co was added. A brilliant addition.
Drew Barrymore in Monique Lhuillier
Drew BarrymoreImage by: Getty Images
The 41-year-old actress was a brilliant vision on the red carpet in a shimmery floor-length gown while attending and presenting at the the 2017 Golden Globe Awards. The romantic gown with delicate art deco detailing is Monique Lhuillier while her sparkling jewellery was Harry Winston. What we loved about Barrymore’s look was the overall styling, she opted for flowing beachy waves rather than something more predictable and polish, well played!
Tracee Ellis Ross in Zuhair Murad
Tracee Ellis RossImage by: Getty Images
Ellis Ross won her first Golden Globe at the age of 44 for Best Actress in a TV Musical/Comedy for her role in Blackish and she took to the stage welling up at the accomplishment, while giving viewers a beautiful acceptance speech. The star also won on the red carpet, wearing a silver Zuhair Murad dress from the designer's spring 2016 couture collection and a pair of matching sparkly pumps by Christian Louboutin. One of our favourite parts of her look was the stacked diamond rings… on each finger! The unexpected statement jewellery was edgy, daring and oh-so-glamorous—the risk totally paid off.
Sienna Miller in Michael Kors
Sienna MillerImage by: Getty Images
Sienna Miller proves that sometimes simple is best. In a sleek white Michael Kors gown with cut-out details, Miller embraced lady-like elegance with a twist. She wore the dress with a simple string of pearls and a low-maintenance ponytail—and she looked radiant.
Millie Bobby Brown in Jenny Packham
Millie Bobby BrownImage by: Getty Images
Millie Bobby Brown is only twelve—though you’d never guess it from her poise and class on the red carpet. We are glad the Stranger Things star chose a dress well-suited to her age though. This sparkly Jenny Packham frock is fun and vibrant. Perfect for a star on the rise.
Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton
Michelle WilliamsImage by: Getty Images
Williams, who is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in Manchester by the Sea. This is her fourth Golden Globe nomination and if Williams wins tonight, it will be her second Golden Globe win. She first took home a Globe at the 2011 awards show for playing Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn. Williams looked like a vision in a fitted white strapless Louis Vuitton column gown and a chic petite black bow choker. We also loved her fresh platinum hair and delicate and fresh makeup.
Natalie Portman in Prada
Natalie PortmanImage by: Getty Images
Tonight, at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, a pregnant Natalie Portman arrived with a coveted Best Actress nomination for her performance of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Jackie. For the red carpet occasion, Portman channeled Kennedy Onassis with a modern take on the former first lady’s iconic bouffant, classic makeup and wore a dress similar to a yellow frock that she once wore to the Metropolitan Opera House in 1975. Portman’s sunny gown was from Prada, while she grounded the look with Jimmy Choo shoes and was dripping in Tiffany & Co. jewellery.
Olivia Culpo in Zuhair Murad Couture
Olivia CulpoImage by: Getty Images
One of the more dramatic looks on the red carpet, Olivia Culpo embraces intricate embroidery and a bit of the dark side with this Zuhair Murad Couture pick. We love the full skirt and interesting neckline. She definitely stood out—in the best way.
Felicity Jones in Gucci
Felicity JonesImage by: Getty Images
Felicity Jones' big year (starring in a Star Wars movie will do that) has led this actor to be in the spotlight a lot more—and we like what we see. Her pick for the Golden Globes was a stunning pink Gucci dress. She wisely pulled back her hair and kept her makeup simple—this dress is the star of this look, but it doesn't overwhelm Jones. Instead she looks elegant and at ease—no easy feat when you're wearing a bubblegum pink gown.
Laura Dern in Burberry
Laura DernImage by: Getty Images
Laura Dern looked fantastic in this floral, floor-length number by Burberry as she presented at the Golden Globes. The simple column gown with plunging neckline was made special by the beautiful print and Dern's hair and subtle jewellery let this dress shine.
We asked some of Canada's top celebrity designers to spill the beans on their best-kept design secrets—and did they ever! Read on for expert advice on everything from space planning and choosing paint colours to styling shelves and how to create a foolproof gallery wall.
The inside scoop on space planning
How much space do you need around your dining room table? Can you really make a room feel larger? Our experts weigh in.
Tip 1: Sofas should be two-thirds the length of the longest wall, and seating is placed close enough around so no person is more than eight feet from another to allow for easy conversation. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 2: One easy rule to figure out what size dining table you need: allow for a minimum of 30 inches walking clearance on all sides. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Space planning is critical. For a kitchen island, for example, leave three feet of space between the island and surrounding counters. Ensure that appliances (like the fridge or dishwasher) can open without blocking traffic flow or hitting neighbouring walls or cabinets. Not leaving enough room is a mistake people make all the time, before they call a designer in a panic to help fix it! — Lisa Canning
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 4: Use mirrors strategically to expand space and increase the amount of natural light reflected in the room. Framing a wall with floor-to-ceiling mirrors adds a dramatic effect to the feeling and scale of the room. — Brian Gluckstein
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 5: Allow for 18 inches between the sofa and the coffee table so people have enough room to pass by and to make it easy to reach for drinks or food. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 6: Want to make sure furniture fits before it arrives at your door? There are a host of free sites (like planyourroom.com) that allow you to put furniture onto a scaled floor plan. Another option? Many furniture and decor stores offer free design services, and they'll do the calculating for you. — Janette Ewen
Light it up
Follow these five rules and your lights will shine in all the right ways.
Tip 2: Install dimmer switches; they're a practical way to control light and energy consumption. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 3: The bottom of the shade of your bedside reading lamp should be at shoulder height when sitting in bed. Do the math! — Karl Lohnes
Tip 4: Choose a pendant or chandelier that's one-third the size of the table or kitchen island. Hang it approximately 30 to 36 inches above the table or island; if there are more than one, place them 12 to 18 inches apart. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Incandescent bulbs are great for atmosphere lighting, but LED bulbs are more suited to task lighting, when you really need to see what you're working on. — Janette Ewen
The inside scoop on paint and palette
Did you know that paint selection should be one of the last decisions you make when decorating a room?
Tip 1: I'm a firm believer in mood boards. They're not just for designers! Gather together fabrics, paint samples and inspiration images for a room before starting. It will create a picture and a trajectory that you may not have thought of. — Steven Sabados
Tip 2: When you design a room, pull your palette from one inspiration fabric. Whether you use a whimsical print or a more traditional pattern, take all the colours present in that material and allow those to guide fabric selection for pillows, throws, drapery and upholstery in the room. Take that same fabric to the paint store and have a custom colour mixed that matches one of the hues exactly. — Lisa Canning
Tip 4: Fine finish Choose a fresh trim colour in a semigloss, such as Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace OC-65. It creates a subtle separation from a matte wall, and it's a much more durable finish, which comes in handy since trims are usually the most touched, bumped and scuffed parts of our homes. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Colour pop If you buy that cool orange statement chair, give it a buddy. When you're adding a colourful piece to a space, always have at least one other subtle hit of that colour elsewhere in the room to create a cohesive feel. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 6: Want to make a room feel taller? Paint baseboards and crown moulding the same colour as the walls. Want it to feel huge? mix one-third of the wall colour into the ceiling paint. — Karl Lohnes
The inside scoop on styling
You've bought the sofa and painted the walls. Now what? Our experts show you how to style a room like a pro.
Tip 1: Shop at stores that have liberal return policies and buy three times as much as you think you need. This gives you plenty of merchandise to play with to see what works and what does not. Mix in unique family heirlooms and vintage finds with the new pieces you purchase to create a naturally curated look. — Janette Ewen
Photography by Magdalena M
Tip 2: For a no-fail pillow combination, you need only three: one 20- by 20-inch, one 16- by 16-inch and one 12- by 16-inch. Those sizes look good together no matter how you arrange them! — Jo Alcorn
Tip 3: Beauty is in the details When styling a console, include framed art on easels or leaning against the wall; it's a great way to display smaller pieces. Create a dynamic vignette by mixing in boxes, vases and vintage pieces in differing heights and dimensions. — Brian Gluckenstein
Tip 4: Mix and match Use these common elements when styling shelves: stacks of books, gorgeous flowers and at least one accessory that has a lot of shimmer and shine. Varying heights and textures is also really important for visual interest. — Lisa Canning
The inside scoop on art
Take the mystery out of hanging art.
Tip 1: Make your own art! Buy a canvas in a size you're looking for, then grab some paint in the colours you're decorating with, and see what happens. Great masterpieces are born of happy accidents or beautiful mistakes. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 2: When hanging art on an empty wall, the middle of the art should to be hung 66 to 72 inches off the floor. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Art relates to furniture, not the ceiling: Keep art about six to eight inches above the sofa, or any piece of furniture, when hanging it. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Tip 4: For a gallery wall, use different-size frames in one single finish and select artwork with a consistent theme in colour or subject matter to keep the display cohesive. — Brian Gluckenstein
Each year, top designers and brands showcase the best in innovative and inspiring design from around the world at The Interior Design Show in Toronto. We’ve picked our top Canadian designers that you may not have heard of yet, but should.
Dainty and flavourful, everyone loves to indulge in tiny bites of traditional tea sandwiches. Though they appear finicky to make, these tea sandwiches are easy to assemble and entirely make-ahead.
Pinwheel Sandwiches Trim crusts from 5 slices white or whole wheat sandwich loaf, cut Pullman-style. (Ask bakery to cut sandwich loaf horizontally, or Pullman style.) Using rolling pin, flatten slices slightly. Spread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread with filling.
Place 1 asparagus spear (or 2 baby gherkins) along 1 short end of each. Starting at asparagus, roll up tightly without squeezing. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. With serrated knife, trim ends; cut each roll into 6 slices.
Makes 30 pieces. Pinwheel Sandwich recipe: Curried Egg Salad Triangle Sandwiches Spread 16 thin slices whole wheat or white sandwich bread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread filling evenly over 8 of the slices. Top with remaining slices, pressing lightly. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cover with damp tea towel; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Trim off crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
Makes 32 pieces. Triangle Sandwich recipe: Ham Pickle Spread Square Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above except use 8 thin slices white and 8 thin slices whole wheat sandwich bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters.
Makes 32 pieces.Square Sandwich recipe: Pimiento Cheese Spread Finger Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above. Cut each sandwich lengthwise into 4 fingers.
Makes 32 pieces. Finger Sandwich recipe: Tuna Olive Salad
Choose the best-quality bread. Never serve end slices. Freezing bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.
Bread should be lightly buttered no matter what the filling. Butter should be at room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches will not become limp and soggy as readily if you spread butter right to edge of bread.
Cut crusts off bread with long, sharp knife after (not before) assembling sandwiches. This keeps everything neater.
Since tea sandwiches should be delicate, cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally. Or use cookie cutters to cut into decorative shapes.