Over the years I have learned a great deal about the importance of knowing the rules in life (not all the rules, and I am by no definition an expert). What kind of rules? Mostly rules in systems that directly affect me, like my health insurance(s), dental insurance, rules for banking, etc., etc.,.
The first time, was figuring out that my Health Insurance with my employer (at the time) would actually pay for private testing for my children (to determine whether they were gifted and/or if they had learning disabilities). What looked to be a very expensive bill (well over $1500 at the time), ended up only costing me around $100 or so. I must admit that I did not actually figure this out, the Psychologist we were dealing with already knew “how the game was played” and simply let my wife and I in on the rules.
Knowing the rules of the game, is the single most important thing to learn, no matter what game you are playing. Michael James is also known as Mr. Rules, but it has served him well in his life (being a Mathematician it seems to come to him naturally), and knowing the rules will help you make sure you are compensated by “the system” (even when you think it is just not going to happen).
No, I am not espousing going out and finding a Shyster Lawyer to try to skirt the tax laws (good God, I am not saying that, and anyone who is thinking that I will personally spank with a cricket mallet), Â but I am saying you should find out how the rules to all benefits packages work and how you can take advantage of them.
What kind of things am I talking about? Here are some simple examples to go with my testing example:
- If your benefits cover glasses, find out how often and when the time frame deadlines are. One year I ended up buying two sets of glasses in two months, because they straddled two different time frames (at the time I was compensated for one set of glasses every two years). Line this up correctly and you get two sets of glasses covered in less than a month.
- There are thousands of bursaries and programs for University and College students, that aren’t given out some years, because no one applies (sometimes it is because there are no actual candidates, but sometimes it is due to candidates not applying). My daughters basketball club gives out a bursary at the end of the year for graduating players, more than one year no one applied for it (guess they didn’t want free money).
- My daughter’s have learning disabilities (which I got tested for cheap) however because of these learning disabilities they also received bursaries from OSAP and their schools (and dispensations for writing exams as well), however, we didn’t really think about this until we looked and saw what is available to folks with learning disabilities.
Know the rules, understand the rules and if you can use them to your advantage (in a legal and above-board way) then do so (don’t be shady, ask first if you are unsure, it may be that no one has tried before, the worst thing they can say is, “no”).
BCM, great post. Some random thoughts on your blog.
Those who know the rules are usually quashed by those that make the rules.
As an employer who pays for benefits, on the plus side it is great when you can use a plan for something as important as your daughters testing, on the downside, people like you that claim all they are entitled to, raise the cost of my plan. Just saying.
I had to laugh at your unclaimed basketball club bursary. When my son was starting University and applying for the various scholarships and bursaries, it seemed like unless you had six fingers and took Mayan studies in Manitoba while sitting backwards facing your class and were a Canadiens fan working as the stick boy for the Maple Leafs, you did not qualify for anything. Yes, there may be some bursaries unclaimed, but the restrictions on many of these scholarships are so restrictive, it is ridiculous.
It is sad the rules become so complicated that people often make a living out of interpreting those rules for others. Opps, scratch that one, or else I will be unemployed 🙂
Agreed on the tests claiming, but then again, it was Nortel, and they were self-insuring at the time, so I view it as small payment for the overtime I worked for them (unpaid).
Yes, many scholarships and bursaries have many (MANY) rules around them, but it never hurts to spend an hour or two looking, you might be surprised. Sometimes employers give out bursaries to the children of employees too (maybe a benefit you should be thinking about, just replying 🙂 ).
As for the rules, I believe the first rule was made up by an accountant (OK the BIG accountant in the Sky, but still, he (or she) does seem to have a Balance Sheet for everyone).