How many places have you worked? Did you have a clear understanding of the benefits before you accepted each job? If I had to wager a guess, I would say that many of you knew what your starting salary would be, you knew if there was a 401(k) match, and if you have a family, you most likely asked if there was health insurance provided, but that was the full extent of your knowledge.
If you are considering a company change, be sure that you gain an understanding of as many benefits as possible. After all, it could mean a $20,000 difference in your salary.
My Company Change
I wish I could tell you that I dug into every detail before accepting the job with my current place of employment, but quite frankly, I just got lucky.
My first real job was with a company in Florida in 2009. With the economic collapse taking place, I wasn’t very interested in benefits, I was just happy to have a job after college. There was no 401(k) match, no bonuses, and the insurance premiums were incredibly high.
I decided to look for work elsewhere, not because of the benefits, but because I wanted to move near my family again. Thankfully though, I struck gold with the benefits and learned how important they can be.
Benefits I Experienced and That You Should Ask About
1) 401(k) Contributions – Many of you already make a point to ask about this benefit, but there can be so much more that is contributed than the standard match. My company matches 100% of a 3% contribution, but also gives 4% just because, and then provides a bonus contribution in the 401(k) as well. This typically totals 10% of my salary each year and it all goes into my 401(k). So, don’t just ask about the match, see if there are other contributions as well.
2) Education – Find out if your new company will pay for further education. We all know that it is important to stay educated, and if you want to stay relevant in your work, you will need to take classes. Obviously it is best if your company pays for your education.
3) Health Insurance – Try to get an idea of the cost for you and your family. Many times a company will provide a help guide for picking out insurance on your first day. Ask if you can scan the book prior to accepting your position.
4) Product Discount – Your new job either produces a product or provides a service. More than likely, you will be purchasing a product similar to your company’s in the future. Find out if there is a discount.
5) Car Purchase Aid – Some companies provide cars for their employees. If you are expected to be on the road a lot, find out what your options are. If you need to drive your own vehicle, find out what the reimbursement amount is.
6) Exercise Facility – Does your employer provide a place where you can exercise? And if not, will they pay for a membership elsewhere? Some companies make a point to provide these facilities because healthy employees reduce the cost of insurance. It’s a great perk that will help you save money and live longer.
7) Free Lunch and Beverages – Some companies provide a lunch for their employees, free of charge. This doesn’t happen all too often anymore, but at least find out if there is free coffee to keep you going.
8) Environmental Reimbursements – My employer tries to encourage people to drive a fuel-efficient car and to ride their bikes to work. For the car, they will reimburse you $500 if your car gets better than 35mpg on the highway, and they will pay the first $100 of your bicycle.
There are many other benefits that could be mentioned, but the point is not to list them all. The real point of this exercise is to start adding up these dollar figures in your head.
- Last year I decided to go back to school for my MBA. The yearly cost of class is about $10,000 – none of which do I have to pay.
- My employer puts over $6,000 into my 401(k) with no real effort on my part other than contributing a mere 3% myself.
- My insurance costs are $2,000 less when compared to my previous company
With just three benefits, I am earning $18,000 than my previous job. Believe me, it pays to ask about the benefits.
Image by Sean MacEntee / flickr