Salary Is Just One Piece Of The Pie

In the early stages of your career, salary is among the highest reasons for leaving or staying to climb the corporate ladder. However, as you start to get older and wiser, you understand that salary is only one part of the compensation puzzle. Salary is important, but when you compute other benefits into your compensation you may need to break it down a little more. 

1. Health Insurance

Nowadays it 's hard to find a company that will cover all of your health insurance costs. With healthcare laws in place, most employers have to offer it, but that doesn't mean they pay for it. So, if your company does pay for your health insurance benefits on top of your salary consider yourself making up to 5-8K more per year. Because without your company paying your health insurance benefits you are looking at a premium of up to $600 a month for a single plan depending on your demographics. If you need a family plan you can shell out over a thousand dollars each month.

2. Matching 401k Plans

This is another compensation benefit that isn't found too often, but it is crucial to your retirement funds. Depending on your tenure with a company, most will match your contributions up to a certain percentage. Based on your contribution level, you can look to expand your retirement by 2-8% more per year, which in time adds up. 

3. Paid Time Off and Sick Leave

Most companies give their full-time employees flexible paid time off (PTO) days, and with many of these companies, there is a no rollover policy. Which means you are getting paid each year to take a vacation whether it be on the beach, in the mountains, or sitting at home -- they will pay you to do so which means you need to take advantage of this.

4. Tuition Reimbursement

A lot of companies are looking at their employees and fostering them from the ground up, which means for you that they may be willing to help you finish your bachelor degree, get your masters degree, or help with certifications. Whatever the case may be, if they can benefit from you gaining higher education, most companies will invest in that, which means you receive additional funds throughout the year to help with your education.

5. The Little Things That Add Up

If you work at a larger corporation that can leverage their employee base with local businesses you may be able to gain valuable discounts such as phone, health clubs, restaurants, and even leisure activities like theme parks and the movie theater, which means you are saving money here and there with everyday activities. 

6. Childcare Discounts

If you live in a large metropolitan area, you already know how expensive childcare is. For most, it is another mortgage payment. By working at a corporation that has worked with reputable child care organizations in your town,  you could save hundreds per month. This can add up to tens of thousands over the course of five years before kindergarten.

When it comes to looking at your career as a whole, it is important to remember compensation is not just salary. Let's break it down just a little bit using Lauren. Lauren has is a nurse, and she makes 63,000 a year. However, her company matches her 401k up to 3,000 a year which she takes advantage of. There are corporate phone discounts that save her $40 per month for a total of $480 a year, as well as a 50/50 split for her gym membership which saves her $360 a year. Her company pays her full health benefit which is $625 a month, and she utilizes a 20% discount for childcare saving her $2,640 per year. Lauren is also a part of the companies bonus structure for exceptional care and customer experience, she can be compensated on a quarterly basis, and last year she pocketed $850.

Base Salary: 63,000
401K Contribution: 3,000
Health Insurance: 7,500
Bonus: 850

Total Compensation Package: $74,350

Savings on everyday purchases:

Phone Savings: 480
Gym Membership: 360
Childcare Savings: 2640

Total out of pocket savings: $3480

It's all in the details, and with some of these items, you can negotiate better than base salary. Some of the easiest ways to discussion compensation is through paid time off and bonuses