Changing Jobs: It’s About More Than Just Salary

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My wife was recently offered another job. One of the great things about this position was that it paid more than her previous role within the same industry. But as we were debating her acceptance of this position, and discussing the differences between it and her current position, I began to realize that while salary is important, it's not the only consideration when taking a new job.

Health benefits

In this day and age, health benefits -- and the associated cost of such benefits -- can make a huge difference in the attractiveness of a job. The health benefits of the job my wife recently left ran us about $150 a week or nearly $8,000 a year. In her new job, the plan is actually better, and the costs are only $180 a month -- a nearly $6,000 a year savings!

But such savings could be negated by higher co-pays and out-of-pocket costs, so lower premiums aren't necessarily a guarantee of cost savings. However we checked into this and the out-of-pocket for family is also lower by several thousand dollars, which with several children and a type-1 diabetic in the family, certainly could pay off big time.

Location and transportation costs

Location of a job might not seem like a big benefit, but when you start adding up fuel costs, it may actually be one of the bigger benefits. With gasoline in our area of Chicagoland running between $4.25 and $4.50 a gallon, even moving to a job just a few miles closer to home can have the savings adding up.

My wife's new role is about half the distance from our home as her old position. And while this might only save about 12 miles driving distance a day, in an SUV and in stop-and-go city driving, that adds up to almost a gallon of gas less each day. At $4.25 a gallon that's about $750 in the course of a school year (since my wife works in a school district).

Pension plans and unions

I really never thought that either my wife or I would be a part of a union or be eligible for a pension plan. However, in this new role, she is eligible for both. Personally, I'm more excited about the pension plan, since it is actually one of the better funded in Illinois (which may still not be saying much considering the state of the Illinois pension system).

My wife must pay 7 percent of her salary into the system, while also continuing to contribute to Social Security. While this means that over 13 percent of her salary will be going into retirement plan systems -- which is a pretty big chunk -- she can cash out her pension plan contributions if she leaves before becoming eligible for benefits.

I've reviewed the plan, and it appears reasonably generous should she stay at this position long enough, and blows her previous employer-sponsored retirement plan out of the water.

So it's important to remember that when considering a new job, while salary can certainly play an important role, it's not the only factor that can come into play when it comes to benefits and the potential savings of the job.

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The author is not a licensed financial or career professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.

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