Would You Rather Have Better Perks or a Higher Salary?

Many of us wish that we earned more money at our jobs. However, many of us forget about the compensation that can come from the perks of what we do. Money, they tell us, isn’t everything. And in some cases, this really is the truth. Before you bemoan your low pay, consider some of the other perks you might receive from your job. In some cases, the great benefits outweigh the fact that you might not have a huge salary.

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Photo by redjar via Flickr

What Benefits and Perks Come with Your Job?

The first question to ask yourself is what benefits and perks come with your job. One of the biggest benefits in many jobs is the health insurance. If your job offers a great health plan, that can be worth a great deal more than a higher salary. A good health plan is one of the best benefits, since it allows you to get access to affordable health care. I know many people who stick with a lower paying job because the health benefits are so good.

Other perks to consider when you think about your job include:

  • Paid vacation and sick leave: How many paid days off do you get each year? Is there are program to roll unused days over to another year? Can you build up paid days off to a point that allows you to take the vacations you want? Look at the paid vacation and sick leave policies at your work.
  • Unpaid leave: Interestingly, there are those who prefer unpaid leave. Even if you don’t get paid for it, you might want the flexibility that comes with unpaid leave in your company. That flexibility might be worth more than a higher salary.
  • Telecommuting: Some companies offer the flexibility that comes with telecommuting. While some people don’t like spending all their time working from home, isolated from their coworkers, there are those who enjoy working from home — at least two or three days a week. The ability to telecommute can improve job satisfaction and productivity, and help you feel better about a lower salary. Being able to have a little extra flexibility, and avoid a stressful commute to the office, is worth a lot.
  • Flexible hours: What if you could come in a little earlier and leave a little earlier each day? What if your job allowed you to work longer some days, so that you could go home earlier other days. Some jobs allow the option to work four tens, so that every weekend is a three-day weekend. That kind of flexibility is worth a lot more than money to some people.
  • Work you love: In some cases, just doing a job you love is enough to keep you in a job. Feeling like you are doing something useful with your career┬ácan go a long way toward job satisfaction. Many of us like to believe that what we do matters. Being appreciated at work, doing work that helps others, and loving your job can all make up for a lower salary.
  • Other perks and benefits: There are companies that provide gyms, meditation rooms, and good food for their workers. Being able to access these types of perks and benefits can be worth more than a small salary bump. Think about the perks and benefits you receive from your job, and consider whether or not they are worth more than mere money.

Would You Rather Have the Money?

In some cases, though, you might rather have the money. If you don’t like your job, or if the benefits aren’t very good, it might be tempting to ask for a raise. The ability to make a little more money can offset some of the other disappointments associated with some jobs. When you are working 50 hours a week, and have little flexibility, sometimes the only thing that makes that type of schedule worth it is the salary (although some might argue that even a six-figure salary isn’t worth that kind of effort).

Your priorities determine what makes you feel rich, as well as whether or not you would rather have better perks at your job, or more money. Think about what’s important to you, and what you prefer in life. If you could make a little less money, but have more flexibility and time at home with your family, you might feel plenty rich, and satisfied with your job. However, if you are having trouble making ends meet, and you feel like you really need the money, you might be willing to put up with a crappy job, just to get you through your current financial rough patch.

What do you think? Would you rather have better perks and benefits? Or do you just want more money from your job?

About the Author

By , on Jun 27, 2012
Miranda Marquit
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Leave Your Comment (8 Comments)

  1. Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says:

    Salary is fungible. Perks aren’t. I can use salary to buy whatever perks I want!

  2. Sun says:

    For me, the answer has changed as I age and the qualities I value have changed. Money used to be primary when I first got out of college, but I value it less as some of the perks like having every other Friday off, health care, paid sick/vacation, company match 401(k), etc all become more important. I think it has to do with your life situation, priorities, and financial goal. When I was single, all I was interested in was meeting girls, going out, partying, and trying out new places. Now, that I am married with a child on the way, my life goals are very different now. So, the perks I want are very different from when I first started working.

  3. Kris says:

    Easy for me – I get lots of time off, but the tradeoff is lower salary. So for me, I would love to be able to cash in some vacation days for cold, hard cash!

  4. David Sneen says:

    Miranda, at some point, the money ceases to be the #1 factor. Many of these perks are important to the worker. Some are definitely worth money; and would be preferrable to a raise.

    There are limits to what a worker can take…even for a large salary. Excessive overtime, unhappy co-workers, a badgering boss, etc. can weigh heavy on a worker. Money is definitely not the only issue.

    Creative companies on a budget need to notice articles like yours, and adjust their policies accordingly.

  5. When you think about it, “perks” like telecommuting can actually give you a raise as well; the cost of gas is so high that just getting to work and back adds up quite fast. I would love to be able to telecommute.

  6. I’d definitely take less money for more vacation time, flexible hours, and the option to telecommute. Money is great and all, but it’s not the only contributor to happiness.

  7. krantcents says:

    When I worked in high tech, I had both. As a teacher, the perks are great! Summer vacation, holidays, great medical and a pension to name just a few. Although I appreciate the perks, the salary has not changed in 10 years except for one 6% increase. In the current economy, there is no expectation of any increases. I probably should be grateful I have a job.

  8. I think in most cases I would want the money. The only perks that I use are flexibility and paid time off. I am glad for health insurance but rarely use it. Totally worth it though because one serious trip to the Dr could pay for it all.

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