Negotiating Your Salary? Your Benefits May Be More Important

by Miranda Marquit · 6 comments

When we think of salary negotiations, many of us think mainly of annual pay. How much money will we receive for our work?

If you’re looking for a more satisfactory life, however, you shouldn’t get caught up in trying to negotiate more pay. Instead, look at the entire benefits package.

Think about how your overall situation would improve if you negotiated the following portions of your benefits package:

Time Off

How much vacation time do you want? If you’re running into a snag over salary negotiations, whether you’re starting at a new job or asking for a raise, you might be able to get a couple more paid vacation days. Ask yourself: Would you rather have a couple thousand extra dollars a year, or three or four extra vacation days?

In some cases, employees are willing to take unpaid vacation time. Even if you can’t get a higher salary, could you be approved for extended unpaid leave? This type of arrangement can provide you with the opportunity to have more time with family and friends, take classes or work toward a degree, or allow some other lifestyle enhancement.

Flexible Schedule

Another opportunity to negotiate comes with schedule flexibility. What if you could come into work earlier and leave a little earlier? What about telecommuting two or three times a week?

For many workers, the ability to put in four 10-hour workdays so that they can have a three-day weekend every week is worth it. Find out if you can get a flexible schedule by agreeing to a little less in terms of pay.

Career & Education

Perhaps, instead of getting a higher salary, you can get your company to help you with career and education improvements. Maybe you can take a certification course, or work toward an advanced degree with help from your company.

In some cases, you might be able to get the company to foot the bill to development conferences and seminars. In the long run, this can be more valuable to you than a slightly higher salary.

Health and Wellness

Maybe you ask for help with your lifestyle and wellness situation. One of my employers paid 50% of a gym membership for its employees. Additionally, the company paid for a massage therapist to come in once a month and give employees short, stress-relieving treatments.

Whether it’s providing daycare for your children, or offering an on-site fitness center, these perks can be worth more to your overall well-being than money.

The Bottom Line

Money isn’t everything. Sometimes, the benefits and perks that come with the ability to live a better lifestyle are worth more than money. Rather than seeing your salary negotiation as something that deals strictly with your pay, think of the entire compensation package.

Health benefits, time (which can’t be replaced), and flexibility are all things that you can’t really quantify with money — at least not easily. If you’re willing to negotiate some of these other benefits, you can create a work situation that satisfies you, even if you don’t get as much money as you thought you’d like.

Are there any benefits for which you’d take a pay cut?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

John S @ Frugal Rules October 1, 2013 at 6:35 am

I think other benefits are huge and should not be overlooked. For me, I always would want either more time off (even if unpaid) and a more flexible schedule. With a young family, I appreciate my time off so it was very important to me. Now that we run our own business I thankfully get to make my own schedule. :)

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Michelle October 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

I would take a pay cut if it meant more time off. Being able to travel more and having a better schedule would be nice!

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MoneyNing October 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

Another often neglected benefit that people don’t talk about is the retirement benefits. Do they offer a 401k plan? What are the investment options? Is there a match on your contributions? The difference between a good and bad retirement plan at the workplace could be huge, so factor that into your calculation as well.

Even more important are the culture and people at the new workplace. It’ll be hard to tell until you work there, but request to speak with more people who work there during your interviews. Try to get to know them. Could you see yourself working with them? How friendly are they? Not only will this help your chances of being employed, it’ll give you more clues of how likely you’d be able to fit in.

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Ajjaxbebe October 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I once negotiated as part of my salary a company gas card that extended to personal use. What a deal!

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Jon @ MoneySmartGuides October 3, 2013 at 4:39 am

I switched jobs and received a higher salary. I also lost almost 2 weeks worth of vacation time. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it makes a huge difference. I would have loved to keep all of that vacation time looking back now.

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Property Marbella October 5, 2013 at 2:28 am

Depending on work tasks you have, maybe you can also negotiate to you an extra commission or similar on that you create in profit for the company, in addition to the regular salary.

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