Getting a job offer is an exciting prospect, but if you're like most people, the first thing on your mind will probably be money. After all, we all want to earn as much as possible. That said, your salary is only a portion of your overall compensation package, and it's just as important to find an employer who's willing to offer good benefits. Here are a few in particular that you'll want to snag.
1. A 401(k) plan -- ideally, with an employer match
Tax-advantaged retirement plans make it easy to save for retirement, but not every company offers one. In fact, it's estimated that more than 40% of U.S. employees do not have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k). And while you still have the option to fund an IRA in the absence of a 401(k), you should know that the latter offers a much higher annual contribution limit ($18,000 for workers under 50, versus $5,500 for an IRA), which means you can grow your savings more quickly with a 401(k).
Contribution limits aside, 401(k)s make saving for retirement seamless. All you do is allocate a portion of your paycheck to be set aside, and your employer will automatically deduct that amount, tax-free, and send it directly to your 401(k). IRA contributions are by no means difficult, but they require a bit more proactive work on your part.
Of course, the only thing better than a 401(k) is a plan that also comes with a match. Of the numerous U.S. companies that provide 401(k)s, more than 90% are said to offer some sort of matching incentive, and if you contribute enough to claim your match in full, you'll have an easy opportunity to grow your nest egg even more.
2. Good health insurance
A solid health insurance plan is basically like money in your pocket. That's because without such a plan, you might end up spending thousands more in uncovered treatments and services.
Furthermore, if your employer covers the majority of your premium costs and only makes you pay a small portion, that's a huge degree of savings right there. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that in 2016, the average employer-sponsored health insurance plan cost $18,142 a year, yet workers themselves only contributed an average of $5,277. Also, some companies completely cover the cost of their employees' health plans, and if yours is one of them, that's reason enough to be grateful.
3. Paid time off
We all need time away from the office to tend to personal matters, recover from illnesses, or recharge on vacation. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for paid time off, and some companies are far more generous than others.
According to Salary.com, the average amount of paid time off for a worker with less than one year of service is 14 days. This figure, however, includes sick and personal time, which many companies categorize separately from actual vacation time. Having a reasonable amount of time off is important for both your mental and physical well-being, so the more days your company is willing to give you, the better.
4. Wellness perks
Some companies offer their employees discounted gym memberships or rebates on exercise equipment. Others offer in-office yoga classes and massage therapy. No matter what sort of specific benefits you're entitled to, if your company has a wellness program in place, take it as a good sign that it cares about its employees and their health.
5. Free food
We all need to eat during the workday, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or an in-between snack. If your company offers free food and coffee, that's a huge opportunity to save some serious money over the course of the year.
Now some companies that provide food do so as a means of keeping employees at the office so that they maintain their productivity. But no matter the reason for offering free food, if you take advantage of that company pantry and fridge, you can shave thousands of dollars off your living expenses.
Imagine your company provides bagels every morning, sandwiches at lunch, and unlimited coffee in between. If the going rate near your office is $2 for that bagel, $7 for a sandwich, and $2 for a coffee, that's $11 in savings every day (assuming you only down one cup of joe). Multiply that by 50 workweeks, and you'll end up pocketing an additional $2,750 in just a year's time.
It's natural to want to lock in the highest salary you can get your hands on. But don't discount these valuable benefits that many of today's companies offer -- benefits that will not only save you money but improve your quality of life.