There's More to Your Compensation Than Salary

Why It Matters

  • If you're thinking about accepting a job offer, look at more than just the salary.
  • Included benefits, like medical coverage and access to retirement vehicles, not only increase the value of your compensation package, they may also reduce your tax rate.
  • Don't discount the value of other smaller perks like gym memberships and discounted transit passes.

Ryan Johnson tkc.profilePicture Written by: Ryan Johnson | Transamerica
March 14, 2018

2-3 Min readClock Icon

Considering a job change? You’re not alone.

According to the 2017 Mind The Workplace report, a study conducted by Mental Health America and The Faas Foundation, some 70% of survey respondents were thinking about finding a new job or actively looking. This study surveyed more than 17,000 workers in 19 different industries – from executive to mid-level to frontline workers.

Of the respondents, 45% said employees were “rarely or never” paid what they were worth. It’s no surprise that dissatisfaction with pay is one factor in looking for a new job.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking a bigger paycheck. It’s natural to want to be compensated fairly for your talents. And a bump in salary may help keep your personal and retirement goals on the right path, not to mention offer a little cushion on the monthly budget.

Below, we’ll look at other important things to consider beyond salary. But, admittedly, that dollar figure is where many job seekers start. If you’re discussing salary with a prospective employer, do your research and understand what someone with your skills and experience earns in your market.

Don’t just go in with an assumption of what you should be making. Explore resources like and to bring some comparative data to the negotiating table.

If you’re wondering what an increase in salary might mean for your effective tax rate under the new tax laws, Transamerica’s Advanced Markets team compiled this helpful fact sheet.

Now, before you make the leap for the promise of big bucks, it’s worth considering other factors. As you likely know, how much you take home isn’t solely based on that salary.


Access to good health coverage, life insurance, and retirement savings add to (or subtract from) your bottom line. And come tax time, some of those benefits deliver even more.


News item: Health care is expensive. Companies offering premium coverage can certainly use that as a great selling point in the recruiting process. Be sure to investigate the types of medical benefits available with your prospective employer.

Understanding your financial contribution, and knowing what the company covers, is important. CNBC suggests asking these questions: Does your employer offer an HMO, a PPO, or a high-deductible health plan?

If the company offers a high-deductible plan, ask if you’ll have access to a health savings account (HSA). An HSA lets you set aside pre-tax money to be used for qualified medical expenses. As points out, “By using untaxed dollars in a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses, you can lower your overall health care costs.”

Additionally, if you have regular monthly prescriptions, consider how much your plan may or may not cover. Those recurring costs add up.

Life insurance and disability

Some companies offer no- or low-cost life insurance policies and disability coverage in the event you’re injured or incapacitated for a period of time. Learn what is covered. You’ll likely need additional life insurance separate from what an employer offers, but an included policy at no cost is a nice benefit.


Depending on your industry and your employment level, there’s a good chance you’ll have access to a retirement vehicle like a 401(k) or an IRA. Find out when and how much you can contribute. And ask if the employer makes matching contributions. With qualifying accounts, like a 401(k), you’ll make pre-tax contributions and lower your taxable income during the years you participate.

Paid time off

Vacation days, sick days, and personal days add value to any compensation package. Some companies may offer a generous number of paid days off at the onset of employment. Others, however, might require new employees to earn those days over a period of time. If you’re leaving a job you’ve held for some time, you may have accrued time. Don’t leave days (or dollars) behind should you decide to leave. And when you earn vacation time, remember to use it.


Will you have unlimited access to the corporate jet? That’s great. But that’s not the type of transportation coverage most of us enjoy. Find out if your employer offers access to mass transit monthly passes. Even if it’s not entirely paid for, you may receive a discounted rate. If you’ll be driving, learn if parking is available and paid for by the company. Costs for parking in major urban areas can get expensive. And if you really want to crunch the numbers, factor in distance to the new job so you can estimate fuel costs and time lost (or gained) with a new commute.

Perks and other things worth considering

Be sure to inquire about other potential perks offered by the company. Some, of course, have quantifiable costs associated with them, and some may offer convenience and value. A corporate gym membership is not only good for you, it’s good for your bottom line. Access to concierge-like services, like dry cleaning and meal deliveries, may not be free, but the convenience might be worth the value of your time. Even small inclusions like free coffee and tea service in the company kitchen can lower your daily out-of-pocket expenses.

Ultimately, there are many factors you’ll weigh when considering a job offer. The financial upside of a new position shouldn’t be discounted. But, in the interest of balancing your wealth + health, you may ask yourself if the job offers more than an increase in salary. A challenging and fulfilling role with the right organization may reap more meaningful rewards than those that end up in the bank.

Things to Consider:

  • If you’re negotiating salary with a prospective employer, explore resources like and to better understand what your talents are worth.
  • When it comes to medical coverage, ask the right questions so you understand what your costs will be, as well as what the company contributes.
  • Even things like free coffee and tea in the employee kitchen can help you keep more of that new paycheck.



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