This post first appeared over at Clark Howard.com.
Unless you’re self employed, you likely have a few work perks that sweeten your compensation package. For most people it’s medical and dental insurance, a retirement plan and maybe a deal on your company’s retail products. Oftentimes there are discounts on local attractions, cell phone plans or a gym membership. But occasionally a company’s work perks are significant enough to tip the scales and transform a low paying or unsatisfying job into one that’s worth your consideration.
Everyone knows that pilots and flight attendants get free flights, but did you know that other airline employees also receive this benefit? From the desk clerks to the cleaning crews, taking a job in the airlines industry can transform your vacations from backyard camping to jet-setting adventures. Add in that airline employees often enjoy hotel discounts, and you’ll even have a cheap place to stay once you arrive at your destination.
Few people would recommend teaching as a fast track to wealth, but if you work in higher education or at a private school, the free or discounted tuition can change that scenario. University and college employees (not just teachers) usually receive free tuition for themselves and even their dependents, which can add tens of thousands per year to a compensation package. You might even consider searching out a job with a non-education based company that provides a free tuition benefit. When even Starbucks pays for their employees to matriculate, you’d be smart to snag one of these jobs.
Who among us can claim to not be a fan of free food? Whether you’re lucky enough to work for a company that provides free meals, (many do!) or simply work for a restaurant or caterer, free food can be a terrific perk with your job. Restaurants usually provide a free meal per shift, but will often send employees home with unserved food.
Free ambulance services
This one may sound odd, but my husband is a paramedic with a national company, and one of his perks is that he or his immediate family members can receive one free ambulance trip per year. Although this is a benefit we’d rather not use, we’ve actually used it twice through the years. Once when my son broke his arm and another time when my father in law took a nasty spill. Transportation and treatment by ambulance can cost upwards of a thousand bucks, so this benefit is pretty great.
Free sports tickets
Sports teams and stadiums are usually sponsored by big name companies, which means that their employees can get free or at least discounted tickets. My employer sponsors the soccer stadium here in Portland, Oregon which means that employees can sign up for the occasional free ticket. Go team!
Many employers provide an amount that can be put towards the expenses of adoption, often in the range of $2000. Not enough to pay the average cost of $40,121 for a traditional adoption, but still extremely helpful. Ask your human resources representative if your company offers this benefit.
Free museum passes
Whether you work for a cultural attraction with a reciprocal admission agreement or a private company with ties to a museum, this perk can save you a lot of money. With admissions ranging in the $25 range for NYC museum such as The Museum of Modern Art or The Whitney, a museum visit can turn into a significant investment. A friend of mine works for a large financial company that provides these passes to their employees, and he’s been kind enough to share them when I visit.
Student loan forgiveness
There are a number of organizations that participate in student loan forgiveness programs. Usually as an incentive to cover underserved areas, these programs forgive the payoff on federally insured student loans after a specified period. This government site can be a good start to researching these opportunities.
I’ve held a number of interesting jobs throughout my forty-eight years, ranging from British shoe sales to Macy’s elf. Although I had my favorites, a few of them provided work perks that I look back upon with fondness. The retail store that provided a cost-plus-10% discount on absolutely everything in the store, and the free movie admissions from a local theater stand out in my mind. My current job as an RN provides a free $888 public transportation pass, which brightens my day when work gets tough.
Whether it’s free food or free college tuition, works perks can and should be considered when looking at a compensation package.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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