Your first thought when receiving a job offer may be the salary, and with good reason. You need that income to pay your bills, save for retirement, and have some fun too. But salary isn’t the only aspect you should consider – workplace benefits, such as paid time off, RRSP matching, vision and dental, and wellness packages – can affect your decision to accept employment. But which packs a better punch: salary vs. benefits? It depends on a number of factors, and one of those is your age.
Every decade comes with its own needs and challenges, meaning that the decision about whether you prefer a higher salary or better benefits depends on your current situation. Here is an overview of what could be important in each decade of work:
If you are in your 20s, you are just getting your working feet wet. You could have student loans to repay. Having a reasonable salary for your education is a good start. As for benefits, RRSP matching lets you enjoy the power of compounding. If you want to get promoted quickly, look for tuition reimbursement.
Once you enter your 30s, you should have a solid footing in your career. Chances are you experienced several raises or promotions that increased your salary. At this point, you may be shifting your focus into a better balance of salary and benefits. You may still like RRSP matching and salary increases, but may appreciate child care subsidies, flex time to address child or elder care issues, and may start to use massage therapy to relieve some stress.
And your 40s – you have the experience and education to be acknowledged as an expert in your field. You may be approaching the upper limit for salary at your given level. At this point, you may be thinking of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Wellness programs, vision and dental benefits, and gym memberships may hold a great appeal. Flex time to address child or elder care issues still could be useful. More vacation is also a great perk after being in the business for several decades now.
Every decade at work and in life has its own requirements. Take regular looks at your situation to see whether you would be better off with a higher salary, or more comprehensive benefits. Remember that there is no one right answer – the best solution is an appropriate and flexible balance.