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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What is Your Job Offer Really Worth?

This is a repost from a post from our other blog, Kitty & Kevin  back in January of 2015. I'm reposting this because I just went through the process of this transition as I decided to take a new job recently...more on that at a later date! That being said, whether its your first job or your 10th job...there are lots of things to think about when you have a job offer on the table! 


I'm in my 20's, which means most of my friends are as well. During this time it seems we are all so quick to jump into new jobs and careers, just for the hope of a bit higher paycheck. We move to new cities or complain about how a friend makes more than we do at a similar job.

I've walked through a new job offer with many of my friends these past few years, explaining the pros/cons of a new position in terms of finances. I encourage them to take a step back, get past paycheck that you'll be receiving, and think of the offer as a whole package, not just dollar signs. When it comes to money at a new job, the question to ask is not what your salary will be, but how much more or less disposable income will you have at this new job? A salary of $40,000 a year may mean you actually have $15,000 MORE to spend each year than a salary of $50,000 a year! It's not just what your paycheck is each month...but think of the bigger picture and look at how much disposable income (how much money you'll have in your pocket) at the new job. 

Here are a few things to consider when you're looking at a new job offer, or when you're looking to increase your salary at an existing job. Maybe your employer can't give you a raise, but can pay for your gym membership or public transportation card that costs you $80 per month...that is the same to you as a $1,200 raise (this is assuming you pay 20% in taxes on the $100 a month more they would be paying you) Consider looking past what you'll be receiving each pay period, and look at the additional items that may be offered that increase or decrease your overall disposable income.

Vacation- What is vacation worth to you? If you don't travel, or live in the same place that your family lives, vacation may not be as important since you may not need extra days to travel over the holiday. I technically don't have set vacation at my job, because of the flexibility of my work hours, the goal for attorneys is to bill so many hours each year, they don't care how you get there. Kevin gets 3 weeks of paid vacation, which we use up every year! Vacation is so important to us both! At this time in our lives, vacation is worth a lot to us. If I had only 2 weeks vacation, I'd be taking unpaid vacation for all the times I'm gone. (or not be able to go at all!) We also use our vacation for out of state weddings, which are a great source of income for us. 

Cost of living- If your apartment/house costs double in a new city or state, consider that when you're looking at moving for a job. We have a reasonable $700 1 bedroom apartment that would likely cost $1,500 in a bigger city. Moving for a $3,000 raise wouldn't be a raise at all if our costs increase that much.

Insurance Benefits- Are you getting health insurance through work? What is that worth to you? It's worth some to our small family, but probably worth a lot to a mom with 2 kids, and one more on the way. It saves us a few thousand or so to have insurance through Kevin's work every year, while a pregnant woman, dad, and kids may save them 5x as much. You may hear that health insurance is worth a lower paycheck, and it may be...sometimes. We have insurance through Kevin's employer, so the fact that mine doesn't offer health insurance isn't a big deal to us. 

Commute- How far will your office be from home? Will it be a 10 minute commute, or an hour? What is that time worth to you? Some people enjoy time in the car to relax at the end of the day. I see time as money as I'm often wasting daylight hours (where I could be photographing) on my drive home. Will you have to buy a more reliable car for your commute or pay for parking? Do you have to pay for an extra hour of daycare expenses because of your commute?

Flexibility- Flexibility in a job is almost priceless to me...almost. My flexibility allows me to work my 2nd job more easily. I can schedule lunch photo sessions, leave work early for a wedding, all of which make me extra money. I am paid less than many of my attorney peers, but my job flexibility is amazing and allows me to make thousands of extra dollars a year doing other things I love (photography!) Flexibility may mean you don't have to pay for daycare, can share cars, or work from home and cut gas expense! 

401(K) Match- Say it with me Free money!! A 401(k) match is straight up money in your pocket...if you actually use it...and you all should!! Figure out what they will match and add it with the money you're getting from your paycheck. It's worth every dime.

Additional Benefits/Fringe Benefits- Are there other benefits that the job offers that may be worth extra to you? Likely they are small but can be a few thousand depending on what they offer! For example: student loan forgiveness or tuition reimbursement, daycare, additional memberships (gym, zoo, costco), use of a company car?

Bonuses- Does the company have a history of giving out a sizable Christmas bonus? Or how about the opportunity to make a commission? Don't count on it (don't buy a pool like Clark Griswold assuming you'll get one) but keep it in mind that there may be an additional monetary perk at the new job that wasn't offered at your old one.  

Travel- will moving further from your family mean you're spending $500 per person to go home for the holidays? Will you do it once or twice a year? Moving may mean more costs that you might not otherwise consider!

Future Income- Is the new job a $10,000 pay raise, but will your job cap off at a certain amount? For example if you're in a large corporation, it may be policy that the max you can earn in that position is X, whereas if you go somewhere else the opportunity to move up or make lots more may be much higher. Look at your potential earning capacity at a new company. 

There are hundreds of other things to consider when you're looking at a job offer: Do you like your boss? Will you like the work? Will you have a corner office or stuck in a cubical? What I'm looking at above are more of things you can quantify in terms of your overall disposable income when you look at a a new job. 

Twentysomething: Surviving and Thriving in the Real World

I'd forgotten all about reading this book 2 years ago when I graduated...until a friend mentioned she was going through the "What do I do now" stage now that she is finishing up graduate school. I remember reading this and realizing that I wasn't the only one who really had only planned out their life until college...and then after college...well I simply hadn't gotten that far. 

A quick read for someone who want's to know you're not a alone! Try Twentysomething: Surviving and Thriving in the Real World if you're looking for a bit of comfort and direction! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lean In

I'm just finishing the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and I know the last thing a law student wants to hear is all about some other book they need to read. However, this is something I'd strongly consider reading over one of your breaks, after the bar, or put it on your reading list for "books I must read once I'm out of law school and can learn to read for fun again". Or do what I did, and get it as an audio book from the library. 
 If you're a woman in law school, or the business world in general, you already know you can do every single thing a man can do in the workplace. You know that women can be very successful partners in a big law firm...although you probably know there are no where near as many women partners are there are men. Chalk it up to all kinds of reasons, and as you start your career you'll probably think you'll never be one of those women that cuts back to raise a family...but then my biological clock started ticking...and I found myself actually considering it and making career choices now based on may potential future family life. I found that even a meer 2 years out of law school, friends were doing the same. 

Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) discusses so many things working business women need to hear. To some extent, I would call myself a that I believe women are equal to men. However, I do find myself doing some of the exact things she discusses that women often struggle with...sabotaging themselves in their careers by worrying about how their career will mesh with having kids years down the road. She talks about how she did the same, and sees lots of successful women turning down job opportunities because they may be planning for children in a few years. 

"Lean In" talks about the actual scientific research done on studies such as this, and a woman's desire to try to "have it all". If anything, it is good to be aware of what mistakes we ourselves may be making...without even realizing it. The book discusses great negotiating techniques, boundaries in the workplace, balancing the desire to be successful and love your job...with wanting to be home for dinner with your kids. You may think you already know this stuff...just by being a 20-something working women during this day and age...but this really hit home for me. It deals with things I constantly think about, worry about, but don't know how to vocalize my concerns to myself let alone my husband. 

A great read. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Amazon: My Favorite Textbook Resource

One of the ways I kept my law school loan debt manageable (I'm proud to say I graduated with only $17,000 of debt from law school) was making sure to be smart with how I bought my textbooks! Amazon was one of my favorite resources! I rented books there, bought books, and sold them back to amazon too for giftcards! There were multiple semesters that I had enough giftcards to buy the next semester's books...meaning that the $200-$300 I needed to put aside for textbooks each semester was able to go to other law school necessities! Give Amazon a shot before buying expensive new books at a school bookstore!

Also, if you want to read more about how we've paid off all $100,000 of our student loan debt in 2 years...check out our blog here! It has some great resources and tips for how we buckled down and became debt free on our 2nd wedding anniversary!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Read This.

During my clerkship between my 2L and 3L years of law school, an associate at the firm I was clerking for gave me her copy of The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law. Now 3 years later I stumbled across the book again and remembered how amazing it was.

It is short, a quick and hilarious read...however...if there is one book I suggest you read during law school, this book is it.

Take a break on a Saturday, sit by the pool for a few hours and read it. Buy it as a congratulatory gift for your son/daughter that was accepted into law school or just graduated and is starting their career. It is practical, honest, hilarious advice about law firm etiquette and practice.

I'll be re-reading the book again this fall as I enter my third year of practice.