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Ask For Non-Traditional Benefits

Salary, salary, salary. OK — and bonuses. That’s where most people focus their efforts when they’re negotiating the details of an annual review, promotion, or new job.

The reasons for the tunnel vision are pretty clear. We’re conditioned to think about salary and bonuses because everyone else does, because they’re easily quantified, and because employers usually offer them.

As nice as it feels to bring home a higher salary and bigger bonuses, they are taxable and may bump you up into a higher income tax bracket. Additionally, there’s a good chance that your company has pretty stringent rules governing what’s available for an employee at a given grade or level.

Don’t forget that the higher you climb within an organization, the broader your possibilities for non-traditional benefits. But even if you’re not at the top of the pile you can still ask for any of the following:

  • 401k account matching — above and beyond what they might otherwise have contributed
  • Credit card miles/points — if you’re responsible for making some work-related purchases, see if you can’t get your employer to reimburse you for the purchases charge on your card to earn the miles/points
  • A better job title — best of all, it doesn’t cost your employer anything!
  • Company products — if you like (and can actually use in your personal life) what your company produces
  • Personal computer — or anything that’s not cash so it can’t be taxed
  • Reimbursement for:
    • Cell phone — the upfront hardware purchase and monthly service
    • Home services — internet/phone/etc. are a reasonable request if you ever work from home
    • Gym membership — if you’re healthy you’ll be happier, have more energy, and be able to work harder (at least that’s what you’ll tell your employer, right?)
    • College tuition — earn your degree without incurring extensive debt
    • Miscellaneous training — increase your knowledge of work-related subjects and/or earn certifications on the company’s dime
    • Home office space — this one is a bit of a stretch, but it never hurts to ask
    • Car expenses — car payments/insurance/gas/etc., or better yet a company car
    • Public transportation — in bigger cities a metro card is a must-have, but the expense adds up month after month
  • Flexible working conditions:
    • Working from home — at least some of the time you could save time and money by skipping the commute
    • Creative schedule — if your responsibilities permit, you could work four 10-hour days instead of the traditional work week – this would also reduce commuting time and costs

This list is not exhaustive; it’s intended to get you thinking. Please suggest any others that you have thought of or received.

As you’re coming up with your own ideas, dont’ forget that the most helpful benefits may come in the form of reimbursement for current personal expenses that you’re covering with your own post-tax money.

Prepare yourself now for the next time you’re in the position of being able to request something from your employer. The extra cash might be nice, but you might make out better with something a little less traditional.

3 comments to Ask For Non-Traditional Benefits

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