Job Benefits

Figure out if that offer is a good deal!

You received that job offer and you are thinking the salary could be a little higher. The company who wants to hire you says “but our job benefits make up for it!” At the FCC we can assist you in figuring out if this is true or not, by examining the benefits.

What benefits are employers offering?

For each of the benefits employers might offer, the devil is in the details:

  • Retirement: What percentage of your salary in matching funds (free money) do they offer, if any? When do the matching funds become your money (vesting)? What type of plan is it: defined benefit plan (pension) or a defined contribution plan (for example, a 401K).

  • Health insurance: What insurance options are they offering? Is there the option of both an HMO and a PPO? What are HMO’s and a PPO’s? Which costs less and which one provides more doctor choice? Do they offer an option with a health savings account?

  • Life insurance: Are you provided with at least the amount of your yearly salary in life insurance for free? Is it term life insurance? Does your new employer offer the option of purchasing additional coverage to meet your life insurance needs?  Is the benefit being offered considered the norm for the field you are in or not?

  • Disability insurance: Do you need disability insurance? What type of disability insurance is being offered? Own occupation or any occupation? What is the difference? Is the benefit being offered considered the norm for the field you are in or not?

  • Flexible spending plans: What are they? What are the pros and cons?

What happens during a session?

In the first session, our goal is to provide education about job benefits so you can make an informed decision about the offer you have been (or may be) presented. You may discuss general job benefit options or focus on raising your level of knowledge and awareness about a specific benefits package. Our counselors will ask for information about your current situation and what changes might occur later in life, such as getting married and having children. This information can be used to help you establish a strategy that ensures your job benefits will best meet your needs and goals.

Overall, the first session will be an overview of all of the benefits you are being offered. Because of the extensive nature of the session, most likely an additional session will be required to fully address employee benefits and how they fit in with your other financial and life goals.

What happens during follow-up sessions?

A subsequent session may be beneficial, in which we would look more in-depth at the different options for employee benefits, such as health insurance, investment/retirement plans, or other benefits. A significant portion of the second session may be devoted to helping you understand investing in your retirement savings plan offered by your new employer. Such factors may include the investment options that are available, when you will be vested, and how comfortable you are with risk. The risk/reward trade-off is important to understand, and will also be discussed.

Resources you may use

  • Be sure to bring in your own benefit package to analyze and compare to typical benefit packages.
  • Social Security Administration hosts a calculator, which provides information on benefits as well as estimates of the benefits you can expect to receive in retirement. 
  • Contact Information

    Financial Counseling Clinic
    Iowa State University
    4380 Palmer HDFS Building, #1340
    Ames, Iowa 50011-4380 
    ​515-294-8644

  • Typical Benefits Offered

    • Retirement savings plan
    • Health insurance
    • Life insurance
    • Disability insurance
    • Vacation
    • Personal and sick leave
    • Flexible spending accounts
  • Tools