Okay, so we’ve talked about choosing where to live, the paperwork that comes along with getting a job, and we’ve touched on the benefits thing. But now it’s time to go even further into what is called, “benefits.”
It’s such a strange word, really. If you say it too many times, it doesn’t sound like a word anymore. Word or not, medical benefits and retirement benefits are extremely important to being a grown up. If fact, you might find someday that accepting or rejecting a job will depend heavily on the kinds of benefits you receive as an employee. Let’s break down the options that are out there:
1. No benefits. This one sucks, but coming out of college, you might have to have this kind of job. Part-time, waitresses, retail, contract jobs, self-employed/freelance. We’re all probably going to have to pay our dues in the benefits-less world. No medical coverage and no retirement options and no paid vacation or sick leave or maternity leave. The kind of places that don’t offer benefits are the kinds of places that lose and gain employees at a high rate. There’ no reason to have benefits–it would be too costly and too much of a hassle. What this means is, you’re going to have to fend for yourself. Fortunately, you can. Start your own Roth IRA account at a bank or banking institution to put away some money for the later years. If you’re not on your parent’s health care plan, shop around and get your own. There are plenty of companies with low-premium, high-deductible and/or short-term plans. They won’t cover your doctor visits, but if you get in a car accident and break all your bones, you’ll be covered!
2. Partial benefits. This one is okay. Usually it’s a retirement plan. If so, use it. The company matching your contribution will make you more money than you investing in your personal account. Partial benefits usually don’t mean medical, but if they do, (lucky) you’ll get some bare-bones medical plan that doesn’t cover dental/vision and probably doesn’t cover a lot of other things. Beware. It might be more cost-efficient to get your own health care plan or stay on your parents. Find out what the medical plan from your job would cover and what it wouldn’t. If accepting the mediocre medical plan is your only option for coverage, take it. It depends on the company as to whether you get sick leave, vacation days or maternity/paternity leave; but usually it’s not available.
3. Full benefits. Bam. You’ve hit the job-jackpot. You’ve got a salary, a retirement plan, medical coverage that most likely covers EVERYTHING (including dental/vision/preventative care) and you probably even have the option to opt-in to a life/accident insurance plan, too, not to mention paid sick days, paid vacation days and if you or your lady-friend get knocked-up, you can take of weeks and weeks and still get paid. NICE. TAKE IT ALL AND CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS BY GETTING A FULL BODY SCAN. If you want to wait until you absolutely have to be off your parents healthcare, that’s fine. Make sure to send them a Thank You flower arrangement.
Now, obviously, we’d all like to have option number three basically as soon as we get finished walking across the graduation stage. However, that’s not very likely if you got a degree in History, English, Theatre… basically anything that doesn’t fall under the “Science” category. Lame.
You might say, that’s fine. I’m young and healthy, no need to think about retiring. No need to have healthcare (if you’re not on my and dad’s plan).
YOU’RE SO WRONG I AIN’T LAUGHING.
(Now, see, if you have a theatre degree, you’ll be able to say the name of the play and playwright where that quotation comes from, but, chances are you don’t have benefits. Don’t worry, this is me, too.)
You NEED health coverage. You NEED to plan for retirement right now. You’ll thank yourself when you’re 60, rolling around in your money pile and joyous that you’re only on one prescription medication.
You can do both these things for less than $150 a month. That’s $5 a day. Next week, we’re gonna shop around for healthcare. The week after, we’re gonna talk about opening a personal retirement account and funding it.
Until then, imagine the year 2072 looks like.