5 Financial Fundamentals to Factor into Your Civilian Job Hunt

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Change is constant. That's always been the case, but in recent years -- and spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic -- career paths, organizational structures, expectations and even the thinking about the physical location of work have all been transforming at a rapid-fire pace.

The most recent trend sees employers pushing for employees to return to the office. What's old is new. With all that is in flux, it seems like a good time to step back and focus on a few fundamental, and evergreen, money considerations related to selecting your next job, career or career path. Here are five:

1. Compensation Amounts to More Than Money

The money part may seem obvious since work is the engine that provides everything from food, clothing and shelter to education, vacations and even our ability to support worthy causes. However, it's not just the money.

Workplace benefits such as life and health insurance, disability coverage, spending accounts, paid time off and more tailored benefits, such as those for adoption and fertility treatments, vary by employer and are also a major byproduct of work. So, beyond just money, evaluate the entire rewards package a particular opportunity offers.

2. Work Affects Both Sides of the Budget

Earlier this year, my team returned to the office for a very old-school five days a week. This got me thinking (and feeling!) how the expenses associated with work could be a very real factor in your next work-related decision. For me, transportation (more gas), auto insurance (more miles) and even food expenditures (fewer Lean Cuisines) have all risen as I've shifted back to the office.

I don't spend a lot on haircuts, but I could see how personal care, dry cleaning and similar expenses could fluctuate, depending on the type of position you are evaluating. All that, and child care to boot. Make sure you count all the costs.

3. Work Allows You to Prep for Your Financial Future

At some point, most of us will leave the workforce. And even if it's not our choice, it may be a necessity. Leveraging 401(k), 403(b) and other employer-provided retirement plans can help position you for that next phase of life.

And unlike in the military, these types of plans may vary significantly from employer to employer. Do you have a retirement plan? What are the eligibility rules? Is there a match or profit-sharing program?

Questions like these can help you differentiate opportunities.

4. Work Can Help with the Pivot to Civilian Life

Likely decades before leaving the workforce, military families will make the leap to civilian life. Having crunched the numbers with a lot of folks facing that challenge, I can say definitively that a military spouse's work can be the difference between a struggle and a seamless transition.

5. Rules for Spouses Are Changing, but Challenges Remain

Perks for military spouse employers, increased licensure portability and even tax credits for military spouse hiring are all relatively recent developments. That being said, choosing an approach or opportunity that fits with your military lifestyle is always an important consideration.

I've always been a proponent of focusing your efforts on things in your power. Do that, and regardless of how the landscape shifts, you will be best positioned to make the most of it.

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