Military families often help make ends meet by adding a second job, either with the servicemember taking on a part-time gig or the spouse working as well. When considering adding a non-military job to a family's income, be sure to look beyond the pay to see how the job's benefits can complement a family's completely financial picture. For example, a generous 401(k) match or great vision insurance can be worth more than a slightly higher salary. For hourly jobs, benefits such as employee discounts can make a huge difference in spending costs. Also, consider the value of on-the-job training and how it might make you more marketable in the future.
When my husband and I were newly married, I worked for several months in a furniture store that offered a large employee discount. In addition, I was able to keep tabs on prices and know when things would go on sale or be marked down to clearance prices. As a young couple on a limited income, that discount made the difference between years of milk crate furniture and having a few nice pieces. It also helped keep us from making expensive purchases on credit, which is always good.
Later, I sold kitchen tools through a home party company and fully stocked our kitchen with high quality items that I still use every single day. I consider this a double bonus. Not only did I purchase my kitchen things at an enormous discount, but I believe that I enjoy cooking more because I have the right tools. I can't imagine trying to feed my family with lousy knives and pans that burn things. With six people to feed every day, it saves us a lot of money when we cook and eat at home.
At another duty station, I unexpectedly got a job in an entirely new field and it was the first step towards my current career. I was working for a temporary agency and filled in as the receptionist at a mortgage bank. I became friendly with some of the employees and was called back whenever they needed a temp. Eventually a full-time position became available and I was able to apply before the job was officially advertised. Based upon their knowledge of my work in their office, the hiring people offered me the position without interviewing anyone else. While I had always had an interest in financial things, I had never considered working in the financial industry. My job required me to review delinquent mortgages, and I discovered that I found it fascinating. I learned so much at that job. I've used that knowledge in my personal life, to help friends when they buy houses or refinance, and to start in a whole new direction work-wise. Who would have guessed that I'd be writing about personal finance 15 years in the future?
None of these three jobs paid particularly well, but the benefits made them all good choices for our family. Whether you are looking for a seasonal job or a full-fledged career, always calculate the other benefits in addition to the amount that will end up in your paycheck.
In addition to pay, be sure to consider:
- insurance, particularly vision and dental if you are covered by Tricare Prime
- tuition assistance
- pension or 401(k) matching funds, or even just having access to a 401(k)
- health and dependent care flexible savings accounts
- employee discounts
- travel benefits
- on-the-job training
- networking and mentoring opportunities