Pay vs. benefits
I'm torn between two potential trucking jobs. One pays better but has fewer benefits. The other pays less but has more benefits. Which should I choose?
Response from Vicki:
Wow! I can't really make that call for you, but since you asked, I can offer some pointers.
First of all, according to this article:
"Nearly 80 percent of the thousands of drivers surveyed nationwide by National Retail System said salary was the most important factor when choosing a job."
If you look at the graph on that page, you'll see that "benefits" comes in down the list on important factors for most drivers
* behind "salary", "home time", "equipment" and "retirement" and
* tied with "other".
One thing about employee benefits when it comes to any truck driving job is that benefits don't pay your bills. Only your wages can do that. Furthermore, you'll be paying out of pocket for just about any elective benefit you choose.
Some people may be "insurance rich and cash poor" -- which means that they have a lot of insurance but not much money. Is that what you would prefer to be?
We describe on our open enrollment page what happened to my husband Mike and me when we went through the process in 2009. The agent in charge of signing up people for benefits through Mike's at-that-time trucking company was not as knowledegeable about the benefits he was signing people up for as Mike was! Mike had prepared himself ahead of time by doing his research.
One of the things that we didn't like was that the trucking company had "pre-selected" the benefits that they wanted their employees to choose from. In other words, employees did not have a wide open door to choose any benefits they wanted -- only those that the company wanted for them to choose from.
To overcome this obstacle -- especially when it came to our health insurance plan -- we went to a health insurance broker and got our own policy. So when the open enrollment agent claimed that the company was offering "the best rates" that were available, we knew that was untrue since we already had a health insurance policy that offered more, with a higher lifetime maximum, at a lower cost. (Hurray for a well-informed consumer!)
So, don't get trapped into thinking that you have to choose from only those benefits that your trucking company offers you.
Also, remember that if you take time off for any reason, as long as you're an employee of your trucking company, you will be responsible to continue paying for your benefits if you want to keep them. Any weekly-paid benefits will have to be paid for when you're on vacation or family leave, etc. It can be a hard thing to have have to face that when you're not working, so plan ahead.
Finally, I'm not sure if this applies to you or not, but if the reason why you're concerned about the money aspect of your potential trucking job is because you have a lot of financial stress, I encourage you to reduce it. The sooner you can let go of unneeded expenses, the better. (And if you need a budget, we have help for you there, too.)
You didn't say at what point you are in your trucking career. Whether you're just starting out or are a seasoned driver, I wish you well in your selection of a job. Perhaps later on, you can return to this page and let us know what you decided to do and how that worked out for you.
Mike and I wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.