How Big is Your Package?

I’ve got a personal question to ask you.  I know this is a taboo subject in the workplace, but just between you and me – how big is your package?  Your benefits package.

close up photography of magnifying glass
It’s a bad sign if you need a magnifying glass.

We spend a lot of time comparing jobs based on the hourly rate or annual salary, but solely focusing on a job’s wages is very shortsighted.  If you put too much emphasis on your paycheck you may be missing out on all sorts of benefits that can help you build wealth and minimize taxes.


Anyone who tries to impress you with their high income is clearly overcompensating for their small package.  Many employers are quick to brag about their high hourly rate, but when you ask to see their benefits they hang their heads in shame.

Locums jobs are famous for high rates, but when you factor in value of your employer’s benefits your day job may pay similarly on an hourly basis.  In my experience, these locums jobs are enticing you with high rates because they are going to squeeze you for every last penny.’s worth.  In locums work, every shift is a bank robbery.  Some days you’re holding the gun, while other days your hands are in the air.

It’s How You Use It

You can do a lot of things with a big benefits package.

Attract New Partners – I’m not going to lie.  It’s easy to attract and retain new partners with a big package.  If you’ve always settled for minimal benefits you won’t believe your eyes.  I can assure you that once you go pre-tax, you never go back.  There is very little turnover at my job because there are very few jobs that offer so many tax-deductible perks.

close up photography of person s eye
Where do I sign?!?

Build Wealth – My partners’ wealth-building is on autopilot.  A huge portion of their total income is funneled into vehicles that will make them financially independent before retirement age.

Cut Taxes – Every extra dollar that goes into a tax-free benefit is 35 cents I don’t send the IRS.  My benefits package trims more than $50,000 off my tax bill every April.  Hands off my package, Uncle Sam!

Bigger is Better

When it comes to pre-tax benefits, the bigger the better.  Yes, I do like that it slashes my taxes, but that’s not my favorite part.

The best part about having such a benefits-heavy structure at my job is that I get used to living on a fraction of my overall income.  It is a built-in safety mechanism that makes it easier to live below my means.

The other perk is that if our group took a big financial hit, there is plenty of wiggle room to cut benefits and maintain cash flow.

A Sneak Peek

My package is nothing to brag about.  I’ve seen bigger.  I’ve seen smaller.  You have to work with what you’ve got. Luckily for me it’s enough to get the job done.

Here is the actual breakdown of my 2017 benefits package:

Cell Phone  $960

Computer  $1158

Group Disability Insurance  $5,497.20

Individual Disability Insurance  $5,579.28

CME / Medical Dues / License Reimbursement – $7,069.08

Financial Advisor reimbursement  $650

Fitness Reimbursement $1,000

Health and Dental Insurance  $15,983.04

HSA Contributions $6,000

Medical Expense Reimbursement $6,727.99

Internet Reimbursement $1,019.40

Life Insurance $1,025.66

Medicare / SS Tax (Employer half)  $15,114.88

Liability Insurance $25,725.10

Profit Sharing Contribution  $36,000

Cash Balance Plan:  $50,000

Total Benefits:  $179,509.63

Clinical Hours worked:  1,803

Hourly value of benefits package:  $99.56 / hour

Would it be more impressive if my hourly rate was $99.56 higher than it currently is?  Who cares?  I’m more impressed by someone who has taken advantage of every incentive the IRS throws at them.  Let people be impressed when you achieve financial independence before your kids start college.

There’s No “One Size Fits All”

There are times when you may not need or desire a benefits package at all.  When it comes to side hustles, it’s all about the hourly rate.  Yes, I do take advantage of a solo 401(k) and self-employed tax breaks, but I don’t need my part-time employers enticing me with anything other than cold hard cash.

There are other scenarios where you may choose cash over benefits.  Maybe your spouse already has a big package and you don’t need a second one in your life.  Maybe you’re trying to pay off your student loans as fast as possible and you prefer the extra cash.  Maybe you’ve already achieved financial independence and at your age you just don’t have as much use for a big package as you used to.

Regardless of your reasons, don’t let someone talk you into a big package if it doesn’t fit your needs.

How Do You Measure Up?


This isn’t a competition.  I hope everyone reading this has a bigger package than me.  If you’re working with a tiny package and all your hard-earned money is going to the IRS, don’t despair!  Let this be the motivation you needed to take a more active role in your job’s benefits.  It’s time to stand at attention and let the world know you’d gladly trade your big paychecks for a bigger package.

What do you think?  Does your job have a lot of valuable benefits that slashes your tax bill?  Do big dollar signs distract you from tiny packages?  Share your thoughts and comments below.  


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19 thoughts on “How Big is Your Package?

  1. You look like you have a great benefit package SHS. The cash balance plan is especially wonderful given the larger amount of money you can put in it. I tried to get a cash balance plan in place at my work, but it was too cost prohibitive given the size of the group (70 physicians, but over 500 employees) that did not make if feasible. And if I recall, cash benefit plans have defined retirement payouts like a pension, correct? As a private multispecialty practice that I work in, the physicians are essentially “paying themselves” with the benefits given (so employee match etc is really my money paying me) so my benefits are not as impressive as someone who is salaried and gets a true employee match (of course being an eat what you kill system, I think I do come out way ahead in terms of my salary given my busy practice)


    1. The cash balance plan does have the option to pay out like a pension, but you also have the option to roll it into a 401k/IRA. Our group has ~15 docs and 10 PAs with no other employees so these benefits are much easier to administer.

      It would be difficult for any small business owner to be able to give that much package to 500 employees.


  2. Holy cow that’s a nice benefits package. I have pretty good health insurance coverage and a decent match (7%, bumps to 10% after 10 years employment), but it seems like you get a lot of reimbursements that are less common. Sounds like they treat you well!

    Best financial benefit of my workplace requires staying long enough for my kids to go to college. If accepted they get 8 semesters free tuition at my university. If they go elsewhere my U will pay 40% of the “then current” U tuition for any other institution. Tuition is currently ~$54,000. With 3 kids that could be $648,000 if all stayed at the U, but still $259,000 if they all go to another school. It’s not replacing my college savings, but at some point I may shift contributions away from 529 funds because of it.


  3. That’s a huge package!

    I’m lowly hospital employee. I wasn’t impressed with the package offered by my employer so I negotiated an increased rate to decline health, vision, dental, disability, and life benefits (~$30). I use my wife’s package for health vision and dental insurance and then purchased life and disability myself for a fraction of the cost. Granted the $30k is taxable income but I still come out ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My wife was a public school teacher for 15 years with an impressive package of her own.

      When I was a broke undergrad, we never imagined I would end up with such a big package.

      When it comes to non-financial compensation, some people are just growers.


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