Worth of Benefits

Subject: Worth of Benefits
From: Melissa Hunter-Kilmer <mhunterk -at- BNA -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 10:47:40 EST

On Sun, 16 Feb 1997, Daniel Wise <dewise -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM> wrote:

> In the digest for Feb. 13-14, Mike Uhl tells us to "do the atrithmetic." He
> asks "How much are those benefits worth?"
> Mike, in my case they were worth 48% of my annual base salary, which was in
> the middle five-figures. That is a considerable sum. Now that I have
> accepted an early retirement package from my employer, they are still worth
> over $400 a month just in medical insurance. And I am also collecting that
> pension I worked 21 years to get.

I have also done the math and found it unpersuasive in my case. Every year, my
delightful company (which can read my mail any time it wants, because our e-mail
is considered corporate property) gives me three paid personal days, ten paid
holidays, thirteen paid sick days, four weeks of paid vacation. (In two years,
I will get five weeks of vacation.) It also pays my health and dental insurance
(as well as for my dependents, though that may change after the current round of
contract bargaining) and most of the life insurance premiums on a policy that
would pay twice my yearly salary to my beneficiary.

Okay, that's pretty good, but what *really* convinces me is that I have four
minor children and a dependent husband. Said husband suffers from severe
depression and cannot work outside the home, at least at this time. I have
asthma. Both of us need lots of medication to keep us relatively healthy. My
company has a prescription plan so that we never pay more than $10 per
prescription, and we can get a 90-day supply at a time. Folks, medicine for
depression and asthma can be expensive, but not for us.

Moreover, I'm enrolled in a 401(k) that buys only stock in our company, which is
owned by the employees. This stock has never gone down in value, almost always
pays a dividend, is not at all volatile, and is averaging a 13% return in the
last few years if you re-invest the dividends.

I've been here for 12 years, and I'd like to stay for at least another 16
years, when I should be able to retire. (Yes, we get a pension, too.)
Contracting just wouldn't pay for me, at least until my kids are grown and my
husband has recovered. It works out beautifully for my co-worker, who is
single and fairly healthy.

It all jives with some of my basic Rules for Living:

1. Figure out what works _for you._

2. Do it.

3. Repeat forever.

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer
mhunterk -at- bna -dot- com
(standard disclaimer)

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