A reader knows salary isn't the only way to make money.

Question: I suppose I have a very good problem. I’ve been offered two jobs. One is a promotion within my own company, while the other is a job of similar grade and pay at a competitor in another state.

It’s so hard to figure out which is better for me financially:

1. While the salaries being offered are very similar, the benefits are very different. One has cheaper healthcare but the other offers lower deductibles.

2. The out-of-state company will pay for my moving expenses, but I’ll have to pay to break my current lease, and I’m not sure what rents will be like in the new city.

How do I compare apples to apples, Mr. Dvorkin?

— Katrina in Illinois

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

First, congratulations on multiple job offers. Besides the birth of a first child, I can’t think of a stressful situation that’s more satisfying.

Second, I applaud you for realizing a salary isn’t the only measure of a job’s potential earnings. Benefits can add to – or subtract from – your paycheck in significant and surprising ways.

In fact, I was just reading a fascinating report about benefits. (I realize this may not be fascinating for normal people, but what can I say, I enjoy this stuff.) The insurance firm AFLAC – you’ve probably seen (and heard) the duck mascot – just issued its annual Workforces Report. The big conclusion: “58 percent of employees say they’re at least somewhat likely to take a job with a slightly lower salary but a more robust benefits package.”

Of course, figuring out how to “compare apples to apples” is increasingly difficult as benefits packages get more complex. For that, Katrina, you don’t need a CPA like me. You need to consult your Human Resources department first. That’s because…

One of the best-kept secrets for saving money is your Human Resources department. 

Many employees rarely consult HR after they get hired, and then only to inquire about health plans. They don’t ask about health savings accounts or even retirement savings options. HR can even set up split direct deposits, a little-known trick to save money that I wrote about last year.

For you, Katrina, HR can answer many of your questions at each company. You need to acquire the entire benefits package from both companies and study them. However, your journey for an “apples to apples comparison” has just begun. Among the other questions you need to answer…

  • What is the cost of living difference between these two job locations?
  • Does one city and state charge more (or any) income tax?
  • Will commuting involve more toll roads and more time idling in traffic and burning gas?

The bottom line, Katrina, is that you’ll need to invest a few hours of research. Then again, this research is all about making more money for you, so it’s definitely not boring. Good luck!

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC