Why Being Married Rocks #52368416

Since getting laid off in February 2009 (damn you Great Recession!), I’ve been doing contract work and getting unemployment between gigs to make ends meet. I’ve been a contractor at my current plantation since last July.  Working contract is great in one way because the money is normally very nice if you have a good hourly rate. The downside is that if you don’t work you don’t get paid, so there’s no vacation or sick time. My 401K is still at my old employer and I haven’t made any contributions to it at all. And of course contractors get no benefits, and if they are offered through your agency, they are HELLA expensive and bare bones policies at best. While no job is EVER truly permanent, there are some benefits to being a full time employee. And right about now, my priorities and thought processes have definitely shifted from where I was as single woman to where I am now as a wife and hopefully, a mother.

My manager came to me yesterday with an offer to come aboard full time, but it was several thousand dollars less than my annualized contract rate. She mentioned that she’d love to have me come on full time but wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay contract based on what she was able to offer me. The single me would have probably gotten an anxiety attack trying to make the best decision so that I could pay the bills. The married me was able to call her husband and walk through the pros and cons and run down the hard dollar figures related to going permanent vs staying as a contractor.  It’s a wonderful, fabulous, marvelous thing to have someone by your side to help you make  important life decisions.

After I talked to hubs, I floated the scenario to my Twitter peeps and the majority of the responses were in favor of taking the lower base salary permanent job as opposed to staying contract. Apparently, stability, vacation, benefits and 401Ks are what’s hot in these employment streets right about now! LMAO!!!! And many thanks to The Travel Diva for this informative post that helped me do an apples to apples comparison. Ya’ll know I’m an accountant so I had to work it out!

So I’m curious as to what ya’ll would say: contract gig at higher rate but no benefits or full time job that pays pretty decently (but less than a contract gig) with benefits/vacation time/ holidays/401K??

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25 thoughts on “Why Being Married Rocks #52368416

  1. I think someone said it best, different strokes for different folks. If i were in your position I would go with the permanent job, because I heart stability and benefits.

    But if you can get benefits from your husband then the would provide relief on that regard and you can continue with the contracting at the higher pay rate.

  2. I know I replied to this on twitter – but that was 140 or less, LOL.

    If I could get on my hubby’s insurance, I would go contract. But since he’s self employed, he’s on my insurance. As far as vacation and 401k – usually the contract rate is nice enough that I can handle not getting paid if I don’t work AND it covers the matching benefits of the 401k.

    But I think Keyalus touched on the main reason I would go with the perm position if I were you – TTC. I think you’ll need all the benefits you can get when that time comes.

  3. The answer is not simple or the same for everybody. Like I said in my post and you did youself, you have to compare apples to apples and crunch the math. Then you can make an informed decision on which form of compensation works out best for your situation.

  4. Definitely the full time job. Stability and I are cool like that.

  5. Hi, First time poster-I like reading your blog.

    What you may want to consider is as a contractor, are you entitled to unemployment benefits? I don’t know the rules in your state, but to get unemployment, you have to have worked a certain amount of time (X number of weeks in a specific amount of time) in order to qualify for unemployment benefits if you are let go. Contractors and temporary employees are often not eligible for unemployment. Since you were a full time employee prior to your lay off, you met the requirements for unemployment. However, eventually your eligibility for unemployment may run out-and if the contract gig dries up you may no longer be eligible for unemployment. Just something you may want to investigate.

  6. crunch the numbers. then go from there. companies take in to consideration benefits (assuming you need them) before they present an offer. I know in some cases, if you dont need benefits, you sign a waiver an additional $$ are added to your salary.
    in the end – crunch the numbers and look at your entire situation before deciding

  7. I did contract work for a while. The money was great but stability (or at least the thought of it) is even better.

  8. Shoot, I had those GOOD gov’t benefits for 2 yrs and didn’t appreciate them at ALL until I got back into school and went back to being broke and sans benefits.

    This has definitely been a lesson in how important benefits are and I think they’re more important than wages, in some ways, especially if you have kids…

  9. If I were you I would go on my husband’s insurance and ride the contract train until I could afford not. If you are planning on having children in the near future I would accept the full time position.

  10. So many things come into play but if you have no pre-existing conditions then you are straight as far as medical/insurance coverage because you wouldn’t get a bunch of ish when you need to enroll.

    As long as you and hubby talked and you crunched the numbers and they work for you and your family, then it’s the best thing for you. No situation will play out the same and the fact that they offered you a FT gig is a testament to your work. Definitely compare the benefit plans because it may be more cost effective to be on his plan or vice versa. compare all copays, hospital coverage, etc. Also, since you are considering being a mom, you can also compare single coverage at your job even if you are on hubby’s insurance as a backup/2nd insurance. A lot of my staff do that now. They are on their spouses insurance and have our insurance for self or self +children as backup insurances

    Congrats on the FTE!

  11. I agree with everyone else. I would crunch the numbers as you did. You do have the benefit of being able to go onto your husband’s insurance. If you have the info though compare the costs of his company’s family policy (since you are TTC) to yours. At my job, insuring myself is a great deal – when I had to insure the whole family it *sucked*. The Mister’s insurance offerings are 50x better than my job’s.

    Also consider down time between finding contract gigs. If it takes you 2-4 weeks to find another position and it is a short-term contract that is a big chunk of missing money.

    And again, considering TTC – full time employment might allow you some company paid maternity leave. You can buy short-term disability policies on your own but they are not cheap at all and must be in place well before pregnancy.

  12. Benefits is the bizness!! After you add in those and the vacay and the 401K, you will probably have something comparable to what you had before. I would say FT is the way to go.

  13. When I moved to L.A. I had the option of being full time salaried or getting a negotiated percentage of settlements. I took the latter. It felt closer to self employment. I have a pre-existing condition and even when I was on my parents’ insurance I had seperate health coverage. When we got married I took his insurance and still kept my own.

    Obamacare has potentially jacked up my insurance situation. My husband has coverage through VA and I have coverage but because its specialized for pre existing conditions you cannot buy coverage for your kids. Due to Obamacare CA insurers no longer issue child only policies. If their policy went up we would not be able to shop around. So consideration of health care changes could potentially impact my choice on taking salary or contract.

  14. I’d definitely take the permanent gig. It’s not like you’re living in this world on your own.

  15. I would run the numbers. It’s really that simple for me. And if you’ve been at a place as a contractor for some time, especially on the finance side, you likely have a full plate of information to really crunch those numbers.

    I will say, now that I’m married the insurance issue is not so pressing in my mind. Previously, I would have been likely to take the salary cut just for the health insurance. Now, while that’s not an issue I would have to think about the tax benefits of the 401K as well as employer match, cost difference in insurance plans (based on who carries us), growth opportunities (do they exist for contractors), bonus eligibility.

    For many companies, the benefits alone are worth a significant percentage of your salary. So while they company may decrease your pay, they actually may be increasing their cost of having you. Just make sure you’re actually reaping the benefits.

  16. I’d definitely take the FT w/ benefits, etc.

  17. I think I’d have to run the numbers as well. However, I would be more inclined to go with the salaried position given all the other perks that come with working for some companies.

  18. You know you could have asked that question without rubbing it in my face that you all happily married and ish. **running.from.the.room, then passes out** Hell, I’m too old to run and laugh at the same time. ROFL.

  19. I was a contractor making a sick rate for exactly a year. I have a pre-existing condition so I have to have health insurance. I did the math for what I would get paid if I did that same job (looked at salary surveys for my market, company size, education, etc.) and came to the conclusion that even if I paid for my own insurance, was in charge of my own savings, etc, I still made SIGNIFICANTLY more than I would if I was a full-time employee. I also calculated the cost of freedom as I worked from home 60% of the time. If I had a spouse, I wouldn’t even have to pay for health insurance. He could put me on his, put more in his 401K and my income would supplement the difference with my income. Also, I was 1099 so i wasn’t paying taxes and got to charge off damn near everything when tax time came. Lastly, there is no such thing as job stability. The state I live in is an At-Will state which means you can be let go at any time. It doesn’t have to be a budget or performance issue.

    • My train of thought is similar to yours.

      I am working towards self-employment, so the more I can rack up in actual dollars the better it is for my particular case… And the faster I get to be where I need to be… Being on contract gives me the opportunity to take days off when needed to work on my own gig and gives me a better sense of what it would be like when I am fully on my own.

      I think it really depends on what the long term goals/situations are.

  20. I would take the permanent position with the benefits over the contract position. Even though your dollar amount as a contractor may be higher, not having things like medical, vacation & retirement benefits (which you still have to pay for one way or the other) will significantly decrease that dollar amount you get as a contractor.

    When I started my first “real” job, my company had a feature in our HR tool that showed you the true cost of your employment – your salary, vacation, medical, & retirement benefits, plus all the extra perks we got. And it was easily an additional $25K.

  21. The vacation, holidays, 401k, and benefits are part of the salary package. If you think about it, what you would spend on those independently the contract salary would equal your lower salary plus those benefits. Full-time stability is a wonderful thing, and you can’t beat a retirement investment like a 401k. They are the best.

    And yes, it is wonderful to have someone to lean on and talk to about major life decisions.

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