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The title of this one pretty much sums it all up – last week I was offered $15k and I turned it down, and I don’t regret it. Yes, that $15k (probably closer to $10k after taxes – but still a lot of money) would have gone a long way towards helping me achieve my three main aspirations – financial independence, location independence, and contentment – but unfortunately, the strings attached to the money made it a bad deal.
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As I may have mentioned before, I don’t really enjoy my job. Because of that I’ve been searching on and off for a new one for a while now. About a month ago I was sitting in bed looking through job listings and I came across one that sounded amazing. The company was intriguing, the job looked like the right blend of what I was searching for, I wouldn’t be on the road every week, and the commute was workable. I immediately applied for the job, along with three others at the same company.
In less than a week I received an email from a manager indicating that they wanted to setup a phone interview. From that phone interview I had to complete a complicated case study. Once I passed those two rounds I was brought in for a day of interviews with various department managers. The next Wednesday (last week) I was called and presented with an offer, which included a $10k signing bonus. Considering the size of the company (massive) this all happened very quickly and relatively painlessly. Unfortunately, it was at this point that the size and rigidity of the company came into play….
Back and Forth
I have over five years of post-college experience and am in a good position at my current company with an excellent salary and benefits package. I knew going into the interview process that this new company had a reputation for not paying its employees as well as others, but the benefits were supposed to more than make up for that. After the final interviews the hiring manager emailed me to ask about my current salary information and I broke Ramit’s rule and told them. Imagine my surprise when the initial job offer came through and it was almost $20k LESS than I’m currently making!!! Also, they wanted me to come in at a more junior role with the expectation that I would be promoted in 12-18 months and get a $2-$6k salary bump in the process…which would still leave me WAY short of my current salary. In addition, I’d lose a lot of vacation (this new company only offered 2 weeks vacation) and they don’t have a bonus plan, so the signing bonus would be my only bonus for a LONG time.
After explaining some of my concerns to the hiring manager he went away to see what he could do, and did come back with a revised offer that would make me eligible for a promotion in 6 months (down from 12-18) and increased the signing bonus to $15k, but the salary and role were fixed at their meager levels. Part of me wanted to take the bonus and run – $15k up front can be a powerful motivator and would help me become financially independent much quicker – but of course, once you realize that in less than a year you’re in a worse position it looks like a much crappier deal. As my current salary is almost $20k more than this job offer, I know that in 9 months I’ll be in a better position than if I had taken the job.
Maybe Next Time
When faced with decisions like this, you have to make sure you look at how they’re going to impact your financial situation in the short term as well as the long term. I know plenty of people who would have jumped at the opportunity to take the $15k up front so they could pay off debt, buy a car, or do something similar. What these people don’t realize is, that if they would just take a long-term view, they would be much better off.
As I said before, I didn’t take the job, so I didn’t get the signing bonus… which sucks. I was definitely pumped up about it, so I’m a little down in the dumps that it didn’t work out. I honestly would have probably taken a lower salary than I’m currently earning, but my wife and I just weren’t willing to take such a dramatically lower salary when there was no need. This job scored about an 8 out of 10 overall, if it had been a 10 out of 10, then who knows. Until I find that 10 out of 10, I’ll keep saving, spending wisely, and investing consistently. Because if that 10 out of 10 job does come up and wants to pay me 1/2 of what I make now – I want the flexibility to be able to take it. One of my aspirations – and the first one I have listed – is to be financially independent, and it’s for this very reason. Oh well, there’s always next time!
I hope you are setting yourself and your family up to be able to turn down $15k and not regret it. If not – what changes do you need to make to your life to get there? Let me know if I can help!
Thanks for the pic!