7 Things That Make My $30K Salary Worth It

I would consider myself very lucky. I graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree and, without a lot of effort, landed a job in my field within a month. But let me preface this by saying this was NOT the job I thought I would accept.

While job searching, I was clearly living in a millennial pink fog believing that I would work in an open-space industrial office surrounded my MacBooks and an espresso machine. I had many expectations that quickly changed once I entered the real workforce. But the biggest realization: I thought I would be making more money.

While I could dwell on that, I know that in my field, I am one of the few with job stability and a 401k. So until I make the big bucks, these seven benefits make working on a $30K salary a lot easier.

1. PTO

Never was I ever more appreciative of my vacation days than this Thanksgiving. My mom, who works in sales, had to leave dinner early and go to work at 4 PM and work through the Black Friday weekend. My whole life, vacations, holidays, birthdays and graduations have been at the mercy of her schedule and limited time off. Maybe I am not in my dream job, but being able to go home at 5 PM, take a sick day, go on vacation, and spend holidays resting from the comfort of home means so much to me.

2. Free advice from CPAs

I work at a non-profit that supports the CPAs in our state, and so by default, I am surrounded by lots of very smart and very money-savvy people. Just the other day, I came to my boss (and my mentor, who is a CPA and whose job has nothing to do with design, but she’s a badass female leader) with a budgeting question, and she spent time helping me come up with a solution to my overspending on food. And, when I told her a month later that I had stuck to the budget and not gone over, she gave me a big hug and applauded. Having money-smart people in your corner is key, but having people who cheer on your financial goals: priceless.

3. A relaxed, non-micromanaging boss

If you’re like me, you might have a slight problem with authority. So it’s by sheer luck that I get to work with a boss that treats me less like her assistant and more like a team member. While I really like my office, some co-workers at my job are at the mercy of their supervisor asking every 20 mins, “So where are you on this task?” I wouldn’t like my job or be nearly as productive if she didn’t give me the space (and respect) to create. I encourage anyone to be in tune with their work style and seek out a supervisor and work environment that makes them feel valued.

4. Investment in my personal development

My work is currently transitioning CEOs, which prompted my boss and me to sit down and talk about how to create our dream job at work. We went through our skills and what we are passionate about and she plans to take this to our new CEO and reorganize our mini-department so that she and I can work on projects that fulfill our own creative goals. Outside of our daily projects, in the six months since I was hired I have attended (for free) a week-long design conference (and got paid for it) and a women’s leadership conference (which my work hosted). It’s more rewarding to work for leadership that wants to invest in me as an employee and a person.

 5. Insurance, Insurance, Insurance

I cannot tell you the weight that has lifted off my shoulders since I got full medical and dental insurance. My parents stopped at nothing to provide my necessities, but for the first time in my life, my health is in my control. After a small health scare a few months back, I was thrilled to be able to pay the bill in full. Before, a $400 bill would have sent me into a panic, but thanks to my employer and my funded HSA, I got the medical tests I needed. No more having to weigh the costs of lab tests or put off medically necessary exams. I know my body best, and my insurance allows me to take control of my health.

6. My own office

It was a total (and incredible!) surprise when on my first day, one of my coworkers showed me to my office. My office?! I had only interviewed for my job once, and I didn’t realize that each employee had their own private office. I didn’t expect such a luxury on such an entry-level salary, but my office has quickly become my haven. As a creative in a non-creative office, I took the time to add mood boards on the walls with constant graphic design inspiration. I brought in all my favorite design books to fill my bookshelf. My office is a place I genuinely like going to in the morning. I love sitting down with my coffee and my planner and being productive in this space.

7. Tons of free food

My office environment is a cornucopia of free food. Our break room is always stocked with candy, chips, fruit and any soda or coffee you could imagine. On top of this, our office is always holding a meeting or a class and often orders lunch, breakfast, or dinner for the team members. This adds up to hundreds of dollars of free food in my budget. As I write this, I am snacking on a turkey sandwich and pickle from a lunch that got canceled this morning. Out of all the amazing benefits my job brings, this may sound like the most trivial — but any chance I get to save my lunchbox contents for that night’s dinner is literally money and time I save instantly. Plus, I never have to let hunger pains get in the way of a productive day.

Katherine is a content creator and graphic designer living in Louisville. When she’s not working, you will find her cuddling her spunky Chiweenie, Lucy.

Image via Unsplash

  • This is a delightful look at fringe benefits!

  • Holly

    I worked at a company that had a lot of these benefits and agree with the free food. Though they didn’t order sandwiches for meetings or anything, every week fruit, popcorn, and salads were delivered. Definitely miss being able to grab an apple or whatever when hunger struck

  • Allie Cleve

    Loved this article! I’m also making A LOT less money than I thought I would at this point in my life (graduated with a masters degree 18 months ago) but I have superiors who not only support me but have a vision for my career and are helping to get me there, plus there’s free drinks and food which makes such a difference to my budget as well since I work 9am-8pm most days so spend the vast majority of my time at the office!

  • V Williams

    Loved this article! I think sometimes we have to look at the whole picture and appreciate the moment we’re in… insurance, PTO, etc. are huge benefits.

    I have to ask – what was your boss’s suggestion to overspending on food?

    • Katherine Sproles

      Hey V!
      My boss suggested I do a cash diet JUST for restaurants. So each week I take out $20-$40 in cash and use only that for fast food, drinks, restaurants etc. I found that breaking it down into what I could spend that week instead of looking at my food budget for the WHOLE month worked perfectly.

      • V Williams

        Thank you! Great tip😊

  • PalePinkBeauty

    Yes! Having a good boss and work environment helps so much!! 🙂