Recently, Mapgirl’s 401(k) balance surpassed the $20,000 balance milestone. That’s not small accomplishment for less than two years on the job. For comparison, I’ve been investing in my 401(k) for more than five years now, and my balance is only approaching $40,000 including company match. I started investing only 4% of my salary and have recently increased to 25%, which I can only do thanks to other income.
It’s interesting to see how companies use future payoffs with the intent of retaining employees. For example, when I became fully vested in my company match, after working at the company for three years, I felt better about the possibility leaving the company. If I had quit at two years and 350 days, I would have missed out on thousands of dollars in company match. It wouldn’t make much sense unless I could negotiate a new job offer for a higher salary to take that into account.
Following this thought process further, if I could negotiate a higher salary or other benefit for that reason, I should be able to do so for any reason, making it again a loss to leave before fully vested.
Within a year after becoming fully vested, the company presented a new carrot for its employees: an associates stock grant. A good amount of stock was given to employees but the shares wouldn’t vest until 2009. At the time, it was pretty far in the future, so it’s a part of compensation that would be easily to forget about while negotiating a salary at a new job.
Are you less likely to look for new work if leaving your current company would mean leaving money on the table?
Updated December 20, 2011 and originally published May 31, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.