Ask these crucial money questions first, before you accept any job offer – no matter how badly you want it. We get the experts to weigh in on the details that you really need to know.
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1. ARE THERE LOANS AVAILABLE?
Why it matters: You could get loans for big-ticket expenses, such as a car, housing and education.
Get the low-down: Find out the application criteria and ask if the loans will be terminated if you leave the company – you might face a penalty fee to redeem the loan. Ask about interest rates, so you can calculate how much you’ll save compared to borrowing from banks or insurance companies.
2. DO I GET ANY ALLOWANCES?
Why it matters: You could be reimbursed for transport, entertainment, laptop, mobile phone, travel and clothing expenses.
Get the low-down: Find out what’s included and how much you need to co-pay. Check if you must make claims for your spending or if you’ll get a fixed monthly allowance.
Allowances, which are part of your salary, are CPF deductible. If you’ll have to make claims, find out how frequently submissions can be made and how long the company will take to reimburse you.
3. WHAT ARE MY MEDICAL BENEFITS?
Why it matters: It affects your health protection and expenses, which can add up to a costly sum.
Get the low-down: Most companies offer a basic health benefits package that covers hospitalisation and clinic visits, and personal accident and life insurance. You might also get dental benefits and medical coverage for your immediate and extended family members. Check if there are maternity benefits that subsidise the cost of prenatal checkups and delivery. Ask how much the company will cover and the amount you will have to co-pay. For instance, you might be given a cap of $20 per clinic visit, and have to pay for the rest.
4. AM I ELIGIBLE FOR STOCK OPTIONS?
Why it matters: These are contracts that let you buy or sell a specific stock at a specific price within a certain time period. Companies may give them to you as a reward, or as compensation for a lower salary. Companies that offer stock options tend to be small and medium enterprises. If the company has the potential to be publicly listed or acquired, stock options may give you a better return on investment. But it’s still safer to go for a higher salary instead of a lower one with stock options.
Get the low-down: Most companies only offer stock options after you have worked there for a year or two, so find out when they’ll be awarded to you. Ask about the amount of company stocks you are entitled to, and how and when you can buy and sell them.
5. CAN I TAKE TIME OFF?
Why it matters: It’ll give you an idea if the company is okay with sabbaticals – or, if you’re planning to further your studies, if it values further education and training.
Get the low-down: If you want to do a full-time degree, find out if your fees can be sponsored or subsidised, and if there will be a bond attached. Check if you’ll be restricted to courses directly related to your work and if you have to maintain a particular grade. If you’re considering part-time training, ask how flexible work timings are and whether you can receive full or partial sponsorship.
This story was originally published in Her World magazine April 2013.