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youngandthrifty talks about the perks of her past jobs and the perks of your job.

Whenever I talk to someone about what they do, I am always fascinated about the intricate details of their work, including the perks of the job. Call me nosy, but that stuff fascinates me!  This used to be even more fascinating for me back in high school and university, when I worked retail.  I liked knowing how much discount my friends were getting as employees for the product that they sold.

Yup.  I used to be obsessed about the discounts and the perks of working in retail.  I didn’t really work in a coveted retail store.  I was a service associate selling “grown up” clothes in a major department store.  I did get a uniform to wear (expensive suits and work wear) because we were supposed to wear the clothes to work, in order to promote the brand.  Being part-time, I was able to get two tops and a bottom, and I got 70% off certain items of clothing.  I know that seems like a lot, but the clothing was expensive.  I remember that the suit bottoms retailed for $249!

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I also remember in high school, working at a major Canadian retail store (it was Jacob) during the winter season one year.  It was a popular brand of clothing for young women and women alike, and I felt really proud that I worked there.  I was able to get 50% off if I bought their clothing.  I worked a ton of hours over the holiday season, and then they stopped calling me in for work sometime in January or so.  I remember bringing a friend in to shop in February, and I tried to use my discount to get her a sweater, but the sales associate (whom I didn’t know because it was a revolving door of service associates over there), curtly told me that my position had ended a while ago and therefore I was not eligible to receive a discount anymore.

I was crushed!  And not to mention embarrassed and humiliated.  But c’est la vie!  It was good while it lasted.  I don’t recall saving very much money though, because I spent it all on clothes.  I didn’t have much foresight as a 15 year old, I guess.  I suppose that is the pitfall of working somewhere where you love the product.  Nowadays I rarely step foot in the mall and get my clothes through clothes swaps instead.

In my current job, I don’t get any perks.  I do work a nine day fortnight though, which means I work extended hours but get one day off every two weeks to make up for it.  It’s nice to have a weekday off here and there.  I would love to travel for work and would consider that a perk, though some people who travel tons for work may beg to differ 🙂  I would also love to work from home a few times a week.  I think it would add so much more flexibility and productivity in the work place, I think there would be less people calling in “sick” or not coming to work because they need to run errands that they can only run on the weekdays.  That’s just my two cents though.

Readers, your turn! What are the perks of your job present or past?

Article comments

Helly says:

Nope, a completely different career track. I’m currently working in personnel– specifically, academic personnel (i.e. faculty, researchers, lecturers, as opposed to “regular” staff like me) and all the university rules and regulations that surround their processing, like hirings and promotions. So, no training/teaching yet… but that’s still my ultimate goal.

I came to the conclusion that HR/personnel would be a good fit not only for the highly structured/organized nature of the work (which I love), but because in most places, training types of jobs typically fall under HR. So I figured– why not break into the field at basically any starting point, and then work my way both up and laterally? I’d love to someday work for university HR, which is more like conventional HR in corporations, and not specific to academic vs. non-academic personnel. They have a training and development unit.

But in the meantime, I also do enjoy the other aspects of HR (except for recruiting, which is more of a sales-type position, and sales is definitely NOT for me! I’d rather stick with software engineering than do sales 😉 ) so I’m still enjoying the work and learning lots of new things while I figure out where I want to go as I gain more experience 🙂

Helly says:

I actually worked for Citrix Online. It IS a good place to work, which is why I held out for a year and a half, hoping something would come up internally. Something did come up in Training, but it ended up being shift work. And while a noon-8pm shift doesn’t sound bad to this night owl, it doesn’t really work when you have a family 🙁

It got to the point where I was really unmotivated about my job, even though I had the best co-workers and an awesome manager (a rarity, it seems!) So, so far it’s worth the trade-off 🙂

young says:

@Helly- Ahhh 12-8 shift is definitely not conducive for family life. Your wee one would be asleep by the time you get home 🙁 No wonder you’re so good with computers/ PHP etc. because you work in that industry 😉 So do you work in the same capacity but for the university now? (e.g. still with software engineering) or do you teach now?

Helly says:

I did read this entry when you first posted, but at the time I was transitioning out of my old job and into a new one, so I thought I’d wait until I’d settled in before I commented 🙂

I think I really took for granted the perks at my old job… until I got to my new job and they weren’t there anymore! There was free water– both hot and cold, fizzy and un-fizzy. There were tons of Tazo teas and different kinds of coffees and even hot chocolate. Plenty of Snapple, juices, lemonade, V-8 and various sodas in the fridge. There were snacks: Cheez-its, peanuts, granola bars, trail mix, pretzels etc… Every Wednesday the engineering group was treated to free bagels and cream cheese. And of course, there were plenty of things to use with your food– plates, bowls, plastic utensils, straws, paper towels…

And that was just the food.

There was a game room in each building, containing at least one big-screen TV (with DirecTV!) and some sort of game apparatus– we had a ping-pong table, another building had foosball, and yet another building had billiards. Oh, and all of the big screen TVs came equipped with Wii.

My former company was unique in that it allowed you to bring your dog to work. So I expanded on that and would bring my kid to work. I could just stuff him in the break room to let him do his homework and read, or simply watch TV. I only did it once a week, but so did my husband (who also worked at the same company). That meant 2 days a week we didn’t have to put our son in after-school care, which saved money.

The hours were pretty flexible– as long as you got your work done and were available during core hours (for meetings and whatnot), they didn’t care what hours you worked.

And of course, since our company MAKES remote collaboration software, it’s very flexible about working from home. I don’t have to take a sick day to care for a sick boy at home– I can put him to bed and continue working in the next room.

Well, I traded all that for a straight-up 8-to-5 job with the university. These days I even have to bring in my own water (since I don’t really feel like drinking the kitchen’s tap water– Santa Barbara water is hard!) I have to bring in my own snacks, and I can’t just steal away for a half hour during the day in order to pick up up my son (even if I were allowed to bring him to work with me, which is doubtful).

Whew! that turned into a blog post by itself, didn’t it! I do miss the perks of my old job, but it’s worth it to be working at a new job where I’m really in my element now 🙂

young says:

@Helly- OH MY GOODNESS> What perks! Did you work for Google or something? Glad you’re at a job where you feel your’e at your element 🙂 Though those previous job perks are amazing. I guess its all about what you value: challenge at work though tough and less perks or lots of perks and a job where you don’t feel 100% satisfied.

Free fruit, breakfast on a Thursday morning and drinks on a Friday afternoon. Good perks in my book!

young says:

@Harri- That’s awesome!! Free fruit? Your workplace sounds really healthy! Drinks as in alcoholic drinks? Because if so, can I work there? 😉

The Wealthy Canadian says:

@Y&T: I do have shares in Second Cup (SCU) but I don’t have a Second Cup in my area, only a Timmy’s.

Otherwise, I’d be buying Second Cup to keep it in the family so to speak 🙂 I’m going on vacation in the fall and I’ll definitely be going to Second Cup during that time frame.

You have a great memory! 😉

The Wealthy Canadian says:

I’ve always loved the perk of being able to go through the Tim Horton’s drive-through to get my caffeine fix in the middle of the morning or afternoon.

A lot of my work entailed being on call and on the move a lot, so being able to jump in my truck to take a few minutes to pick up a coffee was worth a lot to me at the time.

young says:

@The Wealthy Canadian- I think the freedom to do what you want is important (and not being stuck behind a cubicle) 🙂 You didn’t go to Second Cup? I remember you having Second Cup shares 😉

Country Girl says:

When I worked at a local cheese factory I got as many fresh and warm cheese curds as I desired, plus a decent discount on all the other cheese. My biggest perk with my current employers is that they let me take snow days – so when the roads are closed or in bad shape in the winter, they don’t mind if I work from home. My other work perk is an office with an ensuite bathroom – joy!

young says:

@Country Girl- One word comes to mind when I see “fresh warm cheese curds”- POUTINE!! Yum…! An office with an ensuite bathroom sounds really really nice and unheard of! What a unique perk 😉

We get free coffee 😉

young says:

@Invest it Wisely- What? No vodka? 😉

Bekki says:

I have absolutely no perks. Although during the school year I get about 32 hrs/week (that’s the max for our schedule), they like to keep us listed as “part-time.” And sometimes in the summer, we can get 40 hrs/week, although not this year for me. Is that even legal? To be getting over 30hrs/week and still be part time?

Anyway, why the heck didn’t Jacob call you and at least say “thanks but no thanks anymore?” Bad…

young says:

@Bekki- Yeah, Jacob wasn’t the best company to work for! Everyone was really catty there and really into fulfilling their daily quotas.

Two words: Free chips.

young says:

@Financial Uproar- One word: jealous.

Sarah says:

It’s actually 98/day for a two hour drive.. 1 hour each way.
The community has a hard time attracting professionals to go out there, so they offer the 98/day in hopes to get qualified people out there. I actually was planning on accepting even before I found out about that perk!

When I traveled with my other job, they covered everything.. flight, hotel and meals. It was nice. As much as I hated being away, I learned to be comfortable by myself.. going to dinner, movies at night.. etc. Great learning experience. 🙂

Brian says:

I am all about job perks too…I’ve had some good ones over the years although more experiential than material.

I worked at Cobs Bread for a few months after University and got $10 per shift to spend on product. I never had to buy bread!

After that, I worked for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, which was not as much fun as it sound, but I was able to visit any of the venues and attend events for free.

Now I work for an international non profit organization – I organize a lot of meetings internationally and in the past 10 months have travelled to Orlando, New York, the Netherlands and have a trip next month to Minnesota and Virginia (I live in Vancouver).

So far traveling for work is still fun, but definitely not as cool as just going to see the sights!

young says:

@Brian- I am so jealous of all your traveling!! And I thought that international non-profit jobs were NOT where its at but it sounds like the opposite 🙂 I did want to work for the Vancouver 2010 (or at least volunteer) too so I could get free swag lol.

Ritzboy says:

@young- We are in Montreal, QC :). Great blog by the way!

Ritzboy says:

I guess I have decent perks in my current job, it is just that the work hours are usually long and doing 40 hours is somewhat minimum *sigh*

In building government subsidized child daycare.
Free 24h Gym /w shower at work.
Free coffee/tea (Perk?)
Discount from bank insurance for House/Auto. (They did not say at what %)
Able to work from home sometimes
Free cellphone (Specific brand, have to return them when you quit, free upgrade every 18 months)
Phone bill covered by company (Max of $100)
Flexible work hours (usually min 40 hours a week)
$150 allowance to purchase phone accessories annually (Expense)

young says:

@Ritzboy- Cool! Thanks for sharing- I am thoroughly enjoying this voyeuristic post of mine 😉 Sounds like cell phone/ phone companies are where its at?

Sarah says:

I work as a mental health and addictions counsellor in a remote First Nations reserve. It’s about an hour one way from the small town in which we live.

Alot of perks though.. Every other Friday, which is payday, they let staff leave at 2PM to run their errands.
They shut down at Christmas for two weeks, and I get paid. Someone also mentioned that they shut down for a week in March as well.
And, they provide 98.00/day from travel costs.. it makes the drive a lot more bearable, I have to say 🙂

I use to work for another place and I was traveling once a month to various places in BC. Being a new resident, it was a great way to see the province. However, the perk soon became a hassle. Hotel rooms and eating out lose their glory pretty fast. So I would defiantly say it’s not a perk in my books. I like my hubby, dog and my own bed way too much. 😛

young says:

@Sarah- Wow, $98 to drive for an hour? That’s a fantastic travel allowance, I must say! Did they cover hotel and eating costs? I know what you mean- there is no place like home! It would be hard to work away from home for such an extended period of time. I would call that an un-perk hehe.

In my current job we get discounts at certain businesses which is great. I also can get holidays whenever I want and work my own hours. I am pretty fortunate.

young says:

@Miss T- Holidays whenever you want and you get to work your own hours. Oh man… can I have your job?! It almost sounds like you work for yourself!

Two Degrees says:

I worked a seasonal shift for Holt Renfrew and while everyone raved about the ‘perk’ of getting a discount there, I actually never used it.

Well, I bought a box of cookies and some chocolates for others, but the idea of a perk can be very relative from one person to another. The sad thing is that there are several coworkers I know who have serious credit card debt. So while they may love the bonus of getting a discount, they don’t realize it’s actually been the cause of their financial downfall.

young says:

@Two Degrees- How much was the discount at Holt Renfrew? Did it vary from “house” brand stuff to the designer stuff? e.g. I’m sure you can’t get 40% off a box of cookies AND 40% off a Louis Vuitton bag, right? 🙂 Yeah, I have a friend who works for a high end designer brand from Italy, and I think she gets 50% off. But it’s like 50% off a $750 sweater hahah…

I know- the perils of working in the retail industry is that you are tempted to shop all the time. When I was working in retail, I would think about how many hours of work (I made $9.50 an hour) it would take to pay off the pants/shorts/top/jacket I was eyeing and that would usually stop me from splurging.

Untemplater says:

One of my previous jobs used to have free pizza lunches once a month and in office parties for holidays like Halloween. My current job doesn’t have many perks now because of budget cuts but there is free hot chocolate! -Sydney

young says:

@Untemplater- free hot chocolate, eh? That’s great! Do people usually take advantage of this perk on a regular basis?

Melissa says:

The biggest perk of my job is that my time is extremely flexible. I can work from home whenever I want (I don’t do it often, because I don’t like it, but the option is nice), I don’t have to come in at a specific time in the morning, I can leave early once in a while if I want to, and when I work overtime, I’m allowed to keep track of my hours and take time off at a later date (in lieu of overtime pay), which means I usually get 2-3 days off with pay every quarter, without having to dip into my vacation time. Not too shabby! My boss also closed the office for Christmas last year, so I got 12 days off with pay.

Then there are just the perks that go with the industry that I’m in. There are tons of journalism parties (all super fun and great for meeting people), I can request a copy of just about any book I was “for review,” I get to spend my days learning about a variety of things I didn’t know about before. When you consider all of that to be perks, my job is like 95% perk.

young says:

@Melissa- It sounds like you love your job! It’s so great to hear such passion- I would love to view my job as 95% perk. But I can’t haha… I sometimes get books to review on this blog though, which is fun 🙂 it makes me feel like a “big shot” LOL. Where are the journalism parties usually held? I imagine it to be in a swanky place, with suave people buzzing about, holding cocktails in hand. 🙂

I get to use the gym at work, free coffee & soda pop, some fruits, not too bad. Pretty disappointing employee discount of around 10% for laptops and that kind of things.

young says:

@retirebyforty- 10% off for laptops? Wow that’s not very good. But the free gym, fruit, coffee sounds good! Though I don’t think companies make very much for laptops. BF used to work for an electronic chain company and his discount was cost +10%. Some things were a great deal (like accessories, home stereo systems, SD cards) but some things weren’t. I don’t think laptops was one of them- there isn’t very much margin at all on them, I think.

The $60K Project says:

I must say I get very good perks from my company. My cell phone, home internet and home phone are all paid for (I’m a telecommuter). We also get $340 a year in gift cards just from logging our healthy behaviors into an online program. Our company also closes the entire week of Christmas so no one has to use vacation that week. Pretty great but we definitely pay for it in overtime hours worked!

young says:

@The $60K Project- wow that’s awesome! Does that mean you can’t claim “work from home” expenses on your income taxes if your company pays for it? (Well, the only thing I guess you could claim for is electricity and rent, since the phone and internet are paid for already?). Do people every “cheat” for the healthy behaviours- how do they know if you’ve really done it or not if its an online program? 🙂

I’m pretty sure that being a teacher is the ultimate in job parks. Great holidays (usually about 180-190 school day a year), excellent benefits (in Canada at least), lot of horizontal movement opportunities, plenty of travel-while-working opportunities, etc. One thing that we definitely can’t complain about!

young says:

@My University Money- Uhh YEAHHH I would LOVE to have 2 months of the summer off. The only downside to that is you would have to pay peak fares if you traveled. But it is so nice to be able to get the summer off if you have children. Teachers have the option of working in summer school too, right? So if you wanted the extra cash, you could work.

Echo says:

I miss the perks of being in the hotel industry. Now I cringe every time I have to pay more than $50 for a nice hotel room (not to mention we would also get 50% off food & beverage in the hotel).

young says:

@Echo- 50% food and beverage in the hotel??! That’s awesome- especially if you get to check in at fancy hotels! What a perk 🙂 I can’t believe how expensive hotels are these days. You know what industry I would probably love working in (for the perks primarily)- the airline industry! I would love to pay 10% of a full fair ticket and travel anywhere I want 🙂 You know, my mom used to tell me (when I was a kid) that I should be a flight attendant so she can get airline ticket discounts.

Ginger says:

My husbands job gives us a discount on our cell phone service. We also can get a discount on renting cars from enterprise.

young says:

@Ginger- Awesome! Do you get a big discount for the cell phone service? That’s always very helpful- monthly costs can add up and its a nice feeling to be able to talk on the phone/ use data for cheap!

Obsessive Compulsive Daniela says:

I work at a university and we get 1.5-2 weeks off over the Christmas holidays on top of our regular vacation. We have summer hours in July and August, meaning we get to leave at 4:30 instead of 5 every day. We also have access WorkPerks, which is basically a bunch of deals offered by companies, like Wonderland and restaurants, etc. And I know we can get super cheap cell phone deals through Bell.

To top it off my manager is pretty sweet and she gets us gift certificates for Christmas, birthdays, and admin professional day. And we get chocolates on other events like Easter and Halloween.

That’s a lot of perks, when I see it written down like that!

young says:

@Obsessive Compulsive Daniela- Yeah! I would love to leave at 4:30 every day- there’s just so much to do in the summer and it sucks (for me) to work until 5:30 to 6:00 every day. Your manager sounds really nice- gift certificates and acknowledgement is always appreciated. The other day, our middle manager guy bought us ice cream. It was the ONLY meeting that everyone showed up to on time hahaha..