Putting a Price Tag on Perks

Putting a Price Tag on Perks

There are two ways to have more money: earn more or spend less. In Workamping terms, earning more comes down to salary, and spending less is the perks that accompany the opportunity. If you don’t spend as much on living expenses, it’s more money in your pocket. But when comparing job opportunities, placing a monetary value on job incentives is tricky.

Most jobs offer “full hookup” as compensation. If you go to the park’s website, you can usually figure the value of the site, based on season and site location. But even figuring the value of the full hookup can be complicated. I see job ads offering limited electricity per month, or a monthly credit towards the electric cost. Since there’s no way of knowing what your average electric bill will be, even the cost of the site becomes more difficult to calculate.

There are perks and park amenities that are just like money. Free use of the laundry: If I do three loads a week, is about ten dollars I don’t have to spend. Propane at the park’s cost saves me about ten percent; more valuable in winter when my heater runs, but still calculable. The park I live in has reliable Wifi, so I cancelled my $70 per month hot spot. Acceptable cable television is a $75 monthly savings over the satellite I was using. These reductions in living expenses are pretty straight forward. I have to do laundry, cook and heat my RV, email friends and family, and watch television.

But the $50 per month meal allowance at the on-site cafe is not as simple. It’s not $50 less in groceries; that $6.95 sandwich is probably $2.00 or so in actual food. But it is a meal that doesn’t come out of my food budget, and eating out is part of my recreation budget. Then there’s the free ice cream cone every day. If it were not free, I wouldn’t eat ice cream every day (and would probably weigh ten pounds less), but I would indulge once in a while. Camp store discounts - a pretty common perk - fall into this “partially-countable” category. You can’t count the whole discount because while you would spend less than other guests at the camp store, the camp store price is likely more than a discount store.

The “quality-of-life” perks are the most difficult to place a value on. If there’s an empty seat on the airboat at the park, I can ride for free. It’s a $45 value, but I can’t add that to my recreation budget every time, because I wouldn’t go as often if I had to pay. Waterfront or marina opportunities that allow free use of the watercraft, resort jobs that provide free golf or “resort amenities”, and VIP passes to local attractions fall into the “quality of life” category. You don’t have to ride an airboat, kayak, play golf, soak in a hot tub, or visit tourist spots to live, but if you are not having fun Workamping you might as well be in a cubicle answering phones. What’s the price tag on fun?

The best way to evaluate an opportunity is to read the ad carefully (sometimes what it doesn’t say is as important as what it does), ask questions of the employer, read the Workamper forums, and keep your fingers crossed. Fortunately, if the position doesn’t work out financially, it’s not a lifetime commitment.

With a little homework, you may find a position in a beautiful location, with a good employer, great coworkers, and lots of opportunities for fun, and that is truly priceless.

Submitted to Workamper News by Workamper Sharon Kay