The End of the Perks // Preparing to Say Goodbye to the Upside of Work

I’m writing this post from an upscale hotel suite, at the end of a day that started with a lovely restaurant breakfast where I didn’t think about what things cost before ordering them. A pretty average work travel day.

A wonderful breakfast, paid for by work
The restaurant breakfast that kicked off the day.

But like most work days generally, it passed like a whirlwind, and if I had a moment to think, I spent that moment focusing on the things about work that I can’t wait to be done with rather than appreciating the awesome stuff that I get to experience as perks of working.

Can you relate? Fundamentally, none of us would pursue an early exit from work or an alternative approach to work if we were satisfied with the status quo. So it’s easy to get into a cycle of hating on work without also appreciating the non-monetary perks it provides us. Because work is too demanding these days, no doubt, and all signs point to that trend continuing to get worse.

But both things can be true. It’s absolutely possible to be in a big old rush to get the heck out of our working lives while still appreciating the fun stuff that comes with work, whatever those perks might be for each of us. And once we come to terms with those perks going away for good in the near future, we can appreciate them even more while we still have them.

OurNextLife.com // The End of the Perks // Preparing to Say Goodbye to the Upside of Work // Work provides travel perks in abundance, and we're in the process of preparing ourselves to lose all those things when we retire early next year!

Choosing How to See Things

Work travel is something I write about here a lot because it’s a big part of my current life. And no matter how glamorous or exciting it might seem to those who don’t do it all the time, work travel is a drag. Despite the perks come with it, it’s still time spent getting up early for flights and going to bed late after endless meetings and dinners. It’s time when I can’t control what I do in my off hours like I can at home… if I even get off hours. It’s an imposition even when it’s fun.

Or at least that’s one way to see it.

The other way to see it is as this amazing time in life that won’t likely repeat itself when I get to play dress-up of sorts, and pretend to be a person who isn’t trying to optimize spending at all moments. A person who spends money on things I would never choose to spend on. A person accustomed to certain luxuries.

And while taking that view doesn’t make it any easier to be cheerful when the alarm goes off at 4 am before a flight, reminding myself of how cool certain aspects of it are makes it much easier to keep doing it month after month.

Related post: What We’ll Lose When We Stop Working // The Lament of Aspiring Early Retirees

My Biggest Perk: Status Travel

Thanks to traveling a lot for work, I have Marriott platinum status (which now means I also have SPG platinum — wohoo!) and get hotel room upgrades fairly regularly. Right now that means I have a very nice room with a living room, half bath (no joke), a big bedroom and a master bath bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. I don’t get hotel upgrades like this one very often, but nonetheless, I wouldn’t be the first business travel to get used to this if I let that happen. To start thinking I deserve rooms like this.

My hotel suite, one of the perks I'll miss after we retire early.
“My” living room

I don’t get upgraded as often when I fly as I do with hotels, but it’s always nice to get bumped up to first class, and I’m happy to take advantage of the free food and drinks United gives 1K level members even when we’re in the back of the plane.

It would be easy to think of this stuff as, “Well, it’s the least they could do.” After all, I give a lot of business to the hotels and airlines every year, and it’s absolutely in their best interest to maintain my loyalty. But I’m trying hard not to get that attitude, because I know: all of this goes away soon. We’ll certainly still fly and stay in hotels after we quit, but very shortly thereafter, we’ll lose our status and the perks that go with it.

Second Biggest Perk: Making Decisions on Convenience, Not Cost

I’ve discovered that, somewhere along the line, I grew a second brain. I’ve always had the brain that is price-conscious, and that weighs the convenience factor against the value it provides. But somewhere in the midst of all this work travel, a second brain sprouted that doesn’t think that way, or at least not to the same extent. This second brain still has pricing limitations in mind, but within a much different set of parameters. This brain is thinking with a different type of pragmatism: the kind that says there’s not much time, and so convenient choices are the best choices.

It’s this second brain that says, “It would be marvelous and cost-effective to take a train from the airport into the city, but that will burn hours I don’t have.” The first brain would say, “But that cab is so much money. It’s not worth it.” And if it’s our money, our default is to agree with the first brain (sometimes to a fault, like when we have more money than time). But when it’s for work, and the timelines are so much more compressed, then the second brain wins.

And it’s not even remotely true that I throw money around while traveling for work. I am price-conscious when selecting flights and hotels, and I don’t go to fancy restaurants just because someone else is paying. But if I have a meeting, I need breakfast, and there’s a restaurant that’s right here in front of me, the second brain reminds me that I don’t have time to worry about whether this is the cheapest option. I just go with what’s easiest and takes the least time.

Starbucks coffee, a luxury we won't often indulge in once we're retired.
The second brain doesn’t worry about how much an almond milk latte from Starbucks costs. It only knows that we need coffee, and that they sell coffee.

Getting to spend this time with a second brain that makes decisions based on convenience over cost is an interesting experience, and one that will end soon, along with the travel perks. What’s been perhaps more interesting of all is how seamlessly I can switch from one brain to the other, making a choice with our personal funds in one thought, and then making a very different calculation for a work travel choice with barely a second between. But very soon I’ll need to bid adieu to brain two when we leave work, have more time than money, and need to prioritize cost above most everything.

What Are Your Work Perks?

We well know that not everyone has fancypants airline or hotel status, but most people get some non-monetary benefit from work. We’ve had friends who’ve gotten tickets to events sometimes, or discounts on things they needed for home. Maybe it’s use of a company phone or computer that saves you from having to purchase those things (waving my hand in the air over here!). Or getting to attend company events with food and drink.

What often seems to happen is we are excited about those perks at first, but then over time they stop feeling like perks, and just feel like background noise. Like my work phone — I’ve had a fully paid phone for years now, and the easiest view would just be to say, “They expect me to be reachable, so they should pay for my phone.” (And they should, because they do!) But this perk goes way beyond this. First, I have an iPhone, which I can’t imagine paying for myself. Second, I haven’t researched cell carriers or rate plans in maybe a decade. Third, I never think about how much data I’ve used or question whether I should try to find wifi before doing certain things on the phone. The real perk, beyond just whatever the phone would cost me otherwise, is having the luxury not to think about all the things that most people have to think about when it comes to phones. That’s been pretty great! But again, it ends soon.

In your work life, are there any perks you’ve had that you’ve forgotten are even perks? Can you remind yourself what they are and ask yourself if they provide any harder-to-see perks, like my being freed from ever thinking about cell plans and data usage?

Preparing to Say Goodbye

We know what a privilege it will ultimately be to leave work on our own terms, and not to have it decided for us, like happens for most people when they ultimately retire, either because of poor health or because they lose a job and can’t find another (ahem, ageism). And a big part of leaving on our own terms is the ability to mentally prepare ourselves to say goodbye to it all.

What I didn’t say earlier was that, when I saw what a nice hotel room I had gotten, I didn’t just shrug and think Cool, and move on. I took pictures of it, I danced around it, I danced around it some more, and then I invited a friend who lives in the area to come hang out in it instead of going out. Because I wanted to soak it up as much as possible.

Every time I get upgraded on a flight now, I make a point to remind myself that I’m not a person who flies first class, but just that I got super lucky and am getting to pretend to live a different life from my real one. I’m not perfect at this thinking, and especially when sitting in economy, I’ll completely fess up to feeling like a person who deserves to at least sit toward the front where there’s a teensy bit more leg room. But I’m focusing on changing that mindset, and am making a point of sending out a little thank you from my knees to the airplane gods whenever I’m in economy plus.

Tacos paid for by work... mmmm.
These tacos tasted better because I know I don’t get these paid for forever.

More than anything, knowing that our future lives won’t include a lot of the things we enjoy now — the travel perks, the second brain that makes decisions based on convenience first, the freedom from worrying about mundane things like cell phone plans — has shined a bright light onto the perks themselves and made us both appreciate them more.

And when we remind ourselves to appreciate these perks — big and small — several important things happen:

We get a nice gratitude buzz — Gratitude is good for us, after all, and it has a powerful way of kicking out those negative ways of looking at things, like focusing on what a drag travel can be. So much more pleasant to focus on the positive Hey, cool, I get some extra leg room and a free snack box! How lucky am I? 

We take clearer mental pictures — Knowing something has a short expiration date is a great reminder to make the conscious effort to remember and appreciate it, so we have clear memories to look back on.

We re-evaluate our retirement budget — A very few of the perks we get through work have reminded us that time is sometimes worth more than money (thanks, second brain!), and we’ve adjusted our retirement spending plan accordingly.

Chime In!

What are the work perks that you will miss the most? Or if you’re already retired, that you do miss? Any surprises in there? I had almost forgotten that my cell phone is a perk, but I am appreciating it so much more since reminding myself.

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170 thoughts on “The End of the Perks // Preparing to Say Goodbye to the Upside of Work

  1. It is pretty easy to maintain hotel status, and also keep enough of a points balance for a few free weeks a year, by signing up for a few credit cards a year.

    If you have been able to build up points balances this whole time while traveling for work, you are ahead of the game in that regard.

    1. Easy to keep *silver* status, but not gold or platinum, which come with the real perks like free breakfast and wifi. ;-) And yeah, we’ll be retiring with tons of points in the bank, earned the hard way over many years… we’re feeling pretty excited to get to spend them!

  2. Free food, for one! Not all the time, but several times a week there will be leftover good from meetings (or I’ll be in a meeting with catered lunch).

    Oh, the biggest perk for work travel for me is the car service we have. I just book it through work online and they show up. Coming from the airport, they’re always there waiting in the “limo” area. No fumbling for my wallet, worrying about tip, or doing a price comparison between taxi/uber/lyft.

    1. How awesome that you get free food sometimes at work! That’s the best. And that car service sounds pretty sweet! Though now with Lyft and Uber, I feel like it’s pretty darn luxurious too… and for less than the cost of a cab!

  3. Ah yes the fun – and pain – of work travel. The perks are definitely well deserved, because if your travel days are like mine you’re essentially working every minute you’re away. You’re traveling for work, in meetings for work, preparing for work, having meals with your co-workers… it’s so different than personal travel. Work travel is one of those things that sounds fun and glamorous – but in reality when you’re not sleeping you’re usually doing something for work.

    I can so relate to the two brains concept. For example, when I’m traveling by train for work I take the nice, comfortable, more expensive one (which is what they ask us to book). But if I’m traveling to the same location with my family, I take the much less comfortable but considerably cheaper train.

    1. Yes! You understand. Work travel comes with almost no downtime, and even if I manage to indulge in a few minutes of HGTV, it’s while working… And you’re “if you’re not sleeping…” note cracked me up because no, I’m not sleeping! I never get enough sleep when traveling! Hahaha.

  4. No perks :) Last year I worked for a public hospital so I had to pay for my X-mas party dinner too, however this year I work for private one so I do get that, but that’s about it! I think perks mostly come with jobs where people have meetings or who travel, but I may be wrong.

    1. I’m in the same boat, we do have an annual summer picnic which really is only exciting for people with kids. Other than that no laptop, phone, food, travel, etc. Such is the life in rural parts of the US,

      1. Makes sense, and I didn’t mean to rub the perks in! :-) For what it’s worth, I do think most people who have perks also have enormous expectations placed on them (though I’m sure there are exceptions!). If I’m working less than 60 hours a week, I get questions, and if I don’t respond to emails within an hour, even on the weekend, then I’m “slacking off.” So the good comes with plenty of bad too!

    2. I think you’re right that certain types of jobs come with more perks than others — and in my case the perks are directly in exchange for giving up massive amounts of my free time. So it’s good stuff to try to make me forget the bad it’s contributing in my life. :-)

      1. That’s for sure. I do work overtime a lot, but not 60 hours every week. And I do get weekend emails but every weekend, and I am not expected to answer them within an hour. My husband has such one job and it’s also availability almost 24/7. More money, more perks, more overtime. I’ve been with him on maybe two of those trips and it’s exhausting, I don’t see him much either, so I don’t go anymore. Anyway with kids now it doesn’t even make sense to go with him :) But yeah I can see how you welcome those perks on those work trips.

        1. Yeah, we’ve stopped trying to combine trips for the most part, too, because we end up not having much time together anyway! I think of the travel perks as just a little something to ease the pain a bit. :-)

    3. No way. I’m in shock. There’s always always free food at a hospital if you know where to look. I did my clinicals a at 10 different hospitals and I’ve worked at 4 different places and there’s always been free food.

      1. Interesting to know how those things might differ across sites! The “if you know where to look” part seems important — some people are naturally wired to seek out the perks, while others might not see things that way. :-)

      2. I live in Australia, so that may be different, but the only free food I can remember has been the chocolates that the patients’ families bring when they leave :) or the cakes/cookies etc that staff bring when they feel like, which is free, but not in the sense of free food paid by the organisation I’m working at.
        If there are people/staff leaving and we have a farewell lunch, we order and pay our own food for instance.

        1. I appreciate this reminder that we should bring snacks for the staff anytime we go to a hospital! :-) You’re saving lives, for goodness sake — you deserve some perks!

  5. As a public servant I don’t get any of the perks that you discussed. The main perk that I get that others are less likely to have is a great schedule, work/life balance, and a good retirement plan. None of which will really matter in retirement.

    I think the main perks of working over not working that I have are the same ones that most people have: (1) a daily social situation where you interact with other people without needing to exert any extra effort, and (2) a source of challenge and growth. Both of those can (and should!) be recreated in retirement, but come naturally in a work environment.

    1. That work-life balance counts for a lot! That’s ultimately WHY those of us in non-balance jobs get the perks, to bribe us into selling off all of our time and mindshare to our work. Panem et circensus…

      Agree 100% that social interaction and challenges/growth come way more easily at work than in non-work settings, and it’s important to plan out some vision for how you get those things after you quit work, so you don’t end up isolated.

  6. Hmmmm…. as a public school educator, I think you might not find too many “perks” at work :) Is bringing in things from home everyday or spending a few hundred dollars – (or more) of your own money on supplies a perk? Maybe it’s that opening day of school brown watery coffee that counts! I will say I taught at a private college for a couple years and there were definitely a few more perks. I was amazed at the fancy lunches we attended – when I previously had to buy my own in the school cafeteria. One of the reasons I left the private college was because all I could see was wasteful spending (and its tie to HIGH tuitions!!) At the public university I switched to – no perks at all :)

    1. I was thinking about public school teachers while writing this, because you all really do have the fewest perks, the least appreciation (and pay commensurate with your contribution to society!), but also one of the VERY MOST IMPORTANT jobs in all the world. You certainly DESERVE more perks, even though you aren’t getting them. :-(

  7. We have a really laid back culture at our company, at least once a month there are cases of craft beers brought in for one thing or another for us to “work” (sometimes we do demos but mostly it’s just time to BS over beers)

    Food is the most common perk we encounter though – probably get free lunch once a week through some meeting or event.

    I don’t know if this counts as a perk but our work-life balance is great, I probably would have looked at other companies but am not willing to risk losing it yet.

    1. Nice! I am all about free food and drink (let’s be honest — I really only care about the food), so I’m stoked for you that you get get meals provided on a regular basis. And the work-life balance, though not technically a perk, is PRICELESS. Hang on to that as long as you can!

  8. I’ve definitely thought about this as well. The free iPhone, unlimited data, laptop, airline status, hotel status, steak dinners, etc. I’ve also noticed how much less stressful travel is when you’re not paying for it. Hungry? Grab food at the airport. Too lazy to rent a car? Uber everywhere. It’ll be a sad day when this goes away but I think I’ll get over it quickly ;)

    1. I feel quite certain that I’ve had maybe two steak dinners in all of my time traveling for work — clearly I’ve been doing it wrong! Hahaha. I’m actually fine doing mostly groceries on work travel, and usually don’t want to carve out enough time to have a fancy meal with clients, but on those rare occasions when a nice meal happens, I do appreciate it a lot more knowing that I wouldn’t choose to spend my own money that way!

      1. I’m usually traveling with 2 to 5 others and am not the one choosing where we eat (usually the big dogs decide, and I’m just a middle dog). It’s not steak every night by any means, since sometimes we work through the evening and have to get quick take out or order delivery. Are you usually traveling alone? If I tried to buy groceries on a work travel trip I’d get looked at like I had 10 heads haha.

        1. Hey, if that’s the deal for your company, awesome! Enjoy it while it lasts! ;-) I am usually traveling alone and eating some Whole Foods salad all by my lonesome in a hotel room. Hahaha… it’s not as tragic as it sounds. ;-)

  9. In no particular order, my lucky 7……

    1. iPhone, iPad….. eye ache
    2. Collegial friendships
    3. Mentorship from many wiser than I am
    4. Opportunity to mentor others in building a career
    5. Renumeration and importantly recognition from patent inventions to advance the discovery of new medicines. But lots to look back on and be proud of….
    6. Support, trust and advice when difficulties outside of work hits
    7. Opportunity to travel and lead initiatives in far away parts of the world

    Gonna miss it all an awful lot……

    Why the heck am I giving all this up?

    1. Wow, what a great list Mr. PIE! Though this post was about perks, we’ll miss the friendships and sense of being valued most of all, I’m certain. And how wonderful that you’ll always have all of this to look back on!

  10. Huge fan of your blog, first time commenting!

    Not only my iPhone paid for with unlimited data, but my spouse’s also. Health insurance paid for AND HSA deductible $5000 paid by company. Salary increased by $18,000 so I can use that to put in 401k, then company adds $36,000 to make max contribution of $54,000 in profit sharing. Also get $10,000 per year for continuing education that can be used to travel for conferences, or buy personal computers, etc. Disability insurance paid for.

    I will have a VERY hard time leaving this company although technically could be considered FI now. I definitely have the OMY syndrome due to the awesome job perks, the need for a big safety cushion, and general procrastination. Since the job is high stress (feel like I earn those perks) I am waiting until the pain of the work outweighs the pleasure of the perks. Getting closer….

    1. Hi LG! Thanks for reading, and for commenting for the first time. :-) What a sweet set of benefits you have! That company 401k match alone is seriously drool-worthy. I can see why you have OMY syndrome with all of that in front of you… feel free to drop a line over here if you want any moral support in pulling the plug in spite of your sweet gig. ;-)

  11. I’d go the work life balance perk and say I LOVE having a desktop (I’ve only remoted in 3x in 2.5 yrs now), giving back our phones for cost savings (woohoo!!), and the general flexibility of the company in regards to dr appts, sick kids, etc… Totally supervisor dependent, but more are accomodating than not.

    Real perks – occasional food around the office or in meetings, although less now since the downturn happened. Awesome Christmas parties – the first year they had a concert from a country group, maybe Brooks and Dunn or similar. Not my bag, but really a private concert? We googled how much they cost for that type of gig and it was close to $400k…. Insane, and this was right before oil tanked to $26/barrel, lol.

    In my old company, we got floor seats to see the New Orleans Pelicans more than a few times, Mrs. SSC got to go to MNF in the company suite in the SuperDome and got a football signed by Steve Young. Along with meeting him and the whole MNF crew… Numerous free passes to the “good” balconies on Bourbon Street during Mardis Gras week (yep, it’s not just one night), and more. It had its upsides.

    Oh yeah, we also get free money just for linking up our fitbit/activity tracker and getting a yearly health eval. I’ve accrued over $200 for the second year now by doing literally nothing special. :)

    Like you mentioned, after a while, these things just turn into background noise. While they are and were appreciated at the time, I’d still rather be FI and out of the office.
    Mr. Tako pointed out in his 1 yr into ER post, an average day in ER is better than a good day at the office. I can’t wait to find out for myself. :)

    1. Do they still make desktop computers?! Hahahaha. But seriously, sound like you two have had some pretty sweet perks over time! Maybe not all of them are things that shareholders would be too thrilled to find out about. ;-) And um, can I please have that FitBit benefit? Sounds awesome! But totally with you — any FI day is better than the best day at the office. :-)

      1. Yes, yes they do still make desktops, hahahaha After my last company was all laptops, implying 24hr access and availability I was stoked to be able to “leave work” when I leave work at the “new” place. That’s been the best benefit of all. Topped only by them asking for the workphones back – yes please, take it! :)

        1. Wow, you learn something every day. :-) I think I would have a mild panic attack if they asked for my phone back, but not because of email — just because of Twitter and the WP app. Because, you know, blog friends. :-)

        2. Ohhhhhhhh, you did two phones! I have never been someone who could manage that. I’m one phone all the way, and I just accept that that means they probably know some stuff.

  12. When I got laid off from my 8-year job I missed health benefits and my 401k so much! You don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Famous quote by the 80s band Cinderella. lol! I think it’s good you reframing your travel situation into something you can be grateful for, although I think you will probably love being home more…or only traveling when YOU want to! :)

  13. Great article….wow…platinum? I believe that’s 75 nights stayed in calendar year ( minimum ). You truly do travel a lot. It’s important to show gratitude for the perks…and say farewell to them on a “high note”. I don’t believe I’ll miss the 3 hour plus dinners with literally thousands of calories consumed.

    1. Just checked out of night 84 for 2016! (Though that’s an inflated figure because 15 nights are the credit card bonus and there are a few others in there that are from credit card spending — though that’s balanced out by nights at other chains that aren’t counted in this figure, like my 4 nights at FinCon *right before* the SPG/Marriott merger became operational — d’oh!). So yeah, I travel plenty. :-)

      And OMG — you raised the calories point! That has been the bane of my existence for years now! I finally had to make a deliberate choice to cut out all that stuff, because work travel was making me doughy. Hahaha.

  14. My employer had very marginal benefits, but my husband’s employer had an excellent benefit package. I have to admit, I miss very little.
    1. I turned down the company phone (Android), because I love my IPhone and value my privacy. I buy refurbished units from Amazon and get service from Consumer Cellular ($50.99 monthly); if I need more data they automatically upgrade me. Hubby is included on the same plan, and buys his Android phones new from them for a few hundred bucks every few years.
    2. Turned down the company health plan because it was the ACA minimum coverage level at a very high premium and essentially useless; I do miss Mr. AR’s “Cadillac” fully paid medical plan, but that coverage becomes taxable this year anyway, so the plan has been reduced and now requires self paid premiums and a deductible. Still, it would save us thousands annually and is easily the biggest, and most difficult adjustment.
    3. Lost unlimited use of any vehicle (including limousines); I found the entire process a hassle and am happy driving myself wherever I need to go, although I see the advantage for things like airport trips (although this area isn’t serviced by that company anyway).
    4. Lost salary and bonuses; we have sufficient income from pensions and social security plus our investments, and we haven’t yet tapped into a few additional income sources, so it’s all good.
    5. Lost tickets to all kinds of cool things like sporting events, entertainment venues and the like. Haven’t missed it at all.
    I think the biggest change I’ve had to make is just to stop wasting money and become aware of what stuff actually costs! When I look back on the money we wasted while pulling down six figure incomes, I just cringe. I try not to dwell on it because there’s obviously nothing to be done about it now (and we are fortunate to be financially comfortable), but it’s not lost on me that the expensive clothes, shoes, cars, toys and vacations were all just ways to deal with the extreme stress of the jobs. Had we realized that years before we could have set ourselves up much better (although without the ACA I doubt I would have retired earlier than I could have COBRA’ed out). That’s the best advice I give my kids and anyone else who will listen: do with a little less now, fully fund every retirement account you can, stay out of debt and you’ll have years and years and years of good health and stable retirement income with which to reap the benefits! Squander your income now and you’ll be working for someone else forever.

    1. It’s interesting you don’t miss the sports and concert tickets — that sounds like a nice perk! Though I also know you guys are enjoying the slow lake life, so I get that too! Your advice is wise as ever, and we say much the same, because we also wasted money for years to “reward” ourselves for how hard we worked. A lot of that spending we don’t regret, because it bought us some wonderful experiences, but we’re close enough to retirement now that it’s hard not to remind myself that we’d definitely be done with work already if we’d gotten on the FIRE path just a *little* sooner. ;-)

  15. I might suggest doing a little experiment. It might sound extreme, but I promise it’s not: Stop ignoring the cost of crap on the menu when work is footing the bill and keep track in a journal the things that you miss or don’t miss vs. the work-funded status quo.

    It will be a little harder for you because of dietary restrictions, but in larger cities, probably doable.

    Seriously though, I used to be the guy who would completely ignore the cost on the menu when someone else was footing the bill.

    I don’t do that anymore. I just order what I would order if I was paying. If I’m offended by the cost of something on the menu, it shouldn’t matter whether I’m paying for it or someone else is paying for it. It’s still offensive and in my opinion a waste of financial resources.

    I’ve found that over the long term, removing myself of the second mindset of “someone else is paying, therefore cost doesn’t matter”, it has made the simpler lower-cost lifestyle to be so much more sustainable. I found that for me, it’s super easy to start to feeling deprivation when you have your “self paying mindset” and “others paying mindset”. When I got rid of the second, I’m sure I seem like a cheap weirdo to some people who have noticed the change (aka dad), but the irony is I actually FELT like the cheap weirdo when I was inflating my lifestyle on other people’s dime but not doing so on my own.

    1. Completely agree on being financially responsible even on the company dime. Great point! You can tell a lot about a company from watching how employees behave when conducting business on behalf of their company.

      It need not be excessive or uncomfortably frugal. A happy sensible medium exists and too many employees can’t find that unfortunately.

      Perpetuated by the three cocktail – surf on turf dinners and first class international travel excesses by finance types and part of the reason why excessive fees still sit on so many funds. An international long haul business class flight from east coast US to Asia is still about 3x cheaper than a first class flight. And extremely comfortable.

      1. I won’t repeat everything I just wrote to TJ, but I agree with you guys 100% and I’m a far better steward of company and client resources than this post makes me sound! I most often buy groceries (just ate a microwave lunch at my hotel!) instead of going to restaurants, so it’s not the actual amounts that are so different, but more just the thought process. Like when I have more time in real life, I will find ways to get the price down, but in biz travel, there’s no time for that, and I just have to suck it up and take a cab (or Lyft — usually cheaper). And, since you called this stuff out, I have literally never, in my entire career, booked a business class flight anywhere, dined on surf and turf or had three cocktails. :-) I *maybe* expense one drink a month… maybe. ;-)

      2. I totally agree. At my current company, on our field trip a few weeks ago, we all pretty much just put meals and 1 drink on our company card and had any excess split off to personal. Effectively looking at it as , “Yeah they’d probably cover this, but I’m fine covering it, because Id typically only have 1 drink at dinner.” Also, noone ordered the most expensive thing just because they could either.

        Now my last company… Man, those guys tried to get away with murder on their expense reports. It was ridiculous some of the stuff that got approved.

        Maybe not coincidentally, my current company only laid off ~300 people (~3%) over the last 2 years compared to ~6000 people (~12%) at my former company. Prudence pays off! :)

        1. The few times I’ve been in situations where people were taking advantage of the situation, I felt so icky about it! And since I manage my accounts, if I charged a whole bunch, it would bust MY budget, and what good would that do?! ;-) I respect when people take a reasonable approach to biz expenses, but you also have to be realistic about time limitations. Like I would prefer to make my own coffee, but how would I even do that on a work trip? So instead I suffer through a splurgey latte. Haha.

    2. I think this could be a useful experiment for someone who spends more than I do on work travel. The truth is that I mostly buy groceries because restaurants can be tough (also expensive and unhealthy!), and have the reputation with our accounting department of being the lone weirdo who turns in grocery receipts. And honestly, the other stuff like cabs and take-out coffee is necessary given the time constraints on work trips.The notable thing is just how different the calculus is for me — the actual AMOUNTS are really not much different from what I do spend with our own money. :-)

  16. I don’t get a whole lot of perks, but what I do get is pretty nice. They give me a laptop that I can use to work from home on occasion; free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate every day; snack days every once in awhile (ie freshly popped popcorn); 10% 401(k) matching and a pension. Not as amazing as some companies like Google, but I appreciate what I’m given!

    1. Ohhhh, snacks at work are the best! Even if they’re not every day… in fact, I bet you appreciate them more because they’re NOT every day! It would be too easy to just expect them if they were always there. :-)

  17. One of the biggest things I miss about work it’s no longer having a nice American Express corporate card to eat fancy meals, take clients out to entertainment events and so forth. But, I got over it and quickly adapted to less fancy meals and free events in the park! It’s nice how easily we adapt to what we have.

    Don’t forget to use all your points before you leave! Or, I guess it depends if you can keep your credit card. But there’s no rush. I had to give mine back.

    Sam

    1. Yeah, no more “entertainment”… fortunately I don’t do a ton of that, so it won’t be a BIG adjustment, but it’s still something that will go away. I think we’ll ultimately adapt just fine, but it seems good to recognize that it will be an adjustment. And good point for others about the corporate card points — we’ve used our personal cards for all work expenses for years to keep the miles for ourselves, so no issue there!

  18. I’m not going to lie. I totally used my first airport lounge on the way to England with Mr. T and I WANT THAT IN MY LIFE! Also, this year I took 2 work trips, so I will be an MVP on Alaska air for the first time ever (not hard from Alaska because there are so many miles per trip!) – it doesn’t mean anything except that I get more miles back from flights flown (yay!). The main perk we’ll miss is Mr. T’s health insurance. It is an insurance of legend – the golden handcuffs for certain. :)

    1. SO AWESOME that you guys have a gold plated insurance plan — make sure you take advantage of it while you can! And the lounges ARE nice, though I stopped paying for them a few years ago (still get them on international, but not domestic) because it didn’t feel worth it… airports mostly have free wifi now, and I usually can’t eat the snacks anyway (plus I can expense whatever I buy). But yeah, it does make the whole air travel thing feel much more civilized!

      1. I’m waiting to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve to get us all in to those! :) – but I’ve got a year to wait – I’m def over the 5/24 card limit for it.

        1. After we retire, you have to teach me your travel hacking ways! I just have the same two Chase cards (United and Marriott) I’ve had for years, and definitely have never churned a card!

        2. Oh man… we just started and it’s AMAZING. We don’t do crazy things like manufacture spend… but if we have a big purchase or expense coming up, you can bet we apply for a new card!

  19. I can say without a doubt that I don’t miss the work travel! Okay, maybe I’ll miss a few Singapore Slings by the pool at the Grand Hyatt in SG while recovering from business class jet lag ;)

    One tip I have about your cell phones, rather than just turning them in, if you are leaving on good terms (which I think you will both do) you might be able to get your employer to either sell the device to you at a much lower cost than a new one OR they may just let you keep it. That’s what my employer did when I resigned. It doesn’t hurt to ask ;)

    1. Yeah, if you can have a Singapore Sling poolside on a work trip, in a beautiful locale, those are the moments that make it all feel worth it. :-) But good to know you don’t miss it — I’m not surprised! And great tips on the phone — we definitely plan to ask! Worst thing they can do is say no. ;-)

  20. I definitely will miss having a paid for phone and personal hotspot but I LOVE when I go on international vacations where I can’t use my phone. The only reason I really need it is social media for the blog and keeping in touch with family. The first one is variable and if I moved closer to family I solve the second. I can definitely relate to what you said about the joy of waking up early for work flights. My last job had plenty of that.

    1. Speaking of phones and international travel… the real wake-up call for me that work had gotten to a different level was the last trip abroad we took, and work said they’d pay for everything related to the phone on that trip, including texting. Meaning: We still want you online and reachable, even when you’re on vacation out of the country. So I hope the ability to get offline breaks when you go international sticks around for you! And so glad for you that you don’t have those super early flights anymore! I swear every one I take gives me 10 more new grey hairs. :-)

  21. There are a few little perks I have missed during our year off. But honestly, not many. I, am however, always a big fan of gratitude and noticing goodness. It’s been fairly easy for us to replace those good things, with our own better things. We said goodbye to a few work friends (and stayed connected with a few others) but that has opened up time and space to invest in other relationships. Ones that actually are more meaningful and beneficial because they spur us on to be better versions of ourselves. We don’t take cabs when we travel, but we aren’t so rushes and stressed out that it seems necessary. So I would say appreciate it while it lasts, but know that other and perhaps better things are coming!

    1. Can’t wait for those other, better things! Though, just knowing myself, I feel pretty sure I’ll have little pangs of “Hey, remember how nice it was when we used to take cabs??” Hahaha. Know thyself, right! But I’m glad to appreciate it all before I lose it, not just after… I think that will make for an easier transition!

  22. In no particular order…

    1. travel – I travel about 6 x per year. Not enough to be a pain, but enough to provide a nice break from the norm. Also enough to accumulate enough points/miles to get at least a few free hotel nights each year + a free flight or two for personal use.

    2. prestige. I’m no CEO, but I’ve got a good job, some seniority, a nifty title that makes many people go “oooohh, that’s cool!” All that goes away when I leave work and become just another schmoe in the grocery store that’s slowing you down because the self-checkout line is making me look up my own vegetable SKUs.

    3. health and life insurance. My employer provides this at very low cost to me. When I FIRE, I’ll have to pay for this out of pocket, and will get an inferior product.

    4. free money. Annual and spot bonuses, yearly stock grants, 401k contributions, ESPP plans all = free money to me. I’ll miss the free money.

    5. community. Work provides a built in social structure that will be hard to duplicate once I leave. I have a hunch that I’ll miss the camaraderie more than I realize.

    6. purpose. My life is not defined by what I do for a living, but having a well defined purpose M-F is, in some respects, a nice thing to have.

    7. being wanted. It’s flattering to have recruiters reach out and ask me to apply for their open jobs, or to have an internal team at work reach out to me to see if I’d like to work for them. It’s nice to be wanted. It makes me feel valuable. I’m not sure how this will get duplicated in my my next life. Maybe I’ll feel wanted when a new neighborhood bank asks me to join them as a new customer!?!

    8. discounts. Paying full prices for the products & services my employer provides is going to bite.

    Feels like I could easily add another dozen perks to this list….but I don’t want to start feeling too warm and fuzzy about this place lest I decide that ‘hey, maybe I don’t want to retire early!’

    1. What a great list! That’s the perfect amount of travel — not enough to dominate your life at all, but enough to get some benefits. And all the rest of it — YES. Especially the prestige, purpose and feeling wanted. That is not stuff that we as a community talk about enough, and I really think those things will be the toughest things to give up!

  23. I have Marriott and SPG(yea!) gold status and have been upgraded here and there when I travel internationally for work. It’s a nice perk. Lounge access and free breakfast at Marriott is nice too. I have been able to get some upgrades when flying here and there and that has been nice too. One of the perks for work travel is that I get to try different types of food (beef sashimi, semi-live octopus anyone?) and fancier restaurants that I typically wouldn’t go by myself. This is especially true when I’m traveling with a sales guy.

    Having work paying for my cell phone is a nice perk but that also means people can call me outside of work hours. Another perk is extended medical insurance so the family can get massages, physio treatments, and other non traditional medical treatments.

    1. Lounge access at Marriotts is my favorite — and that honestly saves my clients TONS of money, because hotel breakfast is EXPENSIVE. Often I can make dinner out of the lounge appetizers, too. But yes, it’s super fun when I can try some different kind of food on work travel — that is something I will for sure miss! And I’m jealous of your insurance coverage on the ancillary services! Sounds nice.

  24. I think you’ll find that paying for your own cell phone and plan isn’t that big of a deal nowadays. There are a lot of plans around $40-ish (StraightTalk, Cricket) that will give you almost unlimited everything… just slower data if you really use a lot.

    Finally it will be a drop in the bucket in your overall plan. The cost of the device may not be bad either. You can always buy an older iPhone to suit your budget.

    I realize that’s not the whole point of the article. It’s deeper than that. I don’t remember missing any perks that I missed when I went to being self-employed. There might have been one like free soda or something, but it’s too minimal to even worry about.

    I think you’ll find that when you aren’t on a “work” schedule, you’ll have less of a need to pay for convenience. You won’t be wake up in a strange hotel room and think, “How do I manage breakfast and coffee from here?”

    1. I bet you’re right — it’s just funny how not thinking for a second about cell phones for a decade makes all of that a rather mysterious subject! But I especially love your point about waking up in a strange hotel room and wondering how I’ll manage breakfast and coffee — story of my current life. :-) Can’t wait til that’s behind me! I’m 100% positive that losing the perks will be worth it because of all we’ll gain!

  25. We get plenty of opportunities to travel to conferences in exotic places to accumulate (required) education credits, but all expenses are on our own dimes so I typically stay in town and find other ways to keep up to date. Then we travel for actual agenda-free vacations.

    When we travel on our own, though, it’s typically road trips or Southwest with camping, Airbnb, or a splurge on the Days Inn :)

    But what I will miss, and it sounds horrible when I say it out loud, is the status. Being a physician sometimes brings judgment, hate, and stereotypical expectations, but it also brings a certain respect. It makes people see the petite ‘high schooler’ a little differently when they realize that I’m actually 35 and have spent the majority of my years since high school attending even more school and working my butt off.

    When I quit, I’ll be back to being seen as the stupid, tiny, young-looking blonde kid that people I don’t know treat like crap and try* to intimidate.

    *Try is the key word here, though. Regardless of what they think, I know who I am and can hold my own, I just hate having to fight those battles when people try to take advantage of and bully me.

    1. Good for you for not caving to people’s expectations and snap judgments. My example of that is with travel — for years, men would cut in front of me in the premier boarding group line, I assume thinking I somehow didn’t know how to read and was there by mistake, because I’m a young-looking woman. I have since decked out my backpack in 1K paraphernalia to show off my status, and it does help, but it annoys me that that’s necessary. Why must we as women have to prove ourselves when men are just assumed to “belong there” or to be smart and successful? That’s a whole other tangent we could go off on, but I feel you on the “women getting judged” thing. And hey, you are STILL a physician even if you’re not working, right? You’ll always have your MD and can just say you’re taking some time off. :-)

        1. I know… hurts my heart to think about what women must deal with elsewhere in the world. Or anyone who’s not in the privileged position of “leading” society. :-(

  26. It’s so surreal for me to read these posts because this is so far outside myself (just like having summers off is completely foreign to non-teachers). Every once in a while, my district will cover the cost of admission to a professional development conference (but not transportation or food). That’s really cool! Sometimes, we get treats from parents in our community or our PTA. But more than anything, I would miss the little thank you notes and gifts (especially the homemade ones!).

    PS – Hoity-toity because I said it on Twitter.

    1. Can we count summers off as a perk? We would take a BIG pay cut to get that, but then we could afford to take a pay cut, so I should be so cavalier in asserting it. :-) I think those thank you notes and handmade gifts sound amazing, and are way nicer than most of the “thanks” I get from clients — I can understand on so many levels why you aren’t planning to leave teaching.
      Love, Ms. Hoity Toity ONL ;-)

    2. Totally with you as a teacher! We really don’t get traditional “perks” other than plenty of time off (which I know can be pretty great!). I read comments about matching retirement contributions and I think, wow, I can’t even imagine that! The idea that so many people don’t take advantage of employer matches blows my mind.

      1. I’m definitely jealous of those summers off! ;-) We’ve often said that if we could have summers off or even a sabbatical every few years, we wouldn’t NEED to retire early! But instead we’re on call essentially 24/7, and it’s not sustainable, though the perks do make it SLIGHTLY less painful. ;-) And totally with you on those retirement matches! I have always been an evangelist about that: AT LEAST save enough to get your match, people! ;-)

  27. My work quit paying for most perks a few years ago so I miss:

    1. All expenses paid business travel where I’m earning points and miles by spending money that’ll be reimbursed.
    2. An FSA account.
    3. Great health plans.
    4. Great tax advantaged investment accounts.
    5. Real sick leave.
    6. Access to discounted rates for legal services, cell phone plans, computer equipment, the gym.
    7. Tuition reimbursement
    8. Paid public transit.
    9. The occasional very fancy meal, and staying at five star hotels.
    10. Real vacation

    There were a lot of other paid fringe benefits that had more to do with having to work so I don’t miss them so much but these were nice for that life. It’s pretty awesome that with the exception of the investment accounts, I’ve only missed most of the above in a generic kind of way, and not as a real hit to the pocketbook. I never got used to having the benefits so they were appreciated while they were here and then I bid them farewell :)

    1. Wait, you had ALL of those benefits/perks and lost them?! That’s crazy! Both the list to begin with, and having so many withdrawn! And five star hotels — that’s super rare for me. I only do it if it’s a fluky low rate comparable to the three star hotels, though I get lucky every once in a while. ;-)

      1. A couple of those were from jobs before the last one, like the five star hotels, when I worked for a possibly-certifiable megalomaniac who insisted that his staff stay in the same hotel as him so as to have access to us 20 hours of the day. So you know, they didn’t come without price ;) And that helped me learn right off that perks are only something to be enjoyed within reason because they’re rarely without strings!

        1. Ah, okay, gotcha. As you said, this stuff always comes with a price, though! For those with no perks, that’s what I’ve responded: this stuff might sound nice, but you trade your soul and all of your free time and brain space for it. Good trade-off? No!

  28. I tell myself that the prestige/status that comes with my occupation doesn’t matter to me, but that’s a lie. There is a sense of satisfaction in discussing my job with other people, who usually seem impressed. I get some free food, dinner, drinks, and occasional travel . . . but nothing too exciting. My hope is that I will earn a similar respect/admiration from people who we talk to about how we semi-retired early, when that day comes.

    1. You know I’m dying to know what you do. :-) One of these days I’m hoping we can share all of it! And I completely understand — it will be super weird when we don’t have our egos stroked anymore by people reacting to what we do for work. :-) But as you said, maybe people will be just as impressed by (semi) early retirement!

  29. No ‘grand’ perks here either; however, I do appreciate a regular schedule. That does make scheduling easier than if I traveled. For me, at this point, the biggest perk is the benefit of the 401k. It is good to recognize the perks from work though. You are sooo close which is sooo exciting:) Do you have the countdown app on your phone?

    1. Oh gosh, I think if I had a countdown app on my phone, I wouldn’t be able to get my work done! Hahaha. Sometimes it’s good to try NOT to think about it. ;-) And hey, as for perks, a regular work schedule counts for a lot! And that 401k… so huge!

  30. I’m not at your level of ‘status’ but do travel 1-2 times a quarter for a few nights. I honestly think the status levels by airlines and hotels has trained so many people to think work travel is a good thing. I honestly am glad that I don’t have top tier status because it means that i don’t have to travel any more than i do. I usually come home tired, behind on all the other work i need to do, and annoyed.
    But for the perks, yes..they are nice. I usually get a daily per diem for food so the game in my industry is to spend below that per diem and save the rest. In the beginning of my career I had one year where i funded my Roth IRA entirely from tax free per diem ‘profit’. Tax free in and tax free out. Can’t beat that. But now that i’m a bit older I mostly enjoy travel because of the break from the daily routine. My favorite thing is picking anything on the menu and not really caring. The per diem will cover it. I’m less obsessed with saving that money and enjoy the freedom of being slightly less frugal. One thing for sure. When i retire i will not miss running through the Atlanta Airport trying to catch a flight that’s taking me to a meeting i don’t really want to go to.

    1. Whoa, you funded your whole IRA entirely off your per diems?! You must have been traveling a ton then! I very briefly had a gig at the start of my career that did per diem, and I definitely tried to hang on to some of that bounty, but can’t imagine getting to the next level like you did! Now I’m reimbursed directly, so there’s no benefit to me of cheaping out on things I need. I think the amount of you travel that you do is the ideal — enough to stay “good at it,” but not enough that it constantly disrupts your life. Plus, just as you said, the whole status level thing is so insidious. We’re getting to that time of year when I’m sure I’ll start hearing fellow travelers talk about making their “mileage runs.” Unnecessary trips they pay for out of pocket just to keep their status level. I’ve never done that, and while I wouldn’t say I would never dream of it (I have never had to), it is a bit mind-boggling, and show you how much the airlines have tricked us all! And amen to never again running for a plane you don’t really want to catch anyway! ;-)

  31. First off, those tacos look AMAZING!! I could probably eat tacos everyday and be happy.

    I’m a flight attendant so obviously I travel for a living. I stay in hotels I would normally never pay for and, on occasion, buy food I normally wouldn’t because time or location only allow for a hotel or airport meal. Hotels are covered by the company (they choose) and meals are supposed to be covered by the per diem we make which is $2.15 an hour. If anyone has ever eaten at a hotel or airport, that allowance rarely covers the cost of food (even though we get a discount!) for one meal let alone 6 on a 3 day trip. To keep costs own, I usually pack a cooler for my entire trip (we have no heating elements or refrigeration on the planes so ice is my friend!!). After so many years I have my food bag down to a science. :)

    But it isn’t all doom and gloom. We get paid pretty well, have a 9.3% company match, ESPP with a 10% discount, and super cheap insurance (which is why I wont quit when I become FI). We stay in nice hotels, usually in great locations, and occasionally at an all inclusive resort (if you can get those trips from the senior mamas). I am very grateful for my job and the perks that go along with traveling for a living – seeing the country, exploring new cities, and a very flexible schedule. It sucks being away from home, as those who travel for a living know, but the perks help to make up for that. Oh, and you can often use the “I have a trip” excuse to get out of random family obligations…not that I ever do that. ;)

    1. Same here! In our house, we just call Mexican food “food.” ;-) I could eat it every single day! I can’t imagine trying to feed yourself on that per diem — as you well know (but writing it here because others may not), hotels and airports gouge you for EVERYTHING, so it’s common for things there to cost double what you could get them for at home. I LOVE that you pack a cooler — I am always the lone biz traveler who’s mostly eating meals I packed instead of buying everything from restaurants. But your perks sound wonderful, and though I have no idea if I could get hired, I’ve often thought that being a flight attendant would be a fun back-up career if our ER savings doesn’t last. I already know all the safety briefing scripts — hahaha.

      1. You’re halfway there knowing the briefings! With the flexibility of this job and the uber low cost of health insurance, I will most likely never let this job go. They’re going to have to force me out of here!! And if your ER savings takes a dump, let me know. I’ll put in a good word for ya! ;)

        1. Hahaha — I *know* there’s a lot more to the job than just the safety briefing. Like dealing with jerky/drunk/sexist/angry customers! Y’all are a bunch of saints, as far as I’m concerned! :-)

  32. I would agree with everyone else on the free money and the perks like phone and travel, but I’ve realized that actually “having a place to go to work on challenging problems with people smarter than me” would probably be what I’ll miss the most.
    To illustrate this, when I work from home, my wife tells me I’m grumpy. I need to go out, meet other people. I’m happier going back home when I’m not already home, working. When I get no interesting project, I get bored.
    After the O&G downturn, I feel like only the people who like their jobs remain, which makes the office life so much easier and better.
    Many of my colleagues have become friends (in fact, I married one of them), but since I’m still a few years away from FIRE, I’m hoping I’ll find a way to keep myself busy and challenged and surrounded by people smarter than me without thinking about it as work :)

    1. Absolutely missing the challenge and camaraderie is a big deal! Jim Wang’s recent guest post here talks a lot about that, and about how we should all try to plan out some new way to fulfill those needs before we quit. Because, yeah, that’s no small thing! It’s good you know about yourself that you NEED that social interaction, and that you’re thinking about it now, so it’s not some jarring surprise when you get to ER!

  33. You know, I have been so very excited about the idea of saying sayonara to work that I haven’t actually considered ways in which work actually subsidizes my current existence (other than healthcare of course – that big, worrisome bear is hard to forget). Let me count the ways:

    1. Free gym. Hahahahah. Who am I kidding? I’ve been twice in the last year. I keep intending to go more often, but you know what they say about the road to hell.
    2. I get a 15% discount on my cell phone plan because my place of work has a tie up with AT&T. Nice, but not life changing. Also a 10-15% discount on Apple products, but I rarely use this because I have friends who work at Apple and their employee discount for family and friends is usually better.
    3. Free coffee all day. I might actually have to run the numbers on this one, especially for Mr. BITA who I think drinks more coffee than water.
    4. The one major perk that Mr. BITA’s place of work provides is a 15% discount on daycare for Toddler BITA. We would miss that one a lot, but by the time we hit our FIRE date Toddler BITA will be all done with daycare and hopefully spending her days inexpensively at public school.
    5. Mr. BITA gets free lunches. I pay for mine, so that will probably be a wash.

    Overall, I’m not concerned, but it was good to stop and think about it for a bit.

    1. It’s good you’re thinking about this stuff! We’ve been thinking about it too, because besides having to pay for phones and buy computers, we’ll also likely have to buy more groceries because we’ll be home more of the time! Right now the work-paid meals make up a good chunk of my calories, and we have to account for that! ;-)

  34. A big hotel room is nice… but your own bed is nicer. :)

    All the food and travel stuff is nice but you pay for it with time — that’s time you’re not home. If you were home, you get to do other things at night rather than go to a hotel room. So is it really a perk? Would you drive two hours from your house just to stay in a free 5-star hotel next to your own house? I wouldn’t. So it’s just lipstick on a pig. :)

    Looking back, the biggest perk (that few would call a perk) I gave up were the chats, and other social activities like work league softball, etc; with the folks in my office.

    1. Oh, amen! My own bed is better than even the nicest hotel room in the whole world. :-) But… if I HAVE to travel for work, I certainly don’t mind if the hotel wants to put me in a better room. ;-) The way you put it is perfect: lipstick on a pig. When people say, “Oh wow, the travel you do sounds so nice,” I always tell them: It is a net subtraction from my quality of life, but when the hotel and airlines upgrade me, it makes that subtraction ever so slightly less. :-)

  35. My workplace provides a $70/day per diem to spend on meals, coffee, drinks, tips, etc. and I’m on the road 2-4 days/week. Spend it or lose it and we are encouraged to spend it. It has taught me to let my Brain #1 (thrifty ER-focused) to optimize this per diem and I can’t seem to spend more than $25/day on food. While everyone else boozes it up at the hotel bar, what do I do with the rest of my per diem? Have nice ‘dinners’ at Whole Foods consisting of the salad bar, shampoo, soap, herbal meds, portable foods like granola bars and fruits. I will miss this perk the most, and will have a difficult time adjusting to paid-for toiletries and pantry items. It required adding an ER spreadsheet line item to account for these additional retirement costs. But of course in retirement these items will not be purchased at Whole Foods :)

    1. I bet if I got a per diem, I’d completely do what you do! Though since I just get reimbursed for actual expenses, it’s a very different calculation, and there’s no benefit to me to scrimp on things I need, like morning coffee. (Though, like you, I never booze it up at the hotel bar!) I totally do the Whole Foods dinner whenever I can, too :-) And like you, I’ll be sad to give that up!

  36. At a previous job, they provided us with high end Androids and then iPhones, with full phone plans. Leaving that job and having to pay for my own was a bummer, but I’d gotten so used to having one it took a while (3 years) to start looking at budget carriers. We also got borrowing privileges on any DVD, book or video game in stock, which meant we got a lot of free entertainment. And discount.

    But would I go back to that job, for all its perks? Nope.

    1. I feel so lucky to have the PF blog community as resources on budget cell plans, so we don’t have to go it alone when it’s time to explore that! And wow, how cool that you got borrowing privileges on games and movies! That’s a fun perk. :-)

  37. Wow, nice upgrades. My work didn’t have any nice perks like that. The biggest thing I missed was the free gym/yoga program. I used to go to the gym at lunch almost every day and it was great. Now, I have to pay for the gym and yoga is at an inconvenient time. Oh well. Not working is still a lot better than working.

    1. I was thinking more about this, and realized the perks are in many cases something I’ve engineered for myself out of my work situation. Like if I didn’t focus so hard on staying loyal to one airline and one hotel chain, then I wouldn’t get those upgrades. So they’re not technically work perks, but I’ve made them happen. :-) And I’ve never had a free gym through work — that sounds like an awesome perk! But as you said, not working still looks a lot better to us than working, even knowing what we’ll lose. ;-)

    1. I can definitely see that! I think you already know this, but we are definitely jittery about adjusting to watching our numbers stop growing — or even get smaller — when we’re so used to watching them go up up up!

  38. As much as I like to hate on work, you are right – there are a bunch of perks. I get free coffee and time to chat with friends. Some days the stress makes it awful, but it’s really fun to be part of an awesome team and solve problems from time to time.

    1. Not trying to take the fun out of hating on work! Hahaha. (Trust me — we get it! Though our resolution to stop complaining about work has helped us a lot.) But it’s good to recognize the perks, if for no other reason than to prepare yourself to give them up. :-) And given the fun of your teamwork, that’s a good thing to be thinking about losing, and planning for how you might replace that in ER.

  39. My work reimburses me $5/month for phone expenses! True story. :)

    That’s a cool idea to think of all the perks as a chance to act out a life that isn’t really yours. Even if you weren’t retiring early I think that would still be a good way to look at it. I bet *not* thinking that way is what makes some people end up feeling entitled.

    On a barely-related note: I rarely go to Starbucks (not because I’m so super frugal but because I’m just not that into it — their coffee is a little too bitter for me). But someone gave me a Starbucks gift card last week and so I went there this afternoon and ordered a green tea latte with almond milk. And it was SO GOOD. (Also, it cost the same as my work phone reimbursement.)

    1. Hahaha — I suppose it’s the thought that counts. ;-) And totally agree with you — thinking of the perks as something you DESERVE is a surefire path to entitlement. BUT, I completely understand how it happens. And I’ll have to try to Sbux green tea latte on my next trip — I’ve always found them way too sweet, but the soy and coconut milk there are soooo sugary, and maybe it would be less sweet with the low-sugar almond milk?

  40. “Knowing something has a short expiration date is a great reminder to make the conscious effort to remember and appreciate it, so we have clear memories to look back on.” Great quote, used this idea several years ago on my daughter when she was in Spain for a semester, but feeling very isolated due to language barriers. “What would you do if you only had two weeks left in Spain? Do that!” It worked! New follow here…and the countdown for us has begun. Thanks for this!

    1. What great advice for your daughter! I’m so glad she took your advice and improved her experience in Spain. (How awesome does it sound to do what she did?!) What is your timeline to retiring??? Thanks for reading!

  41. I’ve had a lot of different jobs over the years, and many of them came with perks. When I retired, I too gave up traveling on someone else’s dime. The best perks I ever had was when I was a VP of Marketing for a restaurant chain. Travel AND free food… including unlimited dining at competitor’s restaurants.

  42. So you have these wonderful free perks – why not start putting away extra money in your savings, the kind that might equate to the perk, so that when you do retire, you don’t feel disadvantaged (at least until your extra funds run out…). You might even consider when you retire to use those extra funds for something quite different, but if you hadn’t put away the extra, you might not be able to service later…

    1. I think this is a great suggestion, generally, for those who are not already maxing their savings. We’re saving a *very* high percentage of our income and have a lot of contingencies built in — along with loads of travel miles piling up that will gives us tons of free travel — so I think we’re set. :-)

  43. I would miss the meaning and purpose in my day as a teacher. I would also miss the kids and the creative ideas I still enjoy trying out. I would miss watching kids feel so proud about their own growth. I like being needed and appreciated. That is a perk. I also get lots of hugs.

    1. I think you win this comment thread — hugs are the best perk. :-) It’s so wonderful that you’re helping to shape young minds and souls every day — thank you for all you do! I’m sure you don’t hear that enough, and you deserve to hear it constantly! :-)

    1. Assuming you also used the Gazette theme. :-) Though the logo is something we designed, and all the photos are our original shots, so we like to think we’ve made something with the theme that reflects us. :-)

  44. I have driven a company car for over fifteen years now. That means no car payments, no car insurance and a car repairs because when mine reaches a certain age or mileage it gets traded in for a new one. Once my work life ends, along with cell phone plans, data limits and company funded health care programs my “free car” also goes away. Thanks for this reminder! I have tried to make a habit out of appreciation and gratitude for these things. Wonderful post

  45. My perks were more emotional than tangible. I retired from being a liscenced vet tech. We did get the occasional lunch and learn for free food, usually pizza or sandwiches. But I will miss when emergencies came in and we saved a life or when an owner was so very thankful for our work. Being appreciated for my work is the perk I will miss………on the other hand,when clients were belligerent and unreasonable. Nope , not missing that at all😇😇😇

    1. I love your story — and totally agree that the intangible benefits of the job are usually the best part. How wonderful that you got to help save pets’ lives! As dog-obsessed people, we are grateful there are folks like you in the world! :-)

  46. I miss free Broadway tickets from my previous job. Also, up to $5,000 per person dental insurance.
    New job came with $20k pay increase and annual bonus but has zero perks as far as paid expenses or freebies.

    1. Whoa, that’s a pretty sweet perk! Especially if you could get Hamilton… ;-) It’s so interesting how some jobs lure you with direct pay (like your current one, it sounds like), and others focus on the freebies!

  47. My company offers free breakfast every day and an afternoon snack. I don’t usually partake but it is a nice option. I think overall, the hardest part will be the spending for convenience without worrying about money. I will just have to learn to pay attention more when reaching for the wallet.

    -Brian

    1. That IS a nice option to have! And you’re so right — while we’re very price-sensitive in some areas, things that feel like work travel are an area where we currently don’t pay much attention to price, and that will have to change! :-)

  48. I do miss the perks that came with travel from my old job. I’ve stayed in a lot of free rooms and taken several free flights because of points racked up when traveling for work. The best perk was that we could use our personal credit card to put all work expenses on. Before more restrictions on reward points were put in place after the financial crisis, I had a card that gave me 5 points for every dollar spent. I racked up a ton of points traveling for work then. Even after the points came down after the restrictions came about, I still banked quite a lot of points that have paid for numerous things throughout the years. I definitely don’t miss having to travel for work all the time now, but I do miss the points!

    1. Whoa — 5 points per dollar?! That’s a seriously huge perk! We put work charges on our personal cards and get 1 point per dollar on most things, slightly more for flights and hotel stays, but wow! And I think we’ll be in the same boat soon of missing those points, but we’re thankful we’ve piled up enough to last us a long time! ;-)

        1. Yeah, same here — we still rack up the miles, just not quite as fast. (Though, let’s be honest, still pretty darn fast, but mostly because I’m actually flying all those miles!) ;-)

  49. I loved this post. I had just spent this morning in gratitude but I love where you took this and how you said it. I have been home for many years now but like you said you can lose sight of the perks. As my children grow into and a majority are now adults I am constantly reminded that this will not be forever I need to soak up every moment. Thanks so much for sharing this, it is just what I needed this morning.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! :-) It is SO easy to lose sight of everything good, don’t you think? We try hard to remind ourselves of the good stuff in all categories so we never stop appreciating it — that would be its own small tragedy. So glad you’re in a similar head space! :-)

  50. This was a very timely article for me. You posted it while I was on a work trip, and I didn’t have time to actually read it until I got back home. There were some delays and snafus related to arranging my return home, and I was feeling frustrated by the whole thing, rather than appreciating what a privilege it was. This reminds me that I should appreciate the cool experiences I had on the trip (I flew in a 5-seat seaplane!) rather than being annoyed that it took longer than expected to get home (although I am still glad to be home).

    1. I’m glad it spoke to you! And oh my gosh, how cool was your seaplane travel??? That is definitely something I have never done, though the thought of it does make me a little nervous. Glad you made it home eventually! :-)

  51. I recently resigned from an executive position. I had all the perks people have mentioned: high-end iMac on my desk with a second monitor, iPhone with endless data, great tech support, lots of travel with employer paid flights, hotels, meals, & rental cars; executive supplement to an already excellent company pension plan, extended medical (I am in Canada so basic medical is free), tuition discount for myself and dependents, generous professional development supplement, endless free luncheons and rubber chicken dinners, tickets to high profile speakers, wonderful admin assistant who arranged my schedule.

    None of it was worth the leisure time that I exchanged for it. None of it was worth the negative effect that excessive overwork and stress had on my health. Hotel rooms are still hotel rooms, not my living room with my cat on my lap. Restaurant meals every night quickly become tiresome. Yes, my hard work helped me reach FI, but I can’t say I miss any of the perks (well, maybe the tech support and the admin assistant sometimes).

    1. That all sounds pretty great… *if* you have to go to work every day! But like you, I’ll happily trade it all in a heartbeat to have all of my time back. :-) (Okay, I admit it — I’ll miss my assistant and tech support, too! Hahaha.)

  52. I’m going to miss my CME fund. It’s “work travel” but I get to choose which educational conference, where, and when.

    Quite recently, it was in Maui. In November. With my wife whose ticket came courtesy of a credit card bonus.

    On the other hand, in retirement, I will have saved enough to be able to afford a trip to Maui. And I won’t be spending 20-some hours in a conference room. Zero, actually. And the fancy hotels that I get to stay in? They don’t really do anything for us. We’d be just as content in an AirBnB eating grocery store Poke every day.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    1. Wow, that is a pretty sweet perk for sure! I’ve still never left the mainland for work, so no exotic locales for me yet (unless you count Florida and SoCal). But yeah, with you all the way on actually enjoying my time in places after we retire! I always joke that the nicer place they send me to, the less I see of it. The nicest rooms I’ve ever been upgraded to are usually the ones where I’m there for less than 12 hours and I’m asleep for 8 of those!

  53. Work perks are so nice… From my experience: you don’t really miss them when you no longer work. A little like your 2 brains: Once you are on your own time and money, there is generally no need to rush and time to selecet what best matches your values.

    Once, I had the luxury to be in Brazil for work, nice hotel room and fancy convenient restaurants close to the hotel almost each night (why not?). When we travelled in Brazil on private time, the hotels were not that fancy and the restaurants were what we wanted: discover local bars and food courts, reach out with the locals… I had no issue switching…

    1. That’s good to know! I suspect we’ll be similar when we make the switch and lose the perks. Like you, we WANT to discover the authentic local stuff, so don’t need to pay the high prices for convenience coffee or meals.

  54. My husband likes to regularly remind me of the things that *he* misses about my last job, specifically benefits he got out of me having the job that I didn’t use.

    I traveled a bit for one of my previous jobs when I was single and I kind of loved it. I usually went for longer periods than you seem to, but it was in some ways a way to extend the minimal vacation time I got as an entry-level hire.

    Depending on traffic, I actually occasionally find the train to be faster than a cab. In that case, I’ll take the train over the cab even though work is really paying for either.

    My husband’s employer provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks for him, plus dinner if they stay past dinner. That keeps our grocery bill really cheap since lately it’s just been feeding me. They’ll even cover his Ubers to work if they’re not covering his parking. They pay for most of his cell phone bill too.

    Work pays for pretty awesome medical plans. I’ll definitely miss that part as I do use my medical and adding me to my husband’s plan will cost a reasonable chunk of change even though once we get past the premiums, his is pretty good of a plan too. Clearly I don’t think I’ll miss much about work! Although that 401(k) match at my last job was pretty sweet… The discounts were pretty good too, but I hardly used them and would have preferred to just have a bit more salary.

    One thing I don’t like about work perks is that if you use enough of them (like tuition reimbursement), I feel like you end up being more likely to get on the list of people laid off as you’re more expensive. Then why do they offer the benefits when they don’t really want you to use them?

    1. High tech is definitely known for the great perks, and it sounds like your husband is getting a lot of them! Almost none of my “perks” are actually built in, but are more like things I’ve managed to life hack for myself with all the travel. ;-)

      Interesting point about layoffs — I’ve never heard that reasoning in my megacorp, but I’m sure it’s different everywhere.

      1. Well the problem with tuition reimbursement specifically is that it takes away your time for overtime which is bad when your peers are putting in overtime, putting you not at the same level of achievement as them.

  55. One thing that doesnt seemed to have happened to your job yet is the down grading of travel expenses and resulting limited perks. At mega-corps they now do things like:
    — car rentals are typically sub compact
    — meals are a per diem and it is less than the government per diem
    — hotels are only via a selected list and are typically Hampton inn or hilton garden or similar
    — must take the cheapest flight on any airline so no favoring airline where one has status.

    None of this is brutal for the occasional trip. But for a road warrior it isnt exactly great and limits the perks you called out in your post.

    There are now travel managemnt companies marking services to smaller companies to help them save like this as well. Corporate travel perks are goong away……

    1. Definitely true — we have not gotten to this point… yet. There are definitely plenty of restrictions already in place that didn’t use to be there. But most of our travel is client-billable, therefore not paid by the megacorp itself, so I think that puts less pressure on them to instigate these types of demoralizing changes. Glad we’ll be out of the workforce before any more of these changes come our way… or at least HOPE we make it out in time!

  56. My girlfriend’s job is ending soon and I will miss some of the really awesome events she was able to take me to. They were an honor and just so darn cool. We don’t know what she’s doing next, but we know it will be very different.

  57. Thank you for this article! I am about to say goodbye to my many work perks in exchange for farm life in Europe. Like you mentioned in your post airline and hotel upgrades will be very much missed. The convenience brain versus cost brain is something I didn’t think of but will be a huge change to get used to in my new life. I will most miss the client dinners. Even though they can be extremely exhausting and I usually dream of room service in bed at 7:30 when it is going on 9 PM and dessert has not been ordered but I have been able to order decadently at some of the most amazing restaurants in the country. Something I should not take for granted in my last few weeks of work travel! Good luck in the change! I will keep following!

    1. Wow, you have such a huge life transition coming! How exciting! And I totally feel your pain on what you’re giving up. I’m currently in a cool hotel in a cool city I’ve loved walking around — no swanky meals or room service, but still the chance to check out an interesting place on my client’s dime. Hard to complain about that! ;-) Enjoy those last few weeks of work travel, and good luck with your huge life change!

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