Having a job is an essential part of being an adult. Some people may love their jobs and others may hate them. You might work full-time or part-time and maybe you’re even thinking about starting a side hustle. Either way, jobs pay the bills, help you save money, and can help you grow on a personal level.
But, have you ever added up how much money your job is actually costing you?
Yes, your job may be costing you money.
In certain situations, your job might cost you more than it’s worth.
That probably sounds a little crazy, but when you take how much you are bringing home and subtract the cost of keeping that job, you might be surprised by how little you have left each month.
I have had countless readers email me about situations where they are paying $1,500 a month for childcare despite earning only $1,000 a month. Or, there are people spending $1,000 per month on their commute for a job that earns them $1,000. Yes, people really do this.
While these two situations seem like no brainers, many people are probably spending more to work than they actually realize.
And, everyone spends at least a little money to work.
Here are some average annual costs you may be paying in order to work:
- Childcare – $11,666
- Clothing – $600
- Food – $2,600
- Time – Priceless
- Sanity – Priceless
- Commuting – $7,000 to $11,000
- Outsourcing – $1,000+
- Missing out on life events – Priceless
Now, I’m not saying everyone should go into work today and quit their jobs. Your job probably has other benefits, such as health insurance or you may genuinely love your job. Those are important things to consider when thinking about other opportunities.
What I’m saying today is that you may want to evaluate your options, think about the total amount it costs to work at a job, find ways to save money, and make a list of pros and cons to help you decide what to do. You may even want to look for a new job that is more worthwhile than your current one, and I’ll talk more about that at the end of this post.
As a personal finance blogger I am all for people earning a living, paying their bills, and saving for retirement, but you always want to be realistic with your options.
Below are expenses you may be paying in order to work:
The average cost of daycare is $11,666 per year, and that varies greatly depending on where you live. For example, Washington, D.C. has the highest child care costs at over $20,000 per year. And, CNBC recently reported that child care is becoming so expensive that it’s leading many families to have fewer children.
I’m not a parent, but I have lots of friends who are. I also have a lot of readers who, like my friends, have shared stories about how much childcare costs. I even know people who work during the day and send their kids to daycare but then have to take a second job to actually cover those childcare costs.
If you have children, this is one of the biggest costs of working. Childcare costs don’t end once your child goes to school either, because depending on their age and school, you may also have to pay for before or after care.
Many companies have dress codes that will require you to buy some sort of wardrobe to wear to work.
This may mean khakis, polos, suits, nice shoes, or something else. Whatever your job may be, I’m sure you have to buy something clothing-wise in order to fit your company’s policies.
Let’s estimate this at $50 per month for work clothing, which is probably on the low end considering the average person spends around $150 per month on clothing. While you may not need to buy new work clothes every month, just gathering enough pieces together so it doesn’t look like you are wearing the same thing over and over again is expensive.
And, these clothes are often only worn to work. I know when I was working as a financial analyst, I never wore those clothes to anywhere besides work. I was so happy to get rid of them when I left my job five years ago.
How often do you pick up coffee on your way to work or in the middle of the day? How many times a week do you go out to eat with coworkers? Do you ever go out for happy hour? For dinner, do you find yourself going out to eat or doing take out more because you find yourself too tired (or stressed) at the end of a busy work day?
Those are all very common ways that your job may be causing you to spend more than you should on food.
Coffee might be $5 a day, lunch $10 to $20, and dinner could be around $40 for you and your partner. That can really add up over the course of a month or year!
If we estimated that on the low end, you might be spending $50 to $70 per week on extra food spending.
If you want to get your food spending under control and help you plan meals and lunches, I recommend checking out $5 Meal Plan for healthy and budget friendly recipes.
- The Power Of Meal Planning – 6 Reasons Meal Planning Will Change Your Life
- 10 Easy Fall Recipes – Best Fall Dinner Ideas For Your Meal Plan
- 10 Budget Lunch Ideas And Cheap Easy Meals You Should Try
Towards the end of my day job I found myself spending a decent amount of money in order to keep my sanity, as I really disliked my day job. I was spending money on clothing, food, and more because I thought I “deserved” it for how unhappy I was.
You might be doing the same type of emotional spending that I was.
When you dislike your job or are just overly stressed or tired, you may spend money on massages, getaways, clothing, food, and more to make yourself feel a little better at the end of a long week.
The average person spends anywhere from $7,000 to $11,000 to own a car each year.
While this amount of money may seem high, there is a chance you spend somewhere in that range too. There’s the actual cost of the car, fuel costs, car insurance, and car maintenance, which can quickly add up to a lot of money.
Let’s not also forget the amount of time it takes to commute. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average travel time to commute to work is 25.4 minutes, or approximately 50 minutes round trip each day.
In some cities, the average commute can be much longer. If you live in New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles you may spend over an hour on your round trip commute every day.
If you are sitting in traffic for much of your commute, that can add a even more stress to the beginning or end of your work day.
When you are working a lot, you may outsource certain tasks around your home because your job doesn’t allow you the time for them.
This may include lawn maintenance, house cleaning, meal prep, and more.
Let’s estimate this at $100 per month spent on outsourcing. Some people spend much more on this, whereas others may spend less. If you’re outsourcing each month, though, it’s most likely at least $100 per month.
Missing out on life events
When you work a job that requires you to be in a certain place for so many hours per week, your job might cause you to miss out on important life events.
I know we have all probably had a few things we’ve been unable to attend because work gets in the way, and this is a hard thing to put price on.
You may miss spending quality time with your family and friends, you may be too tired to reach a dream of yours, you may be too stressed out to do anything outside of work, and so on.
Time is something everyone wishes they had more of. If your job is costing you more money than it’s worth, then you are wasting a ton of time by continuing to work there.
There are 168 hours in a week. If you spend 40 hours a week working, 4 hours each week on your commute, and 5 hours every week getting ready for work, then you are spending nearly a third of your week on your job, and that doesn’t even include sleeping!
But, what’s the other option?
I’ve talked a lot in this article about how much you job may be costing you, from financial costs to emotional ones. While it’s easy to see that a traditional 9-5 job is the only option, there are other options.
Back when I started this blog, I had no idea it would eventually allow me to quit my job as a financial analyst and start traveling full-time. What started as a side hustle that I did outside of work hours eventually turned into a full-time job.
Working from home, which is currently on a sailboat, has allowed me to have a flexible schedule that means I get to be around for whatever life events come up.
I have no commute, I can wear whatever I want, and I’m not spending more on food to work.
Side hustles take a lot of work, but they are something you can pursue and eventually turn into a full-time job. Also, because they offer little to no start-up costs, they are a no brainer if you are wanting to break out of that normal job cycle and start earning and saving even more money.
- How To Side Hustle – Answers To The Most Common Side Hustle Question
- From Well-Paying Day Job To Risky Full-Time Side Hustle – Why I Made The Switch
- How To Quit Your Job And Become A Full-Time Blogger
Now, not everyone needs to start a business.
You may want to evaluate your options and find ways to save money. I wanted to show you these common costs today so that you are aware of what you may be spending in order to work – because hopefully it’ll motivate you to save more money!
How much is your job costing you? Is it worth it? Have you ever considered doing something else?
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When I had my second child, I had to decide whether to stay working and go opposite 12-hour shifts with my husband, or work the same day and have like 14-hr childcare. So we decided it would be beneficial for us that I stop working and just care for our kids. I had already had a few friends stay home to care for their children, so I felt like it was a normal thing to do. Out of all the ladies that were pregnant with me at work, I’m the only one that decided to quit. I don’t regret it one bit!
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Sounds like you made a good decision 🙂
The childcare one is huge, especially for women who are often faced with staying home with their child or continuing to work and feeling like half or more of their income goes to childcare. That being said I’ve also met moms of 3 or 4 children who still work full time, alongside a full time working spouse!
When I had an office job the factors that got to me were commute (gas and time sitting in a car), mental/emotional health (road rage, long hours, no time to work out). I found that while I made a good wage, I was so tired and short on time I would spend more. Since leaving that job I learned to shop deals, use coupons and more.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Yes, the childcare one is definitely huge. I have heard from so many parents who spend almost the same amount (or more) on childcare each month than one of the parents brings home.
I think it’s also important to take into consideration the long-term opportunity cost when it comes to childcare. Obviously staying home can be the right decision for lots of parents, but it’s not just a matter of “this is how much childcare costs per month and this is my take-home pay per month.” Opting out of the work force also means you lose out on those years contributing to social security and a 401k, IRA and/or other retirement account, as well as potential pay raises. Lots of parents have to basically start from scratch when if they return to work when their kids are older.
Granted, sometimes it’s not even a choice – if you don’t have enough money to pay for childcare, those calculations don’t matter. But if you do have the means to pay for childcare, it’s possible that the short term sacrifice may be outweighed by long-term rewards. And on the flip side, if you have a strong pull to stay home with your kids, the long-term financial sacrifice may be worth it!
J.O.B. means “just over broke!” 😛
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I’ve definitely noticed that people forget to consider how much time their commute is when taking a job. One of my side hustles is that of a brand ambassador which pays pretty decently. I can make about 25-35 per hour and they are normally 3 hours for each gig. Years ago I would be enticed by the $25 pay rate and drive an hour for the work. But once I realized that two hours of commute time plus the two hours of working turned my $25 per hour rate into $12.50 – not to mention the wear and tear on my car. I still do brand ambassador work because its great side money but now I only go 30 minutes away from home to make sure the time and money worth it.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Kaushal Dhawan says
These all the factors which you have mentioned the need for everyone. You rightly said if a person is happy with his job then it’s not the problem. But when somebody hates his job and even can’t afford the daily need of the family he should leave his job and focus on some other work.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Thank you 🙂
Great article! It is easy to assume you need a job but it is important to consider the full cost. If you are considering the full cost you should also consider the full benefits in addition to your pay. Benefits, healthcare, a community, a chance to expand your skill set.
For a female who wants to progress in my career (future) childcare costs are well worth it in the long run.
I work into family’s business and yes I spend 1000 for train subscription, I have a car and I pay insurance but with budget and planning I fell good about finance and I love my job because is with family and it isn’t boring… there is always something to learn
I have this discussion with my husband almost daily. I wish I had a month off to just read all your articles. You have inspired us to become financially free and pursue a different type of life.
Beth Anne says
I’m currently looking for a better paid job and so many of them will require a 30-1hr commute (right now I work 5 miles from home) and I just don’t know that the pay raise is going to be worth it. Plus I will have to double or triple my gas bill along with many of the other things you mention here like more meals out, more clothing purchases, etc.
But I agree when you have children esp you really need to do the math. The only way I can see paying $1000 in childcare when you are earning like $1500 a month is if you have really good health insurance.
I found myself nodding on most of these items, especially childcare and outsourcing. After our second son we decided to outsource lawn care. I can’t say I’m particularly happy about paying it but it sure makes weekends better!
One thing I don’t see many people mention is the cost of keeping their kids at home. Sure, you’re saving on childcare, but you’r also heating and cooling your home, cooking more, and doing more cleaning/dishes. This can easily add up to several hundreds of dollars per month of additional cost depending on where you live. This may be offset by other cost savings, like commuting, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Mike Beatty says
This is amazing Michelle. As a teacher this is the biggest thing that frustrates me about the whole education system…
Kids are STILL not being taught there are other options. 99.9% of teachers still think the students are successful if they get good grades, go to a uni and get a good job.
Life has changed so much within a relatively short space of time thanks to the Internet and automation of certain tasks by robots and machines.
I would rather every student (and teacher) spent time reading this article than go to school for another day.
Thanks so much for sharing and doing what you do