What Does Your Job Cost You?

When we think about working, we generally focus on the hours we work per week and the total paycheck. While it’s true that getting the most pay for your hard work is critical, there are other aspects to consider when thinking about the value of your job.

While employment brings you income, but it costs you as well. If you are on track with living a simpler, healthier, greener lifestyle, you need to consider all drains on your budget including this one.

Here are 5 ways your job may be costing you:

1. Commute expenses.

A. How much gas are you when you travel to work? Figure out your average gas mileage:

1) The day before your work week begins, fill your car with gas and jot down the mileage reading on your odometer.

2) Get the accurate distance of your drive, not your estimate but the mileage from your odometer. Jot down the mileage when you leave home and the mileage when you park in the lot then subtract them. Or use your vacation mileage counter, if you have one.

3) When the tank is low, fill the tank again. Note down the number of gallons you’ve used and the miles you’ve driven.

4) Divide the miles by the number of gallons. For example, if you have driven 355 miles and used 10 gallons of gas, you would divide 355 by 10. Your miles per gallon would be 35.5.

5) Take your distance to work from #3, multiply by 2 to get the to-and-from amount. Then multiply by the number of days you work per month. For example, if you drive 5 miles to work, then your to-and-from distance is 10 miles per day. If you work 20 days per month, you drive a total of 200 miles per month.

6) Multiply the miles per month by your gas mileage. In this case 200 miles times 35.5 miles per gallon equals 5.63 gallons per month.

7) With gas at $2.00 per gallon, your total gas allowance for your job is $11.26 per month.

B. Do you own your car because of this job? If so, add your car payments, insurance, and maintenance costs per month. Even stops at the car wash should be included. The average older car costs about $1200 per year in repairs, so add $100 per month for repairs as well, if your car is more than 5 years old.

2. Does your closet contain clothes you consider your work clothes? If so, how much does it cost to maintain your wardrobe. For example, bank tellers and clerks at upscale clothing stores are expected to look classy on a very un-classy paycheck. How much is your work wardrobe worth? And how much does it take to maintain it?

3. Do you pay for daycare or after-school care? Be sure to add those expenses to your list along with special food, diapers, or other materials these services require.

4. What about the fatigue factor? Do you stop for fast food or call out for pizza because you are so tired you can’t face the kitchen routine? Mark those charges on your kitchen calendar (Ordered Pizza, $25) and add them up at the end of the month. Add 75% of the total to your monthly work expense list since you would still pay about 25% of the cost when you cook a meal.

Once you have your 4 amounts, think about how you could cut costs in each category. By shopping for consignment items? Paying a student for after-school care instead of a childcare service? Trading in for a more fuel-efficient car?

Don’t rule out the possibility of finding a job closer to home or a job with flexible hours so you could avoid childcare expenses. Working at home eliminates the car, wardrobe, and childcare altogether. Even at a greatly reduced income, you may still come out ahead. Is that an option for you?

No matter how large your paycheck seems, what really matters is how much you get to keep.