You have a job to make money, right? On the surface, that’s what seems to be happening. But just like any money making venture, there are costs incurred to produce that income. Most of us don’t think of these as business expenses, and the IRS won’t even let us deduct most of them to prove it. But that doesn’t mean that jobs don’t cost money—they do. How much is your job costing you?
One of the misconceptions about having a job is in thinking you aren’t in business—you are. And just like any business, you have income—your salary—and expenses, which we’ll cover in some detail.
Even if you have a job, you’re still in business, only with a job your income comes from a single client.
What are those costs?
My wife works an eight hour day, but the day is actually a good deal longer than eight hours. She leaves the house at 7:45 in the morning, and doesn’t get home until 5:45 in the afternoon. By my calculation, that’s a ten hour day. Or 50 hours per week. Or 200+ hours per month. By any measure, that’s a lot of time devoted to “an eight hour day”.
I suspect that’s the situation for most full time workers. It’s not just the time spend at work, but also the time commuting—both ways—plus lunch, and even more so if you have overtime or off hours work functions. This extra time, over and above the regular work schedule, and generally uncompensated, is an extra cost of holding a job.
So just hypothetically, if you make $20 per hour on your job, but you have to spend 10 hours on your eight hour job, you’re out $40 per day for the extra two hours of uncompensated but totally necessary work related time. In the course of a year that’s over $2,000!
Paying others to do what you don’t have time for
Another time related cost here. While you’re working, you have less time to do what ever needs to be done with the rest of your life. Most likely, you’re paying others to take care of that for you. It may be paying someone to care for your children, to clean your house or to cut the lawn. All of that costs money and you may have to pay it because you simply have no time left.
Can we put a dollar figure on that? Not here, because it all depends on how many services you pay others to do. I’d guess though that it’s well into the thousands for an average person, at least on an annual basis.
Holding a job usually means spending more money for clothing. Most employers have some sort of dress code, and even if it’s a casual one, it’s likely more formal than what you wear around the house. And then there are the dry cleaning bills…
Again, how much you spend here depends on individual circumstances. Some employers enforce stricter dress codes that are more expensive for their employees. Some employees even like the formality and over-comply. However it plays out, you’re spending more money as a result of your job.
This is the most obvious cost for a job. Whether you drive your own car to work every day or take public transportation, it costs money to get to your job each day.
How much? The IRS allows up to 55 cents per mile as a reasonable estimate of the cost of running a car. That includes gas, maintenance, depreciation and wear and tear. To get an idea what it costs you to commute to work and back each day, just take your round trip commute, multiply it by five days for a week, then again times 50 weeks to come up with a reasonable estimate of your commuting costs.
If you travel 20 miles round trip, or 100 miles per week, or 5,000 miles per year, you’re spending about $2,750 each year on commuting. And that’s not tax deductible either.
Most of us don’t think of this as a job related cost but it is. Many people eat lunch in restaurants each day, and even if you only eat in fast food places at $5 per day, you’re still spending about $1,300 each year just to buy your lunch.
If you were working from home, you’d probably just get up and make yourself a sandwich at lunchtime—that’s what I do. Sure there’s a cost to that, but it’s a lot lower than $1,300 a year.
rrrrrrrrrrr S-T-R-E-S-S !!!
Whether you work at home or in an office, there’s stress. After all, work is work and there’s a paycheck attached to it, and that means stress. But when you work in an office you have to deal with office politics, close supervision and time wasting meetings. You also have to deal with the aforementioned commutes and company dress codes.
Though it’s hard to measure stress in monetary terms there definitely is a financial cost. Stress causes more trips to the doctor, greater reliance on medications, more meals out (“I just don’t have time to cook tonight”) and more money spent on activities meant to decompress. The range of possibilities is endless here, so coming up with even a rough estimate is virtually impossible.
This one isn’t monetary but it may be the biggest cost of all. Opportunity cost is what you’re not doing while you’re doing something else.
If you enjoy your job and the work that you do, there probably is no opportunity cost. But if you find your work to be boring and unfulfilling, and something you do only to pay the bills, you’re mostly going through the motions. What else could you be doing to earn a living that might make you feel good about your work? The answer to that question defines your opportunity cost.
You could be working for yourself, or you might be working in a job that while it doesn’t pay nearly as well as your current job, it would be much more fulfilling and enjoyable for you. Which begs the question: now that you have some idea what your job is costing you—and maybe even realizing for the first time that it even is costing you—what might you do about it?