The Cost of Our Jobs

by Kristina Tahnyak on July 26, 2010 · 5 comments

black and white tie

Today we will discuss our jobs…as an expense in our monthly (or weekly) budgets.  I read an interesting article on MSNCareers titled “Is Your Job Costing You Too Much Money?” It discussed the price of having a new job, and all of the added expenses that come along with changing careers.

When we are thinking about changing careers we need to consider more than just the annual salary and benefits. We should take all other expenses such as wardrobe, transportation, and lunchroom facilities into consideration when deciding to accept a new job offer.  In the end, our decision to accept a new job offer could end up becoming a costly mistake.

As an example, in the world of banking, the career change from an administrative center into a bank branch generates a huge change in personal expenses.  The dress code guidelines for bank branch employees are very strict.  Hair and Makeup should always be styled, heels should be between 1-2.5 inches, and, in my case, a collar should always be worn; such as a blouse or a suit blazer.  In an administrative center the dress code is less strict, and the attire is usually business casual.  Therefore the cost of a complete wardrobe change can be very expensive.

One of the main expenses that an employee can have is the luxury of eating out. I call it a luxury because not everyone can afford to spend an extra $50 to $100 per week on personal food.  The article on MSN Careers also discusses the “I’ve had a long day, and I don’t feel like cooking” excuse.  This decision adds additional dinner expenses when we do a quick fast food drive by on the way home from work.

An administrative center or call center can sometimes employ hundreds of employees, whereas a bank branch usually employs less than 30 people.  In a career location where the number of staff is smaller, the kitchen may also be smaller.  Therefore, options for bringing a lunch may be limited, and buying our lunches may become an added weekly expense.  Think of your last week at work.  How many days did you buy your lunch?

The geographic location of a new job is also something to consider along with the associated costs. When I started my career at the bank I worked in an investment call center in downtown Montreal.  As I also live downtown, I walked to work every day.  However, now that I work in the bank branch I have to drive my Honda every day to and from work.  Although my Honda Civic is generally good on gas consumption, driving in a large city is always costly in gas.  In the winter months I don’t drive my car to work.  December until March, I use the public subway which is an added expense of $70 per month for those four months.

What monthly expenses do you have that are specifically related to your job?

(Photo By Okko)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dan @ Casual Kitchen July 26, 2010 at 8:28 am

Agreed that people in general, including myself, over-focus on the salary/benefits part of a job. But there are also non-dollar costs worth thinking about: the cost to your health and long term sanity of a job with long hours or a monster commute. Taking a job that involves more hours can cost you precious time for relationships with your spouse, family or kids. In many cases these are far more “costly” than things like wardrobe or commuting costs.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post!


2 Tim July 26, 2010 at 11:41 pm

A good cafeteria and convenience stores that do not gouge you makes a big difference towards wanting to go to work for me. I simply cannot believe how many places have terrible cafeteria’s and charge a ton for crappy food. As far as wardrobe is concerned, I do not see that you have to spend a ton of money to get a quality wardrobe together. However, unless you are dramatically changing career fields, I do not see this as a revolving expense when you change jobs, though.

I have lots of work related expenses, but I don’t really think about them. I bring my own lunch, because the cafeteria sucks and is way over priced ( I hate places that charge by weight for salad), and the only convenience store at work has a captive audience so only takes cash and charges triple what you would normally pay at a 7 eleven. i do not expense going to conferences, which I attend a lot, b/c normally those conferences make my life easier by being closer to my house than work.

3 Donna Freedman July 28, 2010 at 1:23 am

I work at home as a writer, so I avoid the “business attire” trap and the commuting costs. What I wish I had, though, is a company that paid a portion of my medical insurance. Right now I’m paying $338 a month for an HMO, but at least I can *get* insurance. A friend of mine said her insurance was about to go up to $750 a month (!) but fortunately she was hired part-time at a place that gets her the same level of coverage for only $70 a month. BIG difference, that.

4 Kristina July 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I agree. Too many people focus on money. When we consider a job offer we also need to consider how it will affect our home life and family life. Yes, making $100,000 per year is great, but at what cost? There is a scene in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” that a character says…Let me know when your relationship blows up in smoke. That means it’s time for a promotion.

5 infinte banking August 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm

@donna it’s crazy what’s going on with health insurance lately, lucky for your friend getting hired part time! I can honestly say this is the first time i’ve even considered the “other side of the coin” when it comes to changing jobs. However at this point with unemployment at record highs I don’t think anybody is turning down anything they can get…

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