Do you ever wonder how much money you’re really making? When we factor in all of our job’s costs, we find that the amount of money we’re making per hour is often much less than we think.
Take, for example, your commute. If you make $15 an hour and work 8 hours a day, but you commute an hour to work and an hour home, then you’re actually spending 10 hours a day doing tasks related to work. So $15 times 8 hours is $120. $120 divided by 10 hours is $12, meaning your actual hourly pay is now only $12 an hour for the time spent on work.
When we start factoring in other costs, your pay drops even further.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various costs of having a job to help you determine if your job is costing you too much and if it’s time to start looking elsewhere for employment.
The Cost of Commuting to Work
According to The Fool, the average American spends roughly $1,249 per year on fuel and auto maintenance on their daily commute to work. So if we break that down, the average American spends approximately $104.08 per month just to get to work.
The national average commute each way to work is 26 minutes, meaning the average American spends just under an hour a day traveling to and from their job.
Let’s use a practical example to demonstrate this cost.
Assume you make $15 an hour, work 5 days a week, for 8 hours per day.
With this example, you earn $120 per day, or $600 per week for a 40 hour week. Now, let’s add 1 hour per day for a roundtrip commute, assuming you’re an average American. This brings your workweek up to 45 hours.
Next, let’s subtract $104 from your monthly pay, which is approximately $26 per week.
You’re now making $574 per week for 45 hours of work. With this example, you’re now down to $12.75/hr that you earn for your time, minus commute.
Having a work-from-home job solves some of this problem, as you won't need to commute anymore.
The Cost of Clothing for Work
Unless you’re issued a uniform at work, you’ll likely spend money on clothes – both to buy the clothes and keep them cleaned.
Average Americans spend approximately $134 per month on clothing and clothing cleaning costs – including dry cleaning and shoe cleaning. This includes clothing used for both work and everyday life.
Some workers will spend more on clothes, such as if they need to buy business attire, suits, shoes, bags, briefcases, and so on. Others may have more casual jobs where typical clothing is acceptable.
Assess how much you’re spending on work attire to determine how much money from your paychecks each month is consumed by maintaining a specific appearance.
The Cost of Meals at Work
Buying lunch at work every day can be an expensive habit. This leaves us deciding to either bring a bagged lunch, which generally costs very little, or buying lunch and drinks while on the job.
According to the blog Practical Money Skills, the average American spends $2,746 per year on lunch at work. That means the average American spends around $52.80 per week just on lunch, or about $10.56 per day if you work 5 days per week.
Bringing a bagged lunch can cost much less, often $3 or less per day.
Think of it this way. If you’re currently spending $10 per day at work for lunch, and you start to bring your lunch instead, assuming you spend $3 per day this way, you save $7 per day that you work. If you work 50 of the 52 weeks of a year, you save $7 for 250 days, or $1,750.
What would you do with an extra $1,750?
If you find that you only have time at work to buy lunch each day, make sure to factor that in when you determine how much money you’re actually earning at the end of each pay period.
Get a Remote, Flexible Job and Resume and Career Coaching at FlexJobs
FlexJobs is the #1 job search site for hand-screened flexible and remote jobs since 2007.
Plus, get resume, coaching, and career help.
The Cost of Your Mental Health from Some Jobs
It’s common to be stressed due to work. For example, you may work with rude customers or have a lot of pressure to meet deadlines. As a result, you may have to put in extra hours or get an emergency call in the middle of the night.
Stress from work causes us to spend more money on things that make us feel better. This could be food, sweets, entertainment, or less healthy things such as alcohol or cigarettes.
Stress can cause physical and mental health issues if not dealt with properly.
The result of reducing stress generally comes at the cost of spending money. You may spend money on things to help you feel better from working to earn money. However, too much spending in order to earn more can be counterproductive.
Time is Priceless
Every hour you spend at work is an hour of your life you don’t have to yourself. Now, this isn’t terrible if you enjoy your job or, of course, need the money.
One way to make better use of your time is to find a job that pays better or start a side hustle to earn money on the side to replace some of your income from your job. When you replace some of your job’s income, you may be able to work fewer hours or work at a more enjoyable job that may pay less.
Work One-on-One with a Professional Resume Writer at ResumeWriters
Professionally written resumes to land you your next job.
Cover letters and LinkedIn profiles available on demand.
Childcare in America Averages Over $10,000 per Household
Childcare is costly in America, and if you pay someone else to watch your kids while you work, you’ll need to factor that into your work expenses.
Options to reduce childcare expenses while working are for you or your spouse to work from home, a family member or friend to watch your children, or find a less expensive childcare person or place.
Wrapping It Up
We may often feel trapped at our job despite the high cost we pay even to have one. However, sometimes when you look at it, your job is costing you so much that your net hourly pay is a lot less than what you thought originally. With that in mind, it might make sense to look into other employment options if your job is costing you more than you anticipated.
What are some thoughts you have about the real-life costs of your job?
Dave is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) and is passionate about spreading financial literacy. He founded Clean Cut Finance in 2021 and has been featured on websites like Yahoo! Finance, MoneyGeeks, and GoBankingRates. In his spare time, Dave enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, racing simulation, and reading.