Weighing the Costs of a Career

Is your career costing you money?

The old adage is true: It takes money to make money. Maybe more than you think.

A U.S. Department of Labor study, cited in Andy Dappen’s Shattering the Two Income Myth, found that the average family with two incomes loses as much as two-thirds of its second paycheck to work-related expenses.

Consider:
Commuting costs. Commuting to and from home, work, and day care, the cost of parking at work, depreciation on your car during those extra miles, extra repairs and insurance.

Day care expenses. The cost of day care itself, as well as increased medical costs to take care of the bugs your child might contract during the first 6 months to a year of day care.

Entertainment expenses. The bill for coffee breaks, lunches and dinners out, as well as any “happy hour expenses” you might accrue while making the transition from office to home life.
 
“Guilt” expenses. These include the toys, treats, and trips to McDonalds you take because you feel guilty for working long hours. 

"Fatigue" expenses. Figure a larger budget for eating out because you’re too tired to cook.

Work expenses. Consider any decreased productivity in the office due to sleep deprivation as well as the cost of formula, unless you plan to pump your breasts at work. This category also includes home office expenses, such as a fax machine or modem for communicating with the office during your off-hours. Also, add up any continuing education expenses that your company does not reimburse.

Image expenses. Dry cleaning, pantyhose, and business suits, as well as haircuts and manicures above and beyond that which you would have as a stay-at-home, or work-at-home, mom.

Family Manager costs. These are the expenses you pay to someone else to do those tasks you would have time to do yourself if you were at home, such as simple appliance or car repairs and, perhaps, the family’s tax accounting. Also, figure the money you would save if you had more time to research the best buys on major purchases.

Of course, there is more to the equation than money. Also consider the time and energy you spend for that supplemental income. 
We must also consider that many people work, not just for money, but for the satisfaction they receive from a job well done. Because there are so many motivations for working outside the home, and so many different financial and family profiles, it’s impossible to think that one option will work for everyone. But, if you’re looking for it, there are alternatives to full-time office work.

Womans-work.com, a website devoted to helping women find alternative work arrangements, has also compiled a Wage Comparisons worksheet to help you determine the actual monetary difference between working at home and working outside the home. This is a great resource for anyone ready to make a change.