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Alternative Culture Articles

October 1, 2000

How Much Does Your Job Cost?
By Royce Carlson

The usual question people ask themselves when they are considering a new job is, "How much will I get paid?" This question includes not only money, but other compensation such as health benefits, retirement programs, promotion possibilities, cars, etc. The question that is not asked is, "How much does it cost to have a job?"

Depending on the job, there is an assortment of requirements in order for you to get to your job and then do the work that is required of you. Probably the first, and possibly the most expensive, part about having a job is where you live. In order to work a job in many major metropolitan areas, you must have a home in which to live. Housing can be expensive. Home prices in the Silicon Valley practically start at $300,000. On the other hand, living in rural Arkansas, for example is quite cheap. You can get a modest house for under $50,000. If you want a job in Silicon Valley you might have to pay six times the housing cost of getting a job in Arkansas.

Once you have a place to live, unless you actually live at work, you will have to get to and from your job. This requires transportation. If you live within a few miles of work you could walk, but most people donít. They need to drive or take public transportation. This takes money. Not only do you have to consider the cost of fuel for a car, you also have to consider the cost of the car, maintenance, and insurance.

Many jobs require a certain standard of dress. This means that you may have to buy specific clothing for your work. A Uniform is an obvious type of job-related clothing, but so is a business suit. And suits are expensive! If you work more than a few days a week you need to have several outfits. These costs add up.

Finally, another consideration is the amount of money you will have to spend paying other people to do the things that you donít have time to do because of your job. Child-care is a big one, but what about laundry services, gardeners, car washes, home maintenance and eating out? If you didnít have a job, you wouldnít have to pay other people for theses services. You would have time to do them yourself. In the same vein, if you had more time, you could do a better job of shopping for the items you do need, thereby saving money.

So, you see, itís expensive to have a job! Itís even more expensive in the long run if your job is stressful. Expensive health problems can result from having a dangerous job. If you hate your job, you are damaging your health by keeping it. This is a very real cost of having a job. People who are stressed in their jobs often feel that itís necessary to reward themselves with something extravagant just for putting up with their work. They will buy on credit and then be even more trapped in their job as a result.

If you want to see how much your job costs, make a chart of job-related expenses. It may require a little research. For example, if there is a difference between where you live and where you want to live, figure the difference between the two housing costs. Unless you love to wear a uniform or a suit, you can count those costs. If you didnít have a job, you might not need a car at all. Figure that in, too. Add up all the costs and subtract them from the amount of money you actually take home from your job. You may be spending almost as much to have a job as you are receiving from your job!

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Royce Carlson