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How Much It Really Costs to Work

Now that you’ve figured out your expenses, your next plan of attack in this series is to figure out how much it actually costs you to work. You’ve probably thought about this before when paying childcare or filling your car with gasoline, I’m sure, but I’m going to make a light bulb really go off for you when you see the true cost of working outside of the home.

Let’s say you make $35,000.00 a year. You may make more or less, but often a job that pays more also has higher expenses. If you make less than $35K a year, we really need to get you home, so you can keep more of your salary.


$ Child Care

This is an obvious expense. If you have children under the age of about twelve or thirteen and you work, then you have to pay for child care. Even if your kids are older, you may have expenses involved in not being home when they are, like repairing the house after your teens throw a wild party (just kidding, kind of). The rates for child care vary widely from area to area, but a good rule of thumb is $100 per child per week. If you are a typical family with 2 or 3 children, that is $200.00 a week minimum being spent on child care.

Cost to Work Outside the Home: $10,400.00 a year

$ Gasoline & Vehicle Upkeep

Unless you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of your job, you likely commute to work. The cost to commute can be considerable. If you figure a conservative 35 cents a mile for gasoline and repairs, you’ll be suprised at how it adds up. Let’s say your work is a mere 20 miles from your home. That is a 40 mile round trip. If you only work five days a week, that adds up to 200 miles a week or a whopping 10,000 miles a year (calculated at 50 weeks to allow for vacation time).

Cost to Work Outside the Home: $3500.00 a year

$ Taxes

You’ll have to pay taxes on your salary. Hopefully it won’t throw your family into a higher tax bracket. Taxes on 35K a year will be around $10,500.00. This amount will vary depending on how much a spouse might make and possible deductions.

Cost to Work Outside the Home: $10,500.00 a year

$ Clothing, Drycleaning, Other Business Expenses

I’m going to make a really conservative estimate of $50 a month for these expenses. You likely spend more. However, this amount varies so much from job to job and person to person that it is impossible to say for certain how much these costs might be. You should already know if you’ve been tracking your expenses.

Cost to Work Outside the Home: $600.00

$ Lunch

You may plan to make a nice meal every evening, but after that long commute and a stressful day at work, do you really think you will? More than likely most meals will be take out or quick convenience foods and you’ll need to buy your lunch the next day. Even at $5.00 per day, this can add up to $25.00 per week.

Cost to Work Outside the Home: $1250.00 (50 weeks)

There are likely other expenses not listed here. This is a very conservative estimate of the costs to work outside the home. So, we have:

Salary: $35,000


Taxes: $ 10,500

Child Care: $10,400

Vehicle: $3,500

Lunch: $1,250

Clothes: $600


Actual Take Home: $8,750 a year

Now, you have to ask yourself, is it worth it to work that job for $8,750 a year? Do you think you could make that much at home?

Next, we will talk about living on less. You may be able to save $8,750 a year!


Lori Soard has worked online designing websites, writing, editing and promoting clients since 1997. Through Promo Warriors, she's consulted with over 100 clients to help them figure out what online presence works best for them. In addition to helping people learn how to start their own businesses, she writes feel-good books about the way love and the world should be.