5 hidden costs of a new job

If you’ve accepted a new job, you’re probably thinking about what you you’ll do with your new paycheck. But did you realize that sometimes a new job can cost you money?

But before you mentally account for all that freshly flowing cash, make sure that you’ve factored in these five possible expenses that can come along with new employment.

1. Commuting expenses. If your old job was 10 minutes away and your new one takes an hour, you’ll be facing higher costs for gas and maintenance. Public transportation costs can add up too; if you pay $5 each way on public transportation, that’s more than $2,500 over the course of a year. Make sure that when you’re assessing a job offer, you factor in your transportation costs; they can be significant.

In fact, personal finance blogger Mr. Money Mustache – who anonymously runs a wildly popular money management website – noted for Reuters:  “The IRS allows you to deduct your business driving at about 55 cents per mile, and this is based on a realistic addition of costs … So if you have a 20-mile commute to work, multiply it out: 40 miles each workday times 50 cents a mile. And there are 2,500 of those workdays in every decade, so that ‘not too bad’ commute is burning at least $50,000 every ten years.”

2. Insurance premiums or deductibles. Before accepting any offer, make sure that you fully understand what you’ll be paying for health insurance, and what those premiums will get you. If you previously had a plan where your employer covered most or all of the monthly premium costs, you might be in for sticker shock when you see what it costs to shoulder more of those yourself. Depending on your employer’s plan and what they pay for, you could end up seeing a significant portion of your salary eaten up in insurance premiums. Moreover, you should also look at what the plan covers, what deductibles you might have, and what your copays will look like. There can be vast differences from one plan to another, and if you end up having to go out-of-pocket more often on a lower-quality plan, that can take a big bite out of your paycheck.

3. COBRA to cover any uninsured period between when your old insurance stops and your new coverage begins. Many companies won’t start your insurance coverage until you’ve worked 30 days, which means that you can find yourself with a month of lapsed coverage. You can generally keep your old coverage going through the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act health benefit provisions program (COBRA), but you’ll pay the full cost that was previously borne by your employer – which can be expensive. However, keep in mind that you can apply for COBRA retroactively, so one money-saving option is to apply only if you end up needing the coverage during that period.

4. Professional clothes. New wardrobe expectations can be an unanticipated expense for people who are either new to the work world altogether, like recent grads, or moving from a job with a casual dress code to one where suits are expected. If you’re used to spending your days in jeans and your new office requires business wear, you might find that you need to buy an entirely new wardrobe for work. Business clothes aren’t cheap – but keep in mind that you can often find well-made suits for low prices at consignment shops and second-hand stores.

5. Lunch and other extras. How you handle lunch can determine whether or not that ends up being a cost of working for you or not. If you’re eating out every day, that’s going to quickly add up: Even if you kept to a relatively frugal budget of $5 a day for lunch, you could spend more than $1,000 over the course of a year – just on lunch. There are significant savings to be had just by bringing in food from home most days. Food expenses can pop up at work in other ways, too, so watch out, for example, for added expenses from buying coffee each morning or heading out for regular happy hours with coworkers.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 146 comments… read them below }

  1. Adam V*

    The first company I worked for paid 100% of the employee’s medical insurance (adding spouses or children cost extra) and I foolishly thought that was standard practice, so I didn’t bother to ask about it when moving to the next company. Fortunately, the salary bump was enough to cover it… but it certainly made me pay more attention for my future job moves.

    1. De Minimis*

      I didn’t do the math for that either….my spouse had really good coverage at her job [not 100%, but we paid very little for both of us] and thought this job would be similar. Although I pay less than what a lot of people pay, it’s still around 4-5 times what we paid with her job.

    2. Dan*

      It’s not just about premiums. Look at out of pocket max/deductibles, everything. An employer paying 100% on an HDP vs me paying something on an HMO/PPO with excellent coverage is worth something.

      The second year I was at my last job, the out of pocket max and deductible were $250 for in network. It really gave me peace of mind to know that no matter how sick I got, it was only going to run $250.

      My ex needed to get some surgery done that year, and I was jumping up and down for joy at how little it cost.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yep…that’s been another issue. Wife’s employer had a great HMO where everything was in-house and you never had to worry about anything beyond co-pays and fairly stable prescription costs. I’ve had to pay a lot out of pocket with this current insurer, even for fairly minor procedures. Unfortunately, there are just fewer options where I live now.

  2. M. in Austin!*

    #4… Totally agree. I’m working a company with a truly casual dress code. I don’t want to go back to pants and skirts! I’d end up having two wardrobes: work clothes and “normal” clothes.
    Oh and the cost of dry cleaning! Yuck!

    1. Jamie*

      Yes, dry cleaning. I do not miss working in the non-manufacturing sector.

      We do business casual, but we all understand the realities of working in a plant and what venturing out of the front office will do to dry clean only clothes. Wash and wear and sneakers aren’t just some IT quirk, it shows you know how to dress for your environment. I would spend a fortune on shoes alone if I had to go back to a dressier office.

      1. Sascha*

        Oh, the shoes. I have arch problems and I hate wearing heels. My sister works at a law firm and whenever I pick her up from there, I feel like such a slob. I would hate to wear skirts and suits and dress shoes all the time.

      2. periwinkle*

        I just moved from the healthcare industry on the East Coast to a manufacturing environment in the Pac NW. The casual dress code here turned out to be a hidden cost because I didn’t have shoes that were both business casual and factory-safe! I normally wore flats and mary-janes… nope, they expose the top of the foot. I also didn’t have sufficiently casual clothes anyway, so yeah, a whole new PacNW-appropriate wardrobe went into the budget.

        Love my solid-color Easy Spirit walking shoes…

      3. Elizabeth West*

        We did business casual at my old job too, and I hated it because I had to handle samples covered with sawdust all the time. I got so dirty. All my office clothes were wash and wear. I wanted to wear jeans and a polo so badly (and I wasn’t the only one). No one saw us most of the time, except on the rare occasion a client would visit, or people from corporate would come after we were bought out. And we always had plenty of warning for that. I can’t wear heels anyway–my back is messed up. So it was always pants for me.

        At Newjob, we can wear jeans and I do. They have alerts if client visits are imminent so we will dress in a more formal manner. A lot of people work from home those days, LOL.

  3. Stephanie*

    #4 – Yeah, I might need an advance if my next role requires professional dress. Last two jobs were casual dress (which felt like an anomaly in the DC area).

    1. Livin' in a Box*

      Me too! I wear a uniform to my first job and pajamas to my second, so I would need a whole new wardrobe for a professional job.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      Goes the other way too. I moved from a Fortune 100 to a startup, and even my business casual clothes were not going to fit in. I usually only wear jeans to paint, and I needed a lot of geeky t-shirts to match. The cost of designer jeans and t-shirts can rival a nice pantsuit from Ann Taylor.

      A week’s worth of outfits set me back $1k. Certainly an unexpected cost!

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          Hey, the hoodie was cheaper than the education would have been had I gone there.

          But the hoodie + a football jersey + a tee with a pithy saying about the preferred school’s primary rival are all part of “required wardrobe for startups”

      1. Jamie*

        Wow! I don’t think my outfits for a month would add up to anywhere near 1K.

        I am a huge fan of consignment stores, but even so I must be even frumpier than I thought.

        1. Ezri*

          I had to update my wardrobe from college to office-environment after graduating, and I definitely didn’t think about the cost beforehand. The website Twice has been my friend in that. Then again, it was either get some new things or switch between my two identical interview outfits every other day. :)

      2. Question Mark*

        Woah! Are designer jeans an unwritten rule for working at a startup? I assumed just regular jeans and low cost shirts are ok which cost nowhere near $1k for a week of clothes. Maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong and noone has told me???

    3. the_scientist*

      Right? I had approximately one item of professional attire when I finished grad school (it was the outfit I wore to my defense presentation). I work in a casual workplace- jeans are totally okay- but my grad student uniform of plain t-shirt, jeans and birkenstocks needed an upgrade. If I get the job I’m interviewing tomorrow, it will require another upgrade since it’s government and business attire is required. Its definitely a significant expense!

    4. Anon*

      Well, my last two jobs in the DC area were also casual dress. So that’s four?

      I think one has to separate Hill/non-Hill jobs for dress codes.

      1. Elysian*

        If only. I work in a “business” dress-code office, and sometimes my husband (who works in a ‘whats a dress code?’ startup) and I will meet for lunch. He always feels so out of place in the sea of suits when he’s wearing his tshirt and cargo pants.

  4. E.R*

    Of course, the opposite can also be true! When I moved from my last job to this job, I got: a shorter commute with employer-covered transit pass, 100% employer-paid insurance (I’m in Canada so body-health is paid by taxes, but dental and prescription drugs are not) vs. paying 80$ a month, and a more casual work environment where I dont have to worry about wearing good clothes unless I’m meeting with clients.

    1. Chinook*

      Canadians – don’t forget that your monthly tranist passes are tax deductible (tax credit = 1/12 of what was spent) but it only applies to monthly and annual passes. Individual tickets don’t count. And, if your company is paying for it, check if they are deducting the cost from your paycheque or giving it as a taxable deduction. The former lets you claim the credit (proof of purchase is your T4) but I can’t remember if the later does.

    2. Astor*

      Although for anyone moving to Canada, within Canada, or just still learning: it’s not strictly true that body-health is paid by taxes. It varies from province to province and in general does cover a lot: doctor’s visits and diagnostics and etc. And if you have expensive prescriptions as compared to your income, you will reach a maximum. But it’s worth looking through your province’s plan and also through the online sites for the major insurance-providers, so you can see what is and isn’t covered.

      Also BC separates out at least some of your health-care so that instead of paying for it via your provincial taxes on your income, you get a monthly bill. It’s flat rate, unless you make less than a specified amount of money. I didn’t know to keep that money in mind when I moved here. (I was lucky enough to have a decent job, but I made *just* enough money to have to pay full price for my carecard, pay out of pocket for my physiotherapy, and not meet the maximum on prescription fees until later in the year. My physiotherapist discounted his fees while I was at my first low-paying job so that I could see him regularly, but in my previous province there was an option to have it covered by going to a public facility.)

      I’m definitely thankful for my covered healthcare, but I just want to make sure people investigate how it will affect them.

  5. danr*

    #1.. Commuting costs. If you have the option to drive or take public transit, recalculate the costs of each every couple of years. I had a long commute that I did by car when I started working the old job, and only used public transit during very bad weather. In the beginning, using the car was cheaper. By the end of my job, I had switched to public transit almost full time. Gasoline and tolls had gone up so much that it cost $5 a day *less* to commute by public transit.

    1. Laura*

      Only works if it’s purely cost-based, of course. Because of the relative locations of where I live and work, my best-case scenario with public transit would increase my commute time by about 2.5 hours a day. Ouch!

      But yes, if it’s primarily cost-based, do re-evaluate periodically. And for schedules it can be worth it, depending on what the issue is; in the case of my commute, though, not even an ideal short connection could save it.

      1. tt*

        Street parking is rare around my urban campus, and on-campus parking costs about $1200 a year. and you’re not actually guaranteed a spot, so you could be driving around for ages before you find anything, if you don’t get there at the crack of dawn!

      2. danr*

        Well, at the end of the job, the time was about equal when traffic jams and accident caused delays were figured in. Plus, if the trains were delayed all I had to do was call home that I’d be late and then sit back and continue reading. I didn’t have to worry about a driver getting distracted in the jam and deciding to move before a car next to him (most drivers were male) moved and crunching a fender.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      That only works if you have good public transit. We don’t have it here–there are buses only, and they’re slower than molasses in January. I would love not to have to drive to work and fight all the trucks and the idiots on the highway.

  6. Kate M*

    Great tips. One thing to consider about the cost of lunch though – although it might cost you $1000+ a year if you bought lunch every day, if you bring your lunch, you won’t save $1000+. You have to factor in the cost of making your lunch, so you might only save $500 or so (if you can make your lunch for half the cost of buying it). I know some people can make food to bring for pennies on the dollar, but I tend to make somewhat more complex foods to bring when I bring lunch (I just can’t stomach a sandwich every day), so it still might cost me $2-2.50 to make a lunch. Just something to consider.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      True, although I usually bring leftovers from dinner the night before. So my cost per meal is the number of “servings” I get out of a casserole or package of pork chops. If I buy lunch and leave the leftovers in the fridge, then that’s wasted money on both sides: the cost of lunch, plus the cost of the portion of what I didn’t bring, if it goes uneaten.

      1. Dan*

        I cook at home a lot, and I don’t really have leftovers — I’m careful with my portion sizes, so “leftovers” is actually tomorrow night’s dinner. I also have my limits as to how much of the same thing I can eat, so no, I’m not going to have the same thing for lunch on Tuesday as I had for dinner Monday night and will have for Tuesday night.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          From your answer, I’ll assume that you’re single (sorry if that’s incorrect). It is a completely different story when it’s just you. I wouldn’t cook large meals if I lived alone, for the reason you said…having the same thing for lunch and dinner 3 or 4 days in a row would get pretty old.

          I’ve got myself, my husband, 2 kids, and mother-in-law to feed, so a casserole feeds all 5 of us with a serving or 2 left over for lunches for me. Or if I’m planning to make pork chops, I’ll buy enough to have one extra for lunch the next day. And so on. But then sometimes my husband, who’s a big dude with a big appetite, will eat 2 huge helpings if he didn’t have lunch that day, which then throws me all out of whack.

          1. Stephanie*

            I wouldn’t cook large meals if I lived alone, for the reason you said…having the same thing for lunch and dinner 3 or 4 days in a row would get pretty old.

            Soups. Soups are the worst for this. I’ve made soup, gotten sick of it (after eating it several meals in a row), and just tossed because I shudder at the thought of reheating frozen leftovers from it.

              1. Stephanie*

                They do. It’s just psychological at that point–I don’t freeze it quickly enough, get weary of it, and don’t want to save the last serving or two.

                1. periwinkle*

                  I get around that by making the soup ahead of time, cooling it, and portioning it out for the freezer right away. Rarely will I eat it that day! This is great when you either live alone or like freezer-friendly foods that no one else in the household will eat (like my Red Bowl of Death hot & sour soup). I’ve done the “eat it until you’re bored and freeze the rest”, but yeah, you’re sick of the sight of it by then and down the garbage disposal it goes.

                2. Anx*

                  If you decide to try freezing them, I suggest what periwinkle does. I let mine cool a bit on the stove, then move it to the fridge. Then I Skim the fat and portion it off. If I freeze it fast I will likely put the grain in as the recipe calls for.

              2. Jamie*

                They do – I always make huge batches and freeze them in individual serving sized containers and it’s worked so well for my family.

                But there are 5 of us and it’s hard to make enough that it’s not gone by the time I remember it’s there and want some. I don’t know how long soup is good frozen, mine never lasts long enough to find out. If you have to eat it within a short period of time I can see how it wouldn’t be worth it for someone cooking for 1.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, no, I must defend soup! Most soups freeze and reheat brilliantly–the key is to do that from the get-go rather than looking blearily at the last four cups of what you’ve been eating for days and realizing you never want to see it again. It’s not leftovers, it’s a special tasty handmade meal cooked with work eating in mind. I usually have four or five different soups and a stew/chili or two to choose from for lunch.

              Not that you have to do that, but I couldn’t let my beloved soup take a hit.

              1. Jamie*

                I love your passionate defense as it is also one of my most beloved foods. Although it’s so many different foods it’s more like a food medium. :)

                But at least once a month I do a Weekend O’ Soup and I make several different kinds in large batches and stock the freezers so it’s not leftovers – it’s making your own prepared meal ahead of time.

                I do the same with meals when I’m heading into a busy time. Like I’m about to enter into crazy work hours so spent yesterday making and freezing soups, chicken tetrazini (the base of which is my homemade mushroom soup with parm added), spaghetti sauce, roladen, goulash, lasagne, beef stew…just a bunch of dinners my husband can just thaw and all he has to do is add the pasta or steam some veggies or whatever. The burden of cooking isn’t all falling on him and he’s got convenience foods which are cheaper, tastier, and sometimes healthier.

                And once you get organized it’s not nearly as time consuming as making them all separately each night. A lot of the same ingredients go into similar recipes so you’re consolidating your mise en place.

                The hardest part is remembering to label stuff correctly – but all you need is one mishap where you think you defrosted spaghetti sauce but it’s actually chili which you hate anyway but it’s the spicy batch to teach you that lesson. Damn chili masquerading as food.

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  I love doing freezer cooking. A few months ago, I spent an entire Saturday doing a cooking marathon. I was at the store buying groceries at 6:30 AM, and I finished the last of the clean-up at about 10 PM that same day. By the time I was done, I had 20 meals in the freezer.

                  Exhausting, and my back and feet were killing me, but it was so worth it. Of course, I swore I would start making 1 or 2 things at a time to keep the freezer stocked, and of course, I haven’t. So sometime in the next few months I’ll be doing it again.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              There’s some soup I made last year that I could eat for days….I think it was Bear Creek Minestrone in the pouch. OMG that was SO GOOD. I could eat split pea soup every day, too. I love it. But chicken noodle? Nah.

          2. Dan*

            Yeah, I am single. The food economics are hard to wrestle with. My current job has an on-site cafeteria, and I can get a real meal for under $7. For me, the variety is worth whatever cost savings I’d have cooking lunch at home.

            For the other single people reading this thread, I picked up a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen called “cooking for two” which looks at ways to cook smaller portions without wasting a lot of ingredients.

            1. fposte*

              Right, that’s how I feel about the Graze snacks, so I can certainly understand that as an individual tradeoff, and the freezer plan requires more freezer than some people have.

              I quite like to cook, though, and the lunch food around my office is pretty mediocre, so I might as well have food I like better for cheaper.

            2. some1*

              I have the same problem cooking just for myself. I rarely buy fresh produce because it will go bad before I can eat it all.

              1. a*

                I had to adjust my shopping patterns. It’s a lot easier to eat it if it’s one cucumber, etc. I didn’t have a car for a long time, so it was easy to pick up just what I needed.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              I have a bunch of those cooking for two things, but they’re from the 1950s and 1960s (I have a thing for old cookbooks, though I rarely cook!). Some of the recipes are hilarious.

              1. Clerica*

                I remember when I was about 11 I pulled out my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook from the sixties because I needed to know how long to boil an egg (this was before you could Google stuff like that). The egg section opened with “The man you marry will know how he likes his eggs, and chances are he’ll be fussy about them.”

                I thought, the stupid dipshit can’t even cook eggs and I’m supposed to care what he thinks?

            4. Hillary*

              I really like Eat Your Vegetables by Joe Yonan. The recipes are written as mains for one or sides for two, but a lot of them are two servings for me.

          3. Jamie*

            I wouldn’t cook large meals if I lived alone

            I honestly believe if I lived alone my diet would be entirely salads from a bag, Pop-Tarts, and the occasional Cheetos/Pringles to balance it out.

            Oh, and when available the trifecta of Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Frankenberry cereals.

            Clearly I missed my calling in life as a nutritionist. Having a family has been the only thing that’s forced me to eat like a grownup – I have the natural pallet of a badly raised toddler.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              Ha ha!! Me too! I never really cooked before I met my husband. After we got married, I realized he probably didn’t want to eat a Hot Pocket every night for the rest of his life, so I thought I’d give cooking a try. Luckily, I really enjoy it, and I’m pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.

              My husband is almost as bad as I am, although we’ve both really improved since having kids, and, more importantly, he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes last year. He was quite matter-of-fact about it: “I’ve spent the last 25 years eating like a teenager, and now it’s time to face the music.” But he’s done such a great job almost completely eliminating the junk food and sweets. I’ve never met anyone with so much willpower. Gone are the days when I’d ask him if he wanted me to grab anything for him at the grocery store, and he’d just say, “Some blue,” meaning he was really craving something sweet and a thought a tube of blue icing sounded really good.

          4. Elizabeth West*

            The problem with that is that many recipes are set up for at least four people. So you either have to cut them in half, or make something else. I don’t cook much for myself any more. If it takes longer to make it than to eat it, forget it.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      My time isn’t worth the money I save while focusing on the cheap lunch route. I think if you were one of those people who can execute what you see on Pinterest flawlessly, this may work for you. But me, the cheap sandwich route ends up taking enough time that I no longer wish to save money.
      What really kills me is that I lift weights for my exercise, and I eat an unholy amount of protein every 2.5-3 hours. Packing not 1, but 3 lunches for a workday takes it’s toll on my resources. I don’t consume processed foods, so protein shakes and bars aren’t an option. Hello, mega pack of chicken breasts from Costco! Meet my broiler every Sunday evening!

    3. Artemesia*

      My husband always bought lunch — it was just one of the things that made him feel like a successful grownup, but I was much too cheap to do that. And I hate sandwiches, so I just organized meals when I cooked to have leftovers; today I am eating leftover shepherd’s pie heated in the microwave for lunch — which I love and making a slightly larger casserole to have leftovers for a couple of lunches doesn’t feel like it is impacting the food budget.

      I figure I saved about 65K over the course of my worklife by not buying lunch using 5$ a meal as the estimate although late in my career, it was hard to eat out for less than 10$. That alone financed about 5 of our annual European trips.

    4. Just Visiting*

      I don’t mind eating the same exact thing every day. Normally, it’s frozen burritos (five servings per container, four bucks a container, hello savings!). If I’m feeling fancy, there are dollar frozen meals I can get. I only had one workplace where people thought I was a weirdo for this. My last job was in a very expensive downtown area, and you really couldn’t get away with paying less than $6-7 per meal. If I ever got bored with my meals, the thought of saving $25+ a week perked me up right quick.

    5. danr*

      Salads… I brought a basic salad with variations to work for years. Lettuces and tomato, with some seasoning and something leftover from the week’s meals. It is just two of us , so it was easy to make another portion or two. The dressing was sweet balsamic vinegar. The best was that it didn’t need refrigeration until lunchtime, as long as it started out cold and in an insulated bag. It was equivalent to a 9 — 13 dollar salad in NYC. I got a chance to price it out during some offsite training. Dessert was some fruit in season and I drank homemade iced tea.

    6. neverjaunty*

      Not to mention the cost of making your lunch is not just ingredients, but electricity, dishwashing, and as Grumpyaboss pointed out, time.

      Not to knock bringing lunches by any means, especially if you work somewhere that inexpensive lunches are not an option, but it’s way more complicated than “save money by packing a lunch!”

  7. stebuu*

    There are worse problems to have, but here in the States, if you make above the Social Security deduction cap and switch jobs, you’ll be overpaying that annoying FICA person via your paycheck and will have to wait until you file your taxes to get that money back.

    1. danr*

      Even if you don’t make more than the cap, you can overpay social security for your wage level. While it was a pain to wait for the money, it did make for a nice, unexpected refund.

  8. voluptuousfire*

    Another thing to consider: taxes you would pay if you’re working in a different state. That could easily take a very large chunk out of your paycheck.

    1. Chinook*

      Also, if you m ove states or provinces, keep in mind that you may end up with a huge tax bill at the end of the year (or, potentially a windfall) Payroll taxes are deducted based on where you work at the time of the pay cheque but you pay taxes based on where you live Dec. 31st. (Spoken from experience – moving to Quebec from anywhere = huge tax bill; moving to Alberta from Quebec = windfall)

    2. Artemesia*

      This is a big deal. WE moved at retirement from a low tax state to a high tax state; the lifestyle is worth it to us, but our cost of living is about twice what it would have been if we had stayed in big southern city (that we couldn’t wait to leave.) I have loved every day we have lived here — but it costs a lot.

    3. Red*

      Likewise, if you keep your residency in a state with a universal taxation scheme but work in a state with an income tax on earnings made in that state, then you’ll be paying two state income taxes and need to ensure that you file correctly in each state come tax return season to ensure you receive your maximum return. Plus, don’t forget to file your relevant withholding forms and clear up your residency status before you start receiving paychecks… And this gets more complex if you are a citizen of a different nation from the one in which you are employed.

    4. danr*

      Yep, but most states have a reciprocal state tax agreement. NY doesn’t. Surrounding states give an allowance for taxes paid to NY, but it never evens out.

  9. SevenSixOne*

    And even if you are perfectly content eating your 15-cent PB&J every day, you could become the resident wet blanket (and miss out on networking/gossip) if the workplace culture is that everyone usually goes out to lunch together on Mondays or chips in $5 for delivery on Saturdays or whatever.

    1. Pawnee Goddess*

      That’s very true. I bring my lunch to work most days, while the rest of my team goes out to lunch every single day. I DO miss out on hearing gossip (which is fine with me), but then I also miss out on hearing about updates with the company, networking, etc.

      1. Artemesia*

        If I were you I would plan to join your colleagues for lunch at least once a week so you don’t become isolated from the news flow.

      2. Clerica*

        Where do they go? A lot of places you could get away with going and not ordering anything. On the rare days when we can leave work for lunch, my coworkers usually go to Moe’s, and I scarf my food a little early and just go sit with them, bring a drink and talk. Moe’s probably wouldn’t care if I brought my container of food, even.

  10. Jake*

    My buddy just accepted a promotion that makes him move 900 miles. With a25% raise it will still take well over 2 years to just break even due to:

    Breaking his lease
    moving expenses
    Cost of living increase
    Increased commuter costs

    That doesn’t include that he is going from salaried 40 to 42 hours a week to a job that will be 48 to 50 hours a week.

    It is still worth it to him, but when I did the math for him while out to eat it was obvious he didn’t factor in any of this except moving costs and breaking his lease.

    That all being said, a 25% raise is worth allof that because of the compounding effect it will have on future raises.

    1. Dan*

      You missed taxes. Assuming he’s making enough money to put him in the 25% tax bracket, between federal tax, state tax, and social security, he’s only going to take home 2/3 of that 25% raise.

      1. Jake*

        He tried, however they already went outside of standard protocol giving him more than 15%, but the 25% was required to get him to the bottom of the new pay bracket.

        As such they didn’t give him the normal moving expenses, and he won’t get his annual raise this year that is typically 5% for top performers without a promotion.

        1. Dan*

          Geeze. With a company that buried in red tape, why did he decide it was really worth it? You already take it in the shorts moving from a low COL area to a high one. He shouldn’t be punished because “market” was lower where he came from.

  11. anon in tejas*

    parking was a major unanticipated cost when I changed employers. I knew that my old employer covered my parking expense, and I knew that I would need to pay. I did not anticipate that the two closest and cheapest lots to my new office would close within 6 months of my start date! I am now paying about twice as much as before. Job switch was worth it on so many levels, and I have gotten a few raises, but just something to consider.

    1. De Minimis*

      When I worked in a major city that was a shock to me too…I was used to Podunk towns where every workplace had a huge parking lot right next to the building. In the end I didn’t really pay all that much for parking, but it was still a lot to get used to.

    2. Pawnee Goddess*

      At my first job post-college, I had to pay $100/month for parking and boy – was that a shock for me. I wasn’t making that much money either ($30K annually), so it took a big bite out of my paycheck. The company had a lot of younger people working there at the time, so I went to our company president and asked if they could figure out a way to a.) pay for all the employees to park or b.)at least take care of some of the costs. The company president’s hands were tied, since they didn’t own the lot we used so they were at the mercy of the parking company.

      I ended up parking several blocks away in a really sketchy part of town for about $30/month. There were several times I (almost) got assaulted/robbed, etc.

      Lesson learned: ALWAYS ask about parking before taking any job.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I came here to comment on parking fees. For the past 10 years, I’ve paid between $400-$900 annually for parking. It’s hard to anticipate the costs, since availability and fees can fluctuate wildly from year-to-year. Sometimes it feels like a game of music chairs – everyone is trying to find the cheapest spot closest to their building.

  12. Sascha*

    When my husband started his current job, he did a 3 month probationary period – typical, except the HR firm the company was using at the time (didn’t have their own department) had him fill out a 1099 along with W-4, so that for the probationary period, he was considered a contract worker. So taxes weren’t taken out for his first three months. That caused a big headache later because he just didn’t realize what had happened…you just go in for your first day and fill out a bunch of forms. So check all your forms!!!

    1. Dan*

      I’ve been reading this blog for years, so I hate to ask this, but: Is that legal? There’s a lot of guidelines that have to be met to classify a worker as an independent contractor, and if nothing meaningful in your husband’s life changed the day he became a full time employee, odds are the contractor status was misclassified.

      1. BRR*

        I swear the number of people who get misclassified due to employer’s wishes is huge. They neglect that exempt vs non-exempt and independent contractor status have rules with the status.

        1. Sascha*

          His company dropped that HR firm a year or so after he was hired. At the time it didn’t really seem legal to me, but we had to decide between paying for legal recourse vs just paying off the late taxes. It was cheaper to pay the taxes.

        2. Dan*

          I actually had a 1099 job that I’m fairly certain was mis classified. I was reading your blog at the time, too. We separated on less than amicable terms, and I thought long and hard about dropping a dime and seeing if I could get my tax money back.

          But like you say, just because you have a case, doesn’t mean it’s always wise to pursue it. For $2k or so, I figured it was just better to let it go, and put them in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible. I wanted to answer as few questions about that place as possible during future interviews/background checks, so staying off the radar was important.

      2. Stephanie*

        Oh, I saw a job posting (that I applied for…) that would hire you as an independent contractor on a trial basis and then convert you to a W-2 employee if you “passed” the probationary period.

    2. Noah*

      I worked somewhere once that treated everyone as a contractor (1099) during initial training and you were not hired and moved to employee (W-2) status until you completed training. Lots of people had tax issues because of that.

  13. LeighTX*

    My husband just turned down a job that would have been a higher salary but a much longer commute with tolls, plus we would have had to start paying someone to pick our kids up from school (he gets them now). After looking at all the costs and benefits, the new job was almost exactly equal to what he’s currently making, and would have offered less schedule flexibility and fewer vacation days.

      1. Jamie*

        So many people agree with this sentiment that I think I’m the only person in the world who was happier when I got a longer commute.

        I had a job when I was first starting out which was 8 minutes driveway to parking lot. I haaaated how short it was. I need more time to transition from home me to work me and then back – mentally. Mostly work me to home me. When my commute was that short the stress of the day was still on me like a cloak when I walked in the door.

        The only real downtime I get is in the car to and from work and I need that. I can get annoyed with traffic or gridlock, but my commute is between 1-2 hours each way and the only time it really bothers me is when the weather is bad. (Because in Chicago as soon as one drop of rain or snow hits pavement everyone but me and maybe 5 other people completely forget how to drive.)

        I know so many people who would take a pay cut for a shorter commute it makes me wonder about myself why this is such a non-issue.

        1. Sascha*

          For me, it’s because I don’t like driving and being in the car. I want my commute as short as possible. I get really ragey and irrationally upset about minor driving annoyances. But my husband is fine with a longer commute because he likes driving, especially when he takes his motorcycle. But he works the night shift and drives to work at 10pm, when there is much less traffic.

        2. Elysian*

          I agree with you – I have a short commute and sometimes I wish for more air between me and work. Though it is nice being able to run home on a break if I forgot something, need to attend to a house or pet thing, etc. I think the optimal commute is more like 20 minutes – long enough, not too short.

        3. TheExchequer*

          I’m also like this. I have my music, so the traffic doesn’t bother me (unless someone has left their brain at home, but their body is still behind the wheel. This happens even more often than you would think in the Bay Area, California).

          1. Adonday Veeah*

            Ah, thanks for the reminder! I used to live and work in the Bay Area, and moved to a relatively rural part of the Central Coast a few years ago. When I get nostalgic, I just remember the traffic, and… all better, thanks!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Ah, the Central Coast. I used to live there, in Santa Cruz. The buses were great–there were millions of them and they got me everywhere I needed to go. The buses here are hilariously few and far between. I haven’t even tried to ride them, so when I was job hunting, I tried to find something close, until my parents helped me get a better car.

              I miss Santa Cruz, but not because of the buses. :(

          2. De Minimis*

            In my case the commute is long both in time and mileage. Traffic is not really an issue, it’s just a long way to drive. I do enjoy listening to music or podcasts while in the car, but I hate when you are getting done with a day of work and know that you have a 60 mile drive ahead of you. Of course, some of that is my fault for choosing to live where I do, but even before I moved there, I still drove about 45 minutes each way.

            I’ve never actually had a really long commute as far as traffic. I’ve lived in bigger cities before but was always able to arrange things to where I spent a minimum of time dealing with traffic congestion [sometimes I’d take city streets to avoid it.]

            1. danr*

              That was about my commute… but I used to tease my coworkers, that after an hour and a half of driving I was home in the country, but after an hour and a half on the subways and buses, they were still in the city. [grin].

              1. Anonna Miss*

                Oh my. I’ve been a city dweller my entire adult life. If I heard that, I’d just think that I have a 10 minute walk home, and I’m still surrounded by a hundred things to do, while you’re spending 3 hours a day sitting in the car. Different strokes, I guess.

        4. NavyLT*

          For me, if I have any residual work stress, it gets exacerbated by dealing with bad drivers/traffic, both of which are pretty common here in the Hampton Roads area. My drive now is a bit under 15 minutes, which is fine. I wouldn’t mind a longer drive on relatively empty highways, though.

        5. Mints*

          I think my ideal commute is actually like 20 minutes. Ideally ideally it would be a twenty minute walk, but more realistically like 15 miles driving.
          I think this also depends a lot on whether you have a flexible schedule or not. If you need to wait for the plumber or get caught in traffic, can you just show up an hour late and stay later, or do you get talked to about schedule?
          I also prefer a drive that’s less miles, even if the traffic is occasionally bad, over somewhere that is far away, even if the traffic is normally good.

          All of my preferences for naught, since I’m still working through a commute from hell (drive, mass transit, then walk, for a total of nearly two hours)

          1. Elysian*

            I agree with your about the 20 minutes, and I love my walk at the moment – except when its pouring rain and I basically need to bring a second set of clothes to the office if I ever want to be dry during the day. I really miss driving on those days.

            1. Mints*

              Ha, I’m pretty sure I would spend literal hundreds of dollars buying floor length jackets and rain coats. (But I’d save on gas!)

        6. Zach*

          I would have stopped at a Forest Preserve or park every day to read in that case. I live in Chicago, too, and the only commuting I *enjoyed* was when I rode my bike to work.

        7. Elsajeni*

          The only time I enjoyed a long commute and didn’t spend the whole time wishing I was home already was in grad school, when I was commuting by train. Forty minutes to read, do homework, or just stare into space, no need to pay attention to anything beyond keeping half an ear open for my stop — now that was nice.

        8. LeighTX*

          My own commute is about 2-1/2 hours a day. It’s not the time that bothers me so much, but the expense–between gas and tolls, the cost to commute is around $350 a month.

      2. doreen*

        It really depends. My employer has a practice of transferring people based on seniority (even when it’s not required by a union contract) which means the open position is usually in an office that is undesirable for one reason or another. I now work 15 minutes from my house- but in order to get the promotion to begin with , I had to accept a position that required an hour- and- a -half hour commute with a toll. After a year or so, I was able to transfer to someplace closer with no toll, and after about five more years to where I am now. The same thing happened with the two previous promotions- if I hadn’t been willing to take the longer commutes and “work my way back” , I’d still be in my original position.

      3. neverjaunty*

        YMMV. I live in one of the most expensive places in the country. You want to live in one of the urban centers where the jobs are? You better be rich, because actually living there is eye-bleeding expensive, and forget it if you have children. Everybody who isn’t rich lives farther out and commutes.

    1. Dan*

      The more I think about it, the more I don’t think that short-term child care costs (even those that will last a few years) should have a huge impact on somebody’s work choices.

      Take the classic SAHM who quit her job because child care is so expensive. The issue becomes: What happens when the kids are in school and mom wants to get back into the work force? It might take awhile to even find a job, and she may not even find it at the wage she was hoping for. So if mom was making $2400/mo but spending $2500/mo in child care costs (in effect costing the family $100/mo during the time kids were in day care) I’d think long and hard before quitting to “save money.” It’s going to cost a lot more in the long run, if mom intends on going back into the work force.

      More to your post, I’d put up with a little pain for a promotion, but the kids issue was just one more thing on top of a list of others that were nonstarters.

      1. fposte*

        You also have to factor in the long-term effects of the different salaries and the difference in retirement contributions, too. (In keeping with the “hidden costs” theme of this post.)

      2. the gold digger*

        I don’t have children, but I was out of the workforce for six years. I took a huge hit in salary – more than 50% – just to get back in. In retrospect, I should have pursued some of those jobs paying at 70% of my old salary after I was laid off rather than holding out for the same pay. (I ended up meeting my husband and getting married and not working for a few years.) I would have been so much better at six years at 70% plus raises than six years at zero to return to 50%.

      3. Anx*

        Perhaps if you’re making a high enough income it makes little financial sense.

        For many people, though, it takes one call from the childcare center to pick up your child and you may lose your job.

        I think there’s also something to be said for the drive to provide for a child early in life. If you can save money by staying at home, that could mean more attention, safer housing, healthier food, access to doctors.

      4. LeighTX*

        In our case, the additional child care costs were just one item in a list of pros and cons, but I absolutely get your point. I was out of the work force for several years when my children were small, and after I went back to work it took me a very long time to get my salary up to the same level as others my age who had been working all that time. For me and for most of the SAHMs I know, the issue is less about the cost of child care and more about being home with your children, but it is definitely best to go into it clear-eyed about the economic sacrifices you’re making–not just for those years, but for many years to come.

    1. Dan*

      Yup, my employer matches 10% of my salary. I’m not looking forward to the time where I decide to leave the company, and find a place that demands salary history. If I have to give it, it’s going to me a number that INCLUDES the match, with a note indicating such (i.e., “$75k/yr including 10% 401k match). We’re not negotiating against my $68k alone.

  14. The Wall of Creativity*

    Don’t forget the loss of a year or two’s annual bonus. For my next job I might just negotiate a higher salary and no bonus. Bonus is only a retention tool.

  15. Dan*

    On commuting costs, one thing to note is that the IRS number is an average figure. Adjust downward for smaller cars and upwards for larger cars.

    I’ve tried (albeit not that hard) to get better numbers for my car to run my own commuting costs, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do.

  16. TheExchequer*

    The one that always gets me is fronting the cost of commuting, wardrobe, lunches, etc (not to mention the rest of the normal bills) for at least the first two weeks.

  17. Bend & Snap*

    #4 is a killer. I went from a schlubby jeans environment to professional dress and while it’s kind of fun to look really nice at work, the costs have been brutal. Buying and curating a professional wardrobe feels like a second job.

    Shopping, tailoring, dry cleaning, accessory procurement (jewelry etc), is all reeeeeeaaaally expensive. I end up buying one killer bag and a couple of pairs of designer shoes per season to build a long-term wardrobe, and find that I wear everything I have and take better care of it because I spend more, but yikes. It’s a lot of dough.

  18. Not an IT Guy*

    You also have to consider if your employer expects you to absorb the costs of any business related expenses (ex: if they don’t want to order necessary supplies for you and you need to buy them to keep your office running). But I’m sure this isn’t the norm.

    1. Sascha*

      Depends on the industry. I work for a public university and they are CHEAP. You really have to justify job-related purchases. That’s been my experience at both universities and state-run institutions.

  19. Allison*

    I definitely spend more on gas now that I’m commuting almost every day, versus working from home most days in my old job, but that’s about it. Luckily, my new job pays a good deal more than my old one, so that helps!

    The biggest expense I anticipated when getting this job was renting a parking space, but then I found I could work my schedule so that wouldn’t be necessary most of the year. I may get one for November through March, in case this winter is as riddled with snow emergencies as last winter.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      He wasn’t saying that they’re tax-deductible; he was just making a point about how much they add up. (He mentioned the IRS mileage rate as a way of estimating what your costs actually are.)

  20. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    #4 can go the other way too! Hubby has just taken a new job, moving from a corporate office to a tech office, and has had to go out and buy a bunch of jeans/teeshirts/hoodies… he currently has suits for work, and trackpants/too-casual-for-a-casual-office home clothes :P

  21. Basiorana*

    Oh, man, wardrobe… I went from 3 years wearing polo shirts and green aprons daily in food service to a professional job. My mom bought me an interview suit and two shells (one for the first interview, one for the second) and then when I got the job she bought me two more tops. My office allows jeans but I wear holes in them so fast that I have to do slacks, and because even with her help I could only afford a grand total of 5 tops and 3 bottoms I wore through several in the first six months. Now I’m in desperate need of more clothes but have no funds, thrift shops don’t carry decent quality clothes in plus sizes… I estimate it would be about three weeks’ income to buy myself a decent amount of clothing.

    If I’m ever able, and hiring someone new to the office world, I wish I could offer a $400 hire bonus to allow for a new wardrobe after the first month or so…

    1. Jean*

      It takes time, energy, and persistence…but would you consider learning to sew (or reviving the skill, if you’ve let it lapse)? I should add that I _think_ about doing this all the time but so far have not progressed to _action_!

      1. another IT manager*

        I ended up learning to sew to make my work clothes because I couldn’t find anything that met my specs (human-sized pockets, not painted on, natural fibers, comfortable) at anything like a reasonable price. It took three years and a ridiculous amount of effort, not to mention equipment, storage space, and a willingness to keep trying when I f’ed up before I had ONE pair of pants, let alone enough to wear only me-made.

        tl;dr: Sewing your clothes is fun *if you like sewing*. If you just want clothes that fit, you may need to try something else. I don’t know what the something else is.

        1. Mephyle*

          Like Dorothy Parker about writing, I hate sewing, but love having sewed. The process is no fun, but the result (when it works) is worth it.

  22. matcha123*

    I’m late to this discussion, but after the contract to my first full-time job was up and I was searching for another, a friend gave me some “advice” to toss all of my clothes except some basics because, “You can buy more later.”

    I’m so glad I didn’t listen to her because my next job required clothing that was totally casual/clothes I didn’t mind getting dirty. A bunch of clothes that I was thinking about tossing suddenly became very necessary. The job after that had a more laid-back, “start-up” atmosphere and my nicer casual clothes were suddenly the go-to set. And my current job which requires somewhat more formal clothing has me pulling from a different set of clothes. That variety saved me so much cash.

  23. Beth Anne*

    I totally agree on #5. All the jobs I’ve had I was the low-man on the totem pole making pennies and I’d go out for lunch when invited but if I wasn’t I always had something to eat that I brought from home to save money on eating out ($5-$10 a day ads up)

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