Most of us work to make money so we can afford our basic needs and some of our needs. We’re doing the job we do for that paycheck.

However, your job has a cost:

  • Childcare.
  • Transport.
  • Wardrobe.
  • Eat.
  • Travel.
  • Reduce stress.

All of these are expenses that we encounter simply by working a job for money. These expenses devour how much of our wages we can actually keep.

If your job has very high labor costs, it may be worth considering another job that pays less but has much lower labor costs. Even if the labor costs of your job are reasonable, there are ways to cut those costs and keep more of your paycheck.

The cost (or expense) of the work

Childcare costs

If you have kids, you already know parenting is a huge financial responsibility, and childcare is a big part of it. Your job likely requires you to look after your child while they are at work. Public schools can fill some of this void for older children, but for parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, the cost of childcare can be immense. For some, these costs alone are enough to keep a parent out of the workforce for a few years.

How to reduce childcare costs:

  • Consider doing a childcare exchange with a friend one or two days a week. On a day off, watch your children, and on a day off, watch your children. This will reduce the number of days you have to pay for child care.
  • Seek help from a grandparent or relative. You may be willing to watch the child for a very reasonable fee or even free of charge at times.
  • Discuss different schedules with your employer. Can you switch to a schedule that increases the amount of time at least one parent is home, thus reducing the need for childcare?

Transportation costs

If your commute requires a car, your labor costs will include depreciation on your car, some insurance costs, fuel costs, some maintenance costs for your car, and some registration costs. For many families, the reason for owning a second (or third) car is simply to get to work.

How to reduce transport costs:

  • Use local transport. Take the bus, train, or subway to work.
  • Car pool. Find co-workers or others who work near your place of work who happen to live near you and take turns driving to work. This can drastically reduce commuting costs.
  • Use a bike or go for a walk. If you live near work, you can get there by bike or even on foot instead of using a car. (It’s also good practice.)
  • Ask your employer about remote working opportunities. Yes, many people around the world did this during COVID and either loved it or hated it. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, however. Consider working remotely two or three days a week.

Cloakroom costs

Many workplaces have a dress code, so part of the labor cost is investing in clothing that conforms to that dress code. For example, if you work in a restaurant, you may need to invest in white shirts. If you work in an office, you may need suits.

How to reduce the cost of the cloakroom:

  • Remote working. The dress code at home or in a café is often much more relaxed than in the office.
  • Buy clothes that fit well. That way, you can buy fewer pieces of clothing as mixing and matching allows you to create the appearance of more outfits.
  • Buy sturdy, well-made clothing. Know how to identify well-made clothes. For example, well-made clothes have very neat seams.

Food costs

For most jobs, the working hours overlap with at least one meal. If your workplace has a shared dining culture, it can actually result in significant costs. There’s also an ongoing issue when you stop for a snack on your way to work or on your way home from work.

How to reduce food costs:

  • Take leftovers or your own brown bag lunch to work and encourage others to do so. Try to start a culture of eating together at or near your work place rather than going out.
  • Use your company’s food in the kitchen. Also bring your own items to mix things up.
  • Have snacks in your car or in your work bag. Keep some granola bars or other items in your car or in your work bag. This can keep hunger pangs at bay so you are not tempted to stop for something much more expensive during your commute.
  • Remote working. It makes the food pretty cheap when you can only eat at home.

Traveling expenses

Some jobs require travel. While jobs tend to reimburse some travel expenses, there are usually additional costs incurred for things that you didn’t plan on. This can gobble up your finances.

How to reduce travel costs:

  • Know the reimbursement rules. Know exactly what you can and cannot be reimbursed and carefully adhere to your reimbursement limits.
  • Be selective when traveling. Look for alternatives to travel for less important trips. Can these meetings be held virtually?
  • Use a good travel packaging checklist to make sure you aren’t overlooking the things you will need. Here’s a great travel wrap checklist to get you started.

reduce stress

Many jobs are stressful and this stress invades your daily life. People leave work mentally and / or physically exhausted and need something to help them relax and unwind. These stress relief activities are often expensive. You don’t have to be.

How to Lower Stress Relief Costs:

  • Try different approaches to stress relief that don’t require you to spend money. For example, try taking a walk after work or a meditation session.
  • Watch your health. Get a good sleep every night. Eat healthy and put more fruits and vegetables on your plate. Move. Even low intensity things like walking are great. These movements will help you cope better with stress.
  • Think about which specific elements of your job are causing the most stress and try to address them head-on. Discuss these items with your manager and see if you can work together to fix the problem permanently.

We appreciate your feedback on this article. Contact us at [email protected] with comments or questions.


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