Expences of working

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Expences of working
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 7:44am
What are your expences for working?

Mine have always been very low.

I don't have daycare expences, now they are past that age but when they were younger I worked while they were in school so I have never had daycare expences with work.

My work attire is jeans/shorts and t-shirts so aside from my job being rough on clothes and having to replace them more often no added expence there.

I take my lunch to work so no added expence there.

I only work about 3 miles from home so gas is not much of an issue, plus on the way home I pick my DD3 up from school so if I were not working then I would have to make that trip anyway so that cancels out some of the gas that I do use.

I don't buy anymore convience foods then I would if I were not working.

I guess someone may have $20-$30,000 of work expences that are talked about in those cost comparisons but I don't see it happening for the average person. One exception may be paying daycare for multiple kids and in a high cost area.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 8:08am
This is one of those things that just can't be applied to everyone, and it irritates me when people try to make it into a blanket statement.

Personally, I have before-and-after school care costs, because my kids are in school all day. I wear casual clothes to work, which I would wear whether I worked or not. My commute is very short and, generally, I either come home for lunch or pack something to take with me. I hate fast food, so that isn't going to be much of a cost either way. I love to cook and make lots of stuff from scratch, which apparently surprises people.

Looking back, there was a time when both kids were in daycare, I was working PT and going to school PT, and DH was carrying a larger percentage of the financial burden. To an outsider, that probably looked like a bad idea, since I was really just breaking even at that point. But, if I had SAH then, instead of doing what I did, I wouldn't be where I am now. It's called investing in your future.

I'd just love to know what the $20,000-$30,000 in expenses are, and whether they are supposed to be unique to working people, on top of their regular expenses, or what.

Edited 4/2/2003 9:11:33 AM ET by indy_grl

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2002
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 8:53am
Mine are relatively low since I am working PT most often while the kids are at school, or while they are with my husband. Before and after school care here would run me $180 a month for two kids if I needed to use it. That is a special rate for our private school. If they were public school, it would run me about $400 a month (for a 4 week month) for before and after school care. Kinda makes me view the $600 a month tuition in another light...lol

Clothing is a big expense for me, though, because I have to wear dresses or nice pants outfits. I just don't wear that stuff at home. My wardrobe at home is sweats mostly, add in some very casual pants outfits (think elastic waist band and drawstrings), and maybe a pair of jeans or two. But mostly I wear sweatshirts (yes, even with my shorts) and some kind of casual pants, sweats, or shorts. Since I started working a month ago, I have spent an enormous amount of money just buying enough clothing to have to choose from for work. Luckily, my birthday was this month, so I used that as an excuse to buy me clothes! :) I did manage to get through all the shopping with only one skirt that is dryclean only. And if I can get some good recommendations from people, I might try that dryel stuff for it!

Driving is also not a big deal for me b/c I work about 5 minutes from the house. But if I had a more professional type job, it would most likely be a 20-30 minute drive each way. So that would add wear and tear on the car, money for gas, money for insurance (right now the car is listed as rec. vehicle only), etc. It would also increase the miles on the car, therfore increasing when I needed to change the oil and stuff.

Taxes are a big issue, though. For us, it hasn't been that big a deal b/c I haven't made enough to kick us into a higher bracket. And I'm not sure how that will work with hubby's pay being diability pay once I do start making good $$$ down the line. But I know for my cousin, that is a HUGE consideration b/c they are in a very low tax bracket with her husband working, but depending on how much she makes, it really increases their tax responsibilities.

Of coarse, there are also benefits of working like any medical insurance that might be paid by the company. That is rare here, and if they do, it is usually just for the employee, then you pay for your spouse and kids, but like I mentioned in another post, insurance for me alone is $150 a month (about) so that would be an extra $150 a month I could figure into my "income" by working. Also daycare, if you use it can be a deduction, though I think there is a cap on it. And I always found that it paid more to have an at-home business because there are more write-offs that I can take on my taxes.

So it all really depends. No family is going to be the same. No job is going to be the same. There are soooo many factors, and we don't always look at them all. Sad to say, but the only people who can really KNOW what it costs is the people involved, and they typically don't think of everything. :(

Okmrsmommy-36, CPmom to DD-16 and DS-14

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 9:24am
Because I SAH, I can only relate my dh's cost.

Because we live approx. 15 miles away, he goes through a full tank of gas. This obviously varies, but this week cost $25. He built his car with cash - so we incur no monthly payment. He spent $2000 last year in providing his own transportation.

Because he is a mechanic, he is required (and this is standard) to have his own tool box with basic tools. To update his box, or replace missing or broken tools, we spend around $5000 per year with this expense. This is not including the initial $15k investment.

Workboots. He really needs sturdy, quality boots. $250 per year.

Special Clothing. Uniforms are included with his job, and the company cleans them too. But, on top of those, he needs t-shirts for the summer and thermal wear for winter. Occasionally, he walks in on a Saturday, ends up working, and stains his nice jeans. Because his job varies from shopwork to officework, he also has a small wardrobe of nice, dressier clothes, very important when he represents the shop in business luncheons. This also figures in items like watches and hats, not really necessities, but he tends to break/ruin these often. Last year, we spent $500 on these items.

Licensing, testing fees, etc. My dh is fully certified through the state, and has to renew his certs every spring. We just mailed out a check for $50. He also has level one full ASE certs, and this costs around $300 for testing/renewal, etc.

Continuing Education. Luckily, the shop he works for covers a lot of the costs involved with seminars and workshops. Occasionally, he finds training courses in his specialized field that he does pay the cost for, books, etc. Last year, we spent $400 on outside training.

Add in a few dollars for buying Lava soap, industrial strength shower cleaner, odor eaters and 4 trips per year on average to the Chiropractor (not covered) approx. $500.

Mobile phone and service. We just signed onto Nextel two way service and bought the industrial strength phone clip. Between the purchase and continuing service, $850.

I won't even begin to try to factor in his daily lunch, snacks, and drink cost, as whether he worked or not, he would likey, eat and drink :)

I would assume in my dh's field that his work expense is on the high side. And yet, even with our taxes sitting next to me waiting to be mailed off, his expense is still less than $12000. Of course, if he had to rely on a brand new car, that cost would definately go up. And because I SAH, there is obvious no cost for child care.

If I WOH, I would pay $13-16k in child care expense (two preschoolers), extra gas expense (as I now tend to go through one tank bi-weekly.) $650. Realistically, even working in a profressional/business atmosphere, I could probably pull off a nice-sized wardrobe from thrift, approx. $400-$500 per year.

Avatar for laurenmom2boys
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 9:30am
You and I have similar expenses.

I work 5 miles from home and even if I didn't work, I'd still have a car and would most likely put at least 10 miles a day on it. Probably more because my folks live 45 miles away and I'd visit them more.

I usually bring lunch to work, but I do buy lunch and coffe from the cafeteria. Let's just say roughly $7/day x 3 days a week = $21/week.

My work attire can be anything from jeans and sneakers to suits. I'm usually somewhere in the middle, so I wear slacks/skirts and blouses/sweaters and do wear jeans once or twice a week. I love shoes and have a bunch, but not any more than if I didn't work.

I'd say that my working costs me roughly $2k-$3k/year more than if I SAH. I make $70K/year and I have no childcare expenses.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 9:43am
When my kids were younger it was much higher, although 25-30K seems unlikely, except in states where dc is astronomical. My biggest year for dc expenses was the year that dd was in n afterschool program and ds was in a dc center. I think I spent 10K that year on dc that year. Now I have no dc expenses, since my kids are in school. Summer camp will be an expense, but I would be sending them to camp regardless of my work status.

We have 2 cars, but we would have 2 cars even if I didn't WOH, cars are just a fact of life here, since theer is virtually no public transportation. I spend about 20 bucks a week on gas, I go out to eat once a week (cost is usually about 8 bucks). I can dress however I want, I do dress nicely some days, other days in jeans, so my clothing expenses are minimal. I don't do convenience food, we do takeout once a week and go out once a week, that would be the case if I SAH. I don't have a housekeeper or a lawn service, we do all the maintenance on the house ourselves. I'm having a hard time coming up with any real expenses beyond daycare.


Avatar for biancamami
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 9:55am
My only cost of working is my Nanny. That's it! I figured out that her pay is about of our 23% of my income, 30% if it were taken out of DH's salary, and 13% of our combined income.

My DH would have to go to work regardless if I SAH or not (or I would if he SAH) and I catch a ride with him (he works 3 blocks from me) On days we find parking, we take the train which is even cheaper.

We eat bkfast at home and bring leftovers to work for lunch. The nanny cooks dinner so we don't eat out at all!

DH wears jeans to work and I usually have my self-imposed NY uniform on (black pants/skirt, black shirt, black shoes) I don't own ANYTHING that has to be dry-cleaned.

I would say that there is NOTHING I would be able to "cut back on" as a SAH that would equal what I earn after daycare costs.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 10:37am
Well this probably doesnt apply to me since I work pt, but my expenses are very minimal. I work 2 (occasionally 3) nights a week, dh is home before I leave so no daycare expenses. My drive is about 8 minutes tops, so little gas burned (heck I am out and about every day, I dont even think about gas consumption!). That will change somewhat because we are moving this summer to a smaller town about 30 miles away and dh and I both will be commuting-but it wont be a huge factor. I do need nice clothes for work, but not expensive clothes by any means. I shop the sales at Old Navy and Gap a lot!! And since I only work 2 nights a week, I dont need a huge wardrobe. Food? Well I work in a restaurant and they prepare a staff meal at the end of the evening (wine included!), so my meals are not an issue. Dh and the kids usually order a pizza one of the nights I work and I will put something in the oven before I leave on the other nights.

If I worked full time and had to utilize daycare, my expenses could get fairly high. Daycare is expensive here, I'd probably be paying $500 a month for aftercare for dd and $900+ for ds. When I worked full time, I wore a uniform (re-ordered new pieces every couple years) and most times I brought my lunch. My commute was still only about 10 min. I did get drycleaning done occasionally, but we are talking *maybe* once a month at $20 a pop (if that).

Other than the daycare factor, I've never experienced irl the idea that working is expensive. Of course, I dont live in an area where there is a real commute, dont need drycleaning done once a week, and didnt eat out much even when I worked fulltime.



"Now when I need help, I look in the mirror" ~Kanye West~

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 10:45am
One thing that always peeves me about this debate is that there are added expenses to SAH too.

In order to do a *true* analysis of the cost of working, one also has to consider the cost of SAH. In other words, while there would be some savings for me to quit (daycare, an occasional lunch), there is also added cost to SAH.

What you say? How can it cost more to SAH? Well, here goes.

1. increased grocery bills - currently my kids are fed at daycare. So, I would have to spring for lunches and snacks for my kids. In addition, *I* get at LEAST one free meal a week at work, so add in some additional food cost for me too.

2. increased utilitiy bills - increased use of electricity, water, and sewage. HEre in Arizona, the increase in the electric bill could be very significant. With 90-100 degree weather from April to October, the added cost of running the AC an additonal 45 hours a week could be big.

3. Increased entertainment costs. Dd's summer camp covers a movie (and popcorn and drink) each week, bowling each week, and swimming each week. If I had to pay for those lessons directly, it would cost me. Plus, I'd be renting more movies for the kids, so add that in too.

4. Then there are things specific to *my job*. I get 4 free shirts a year at my company. So, I'd have a slightly increased wardrobe cost. I also get $10 a month off my internet service. Bam! $120 bucks a year I'd lose SAH. Not to mention that I get *loads* of free meals and events every year (charity events, free Moscow Ballet tickets, etc) that I would probably want to take my family too anyway, that I now get for free.

So, for me to truly *analyze* if it would be better to SAH, I would have to deduct my daycare costs, my lunch costs (minimal as I go home most days), my commute costs (minimal - I have to drive dd to school anyway), but then I would have to add back in all the increased costs above. I've done that. Financially, it *is* better for me to work.


Avatar for 1969jets
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 10:59am
There are different types of work expenses. The kind you MUST have and the kind you have because you are working and you can afford them. When I was working the expenses I could not avoid were childcare, work clothing, and transportation. Once my wardrobe was built up I was always able to find nice suits, blouses, etc. on sale so I didn't spend all that much money on clothing. Afer all as a SAHM I still buy clothes. I don't think the ongoing expense of work clothes is that high.

I had my own car. Dh and I could have shared a car ride to the train station and back, but coordinating schedules would have been a PITA and we really wanted our own cars. I still have my own car and I SAH. So that was not really an expense of working it was just something we have chosen.

I ate lunch at our corporate cafeteria every day. It was more expensive than bringing lunch from home but not nearly as expensive as eating out in lower Manhattan every day. Many people brought their own lunch. If I had wanted (or needed) to cut expenses I could have done that as well. But I chose not to. So lunches out is not an expense of working, just something that some working people chose to spend money on.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 11:37am
I realize that there are some hidden expenses here. If I stayed at home, I could get by with just jeans, sweats, sneakers and tshirts, but because of my job, I need dress pants, blouses, and shoes and a nice coat for winter. Of course - if I didn't work, I'd be hard-pressed to find the money to buy any dressy clothes, so I guess I'd show up at church, weddings, and funerals in my jeans!

If I stayed home, we might not need two cars, or at least, my car could be the unreliable, old clonker, instead of a '98 Honda. Of course, the old cars might blow an engine or transmission, and we'd be hard pressed to come up with the $$ to fix that if I wasn't working!

If I stayed home, I'd have time to clip those coupons to save money - but wait - If I stayed home, we'd only be able to afford store brands. No coupons for those!

I don't need to get that dressed up for work. My only "daycare expense" now is $25/week for before-school care. Summer camp will be ~$1200 for two. My commute is about 14 miles from home.

If I look at the list of what we'd have do without should I chose to stay home - that's what convinces me I have to work. I know I'm lucky to make good money - but say a woman makes only $25k/year, and with small kids in daycare, only manages to "keep" $10k. You might say, wow, you spend half your salary just getting to work! Yes - but it's the other half (the $10k) she desperately needs!