The hidden costs of earning money

Have you ever noticed that is costs money to earn money? My usual job is part-time. But due to some changes in the team this year I put my hand up to work full time for 6 months. I describe this to others as ‘falling on my sword’! But in reality I really don’t mind because I’m one of those increasingly rare people who loves their work (most of the time anyway!)

What I have learned during this time is that the more money you earn the more you spend. Some of this is choice and some is necessity. Spending on clothes and food goes up. There are increased costs to run a car, and more is spent on parking. My petrol costs have gone way up.

Many people comment about the extra money they spend on daily takeaway coffees and buying rather than bringing lunch. It’s an effort to plan meals for the week, organise lunch, and prepare something after a tiring day at work. Eating out or getting takeaways at night becomes an easy and tempting option. I have a problem with the takeaway culture, and make a concerted effort to plan meals and not spend on takeaways. Infrequently I’ll buy a chai soy latte when at work, always in a travel cup. And I’m left-over queen when it comes to work lunches and rarely have to buy mine.

I’ve particularly noticed the need to spend more on clothes. I love this little ornament because it reminds me of the friend who gave it to me who loves to shop. But personally I have an aversion to shopping, except when I’m on holidays (sometimes with that friend!). My dislike of shopping makes me a minimalist when it comes to clothes. So one of the first things I found when I returned to full time work was that I didn’t have enough in my wardrobe for a 5 day a week professional job! I managed to pick up some extra items from an op shop. But I did have to spend money on new clothes as well.

Hairdressing costs increased for me. I also usually do my own hair colour which saves about $35 after product purchase. But since working full time I’ve mostly been getting my hairdresser to do it every 6 weeks. There’s just less time on the weekends for messing around putting my own colour on. And it’s more affordable to go to the hairdresser because I’m earning more!

Money has also been spent paying for someone else to do things that I would ordinarily do myself. Mr Simply Will needed a black vest for a performance. Taking a leaf out of my book, he searched for one in an op shop. The trouble was, it was patterned with Disney characters! If I hadn’t been working full-time I would have had time to cover it myself, though probably not particularly well. Instead, we paid $60 to have it done professionally.

These are just some examples of the ways in which increased spending sits alongside full time work. There are many more, like child care, and the costs of servicing that mortgage on the much more expensive house bought with a higher income.

We should all be much better off financially when working full-time. But the extra money earned can very easily be whittled down, making the increased days at work less worthwhile. Less work will always mean less income. But it also means more time for other things, a more productive garden, and less spending on many things. Perhaps in the end it is about balancing what we need to do with what we want to do with life.

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  • Margaret Rowe says:

    Having been retired now for 11 months the big surprise is how much money I actually need to live quite a nice lifestyle. And the answer is not much. I don’t need clothes, run my car less, and no longer pay tax, union fees, superannuation, professional development and I receive discounts on movies, public transport, electricity (have solar so make money) et al. I do have more coffees but that comes with lively, interesting conversations and my garden has had some monetary TLC but the result is very pleasing. Every person’s situation is different of course and there can be responsibilities and commitments that don’t allow for choice of work hours. Margaret

    • Jo says:

      What a nice surprise to have Margaret! I wonder what you now think of the retirement ‘propaganda’ which talks up the amount of money people need for a ‘comfortable’ retirement (whatever that is). You are right of course, some people’s circumstances just don’t give them too many options. Aren’t we so fortunate to be at the stage and situation in life to allow some choices.

  • Roslyn Williams says:

    Hi Jo, I’ve bitten the bullet and 2018 is going to be for Geoff and I. I’ve stopped dying my hair and younger people are saying just how much courage and good example it has given them. I do love shopping for clothes but I do it all online and every item I choose fits perfectly, I used to do it for my mum, just look for size, flattering styles and colours, purchase with PayPal and then send. When the parcel would arrive she’d ring and have my sister-in-law, niece or my sister post a Facebook photo of her modelling the item.
    I know I’m totally off the topic of your post but I wanted you to know that your posts have given me courage to seek a slower paced life.

    • Jo says:

      I’ve contemplated going grey Ros but just don’t have the courage as yet. Call it vanity perhaps…..! Good on you for doing this. I also buy some clothes online, from a fair trade clothing company called Eternal Creation. Don’t we all love to have a parcel arrive in the mail? I think my love of this comes from growing up in the north – mum used to buy clothes for me from the McDonnell and East catalogue. I recall the exictement of the package arriving and discovering its contents. Have loved the anticipation and delivery of a package ever since!

  • Dianne Williams says:

    Working puts us in the glare of consumerism doesn’t it; I long ago developed the habit of coffee for a heart-starter after I unlocked the door to our staffroom and now it is as I sit reading on the train. I must say though Jo, it’s not a soy chai latte! In this work iteration I must resist the urge to stalk the shops before taking the final leg home on the bus at day’s end, just ‘in case’. When I fail to resist, I do at least resist a purchase but the browsing has a weird calming effect. God knows how… Nowadays I sometimes buy lunch which I would not do as a retiree. It seems to me part of a reward for working, or some such emotion as that , which has no foundation in common sense at all! Anyway all things considered, I spend more as a working woman but the bills, which turn up in the letter box whether we work or not, are paid. On top of that, the homeless man gets a coffee (also not soy chai!) and the visually impaired woman at the shop gets a few coins and the local sandwich bar gets a few too. I agree Jo, after all this, that it does cost money to earn money: maybe it’s a good thing!


    • Jo says:

      Yes Di the other side of spending is that it keeps local businesses vibrant and keeps people employed, including sometimes those with disabilities. If we are going to buy something it’s good to be thoughtful about where to make the purchase.

  • Much like you Jo I’m not a fan of shopping and am a definite minimalist when it comes to clothes. I think a job with uniform would help.
    Being at work is more social too so those Friday lunches, morning tea coffees etc. would be harder to resist than if you were at home.
    I also think cost of food would go up for us as far as veggies. Wouldn’t have as much time to look after the veggie patch.
    More of a tendency to pay for services we would otherwise do ourselves.
    I like your little ornament too.

    • Jo says:

      Looking at your wonderful veggie patch Kylie I have no doubt that food costs would go up in your household if you were spending a lot of time at work! It is much harder to maintain it all when working. I adore that ornament!

  • middleagedmamaoz says:

    Oh the money I wasted on pantihose when I worked in an office – usually lasting only a couple of wears – and I hated wearing them anyway!!!

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