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Build Your Career Office Life

How Much Does It Cost You to Go to Work?

How Much Does It Cost You to Go to Work?
Credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Going to work every day is not a cheap endeavor. New research from CareerBuilder found that, on average, employees spend more than $3,300 a year on everything that goes into getting ready for, going to and being at work every day.

The study examined the costs of driving, taking public transportation, eating lunch, drinking coffee and buying work clothes, as well as expenses related to child and pet care as a way for employees to get a better handle on how to budget their paychecks.

"The cost of work is often what the rest of your budget is centered around," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement.

Among the expenses employees have on a weekly or monthly basis are:

  • Driving:  The research found that 47 percent of those who drive to work spend between $10 and $25 on gas each week, with 30 percent spending between $25 and $50.
  • Public transportation: Nearly half of those who take a bus or train to work spend more than $25 each week to do so.
  • Lunch: While more than 70 percent of workers pack a lunch each day, half of those who don't spend an average of $25 a week to eat out.
  • Coffee: Half of the employees surveyed buy coffee during the workweek. Of those, 71 percent spend less than $10 a week, with 25 percent spending between $10 and $25.
  • Day care: Nearly 30 percent of working parents with kids under age 18 living at home spend money on child care. Of those, more than one-third spend $500 or more on day care each month.
  • Pet care: Nearly 60 percent of the workers surveyed have pets. More than half of those spend less than $10 per week on pet care, with 33 percent spending between $10 and $25.
  • Apparel: Nearly half of employees surveyed spend less than $250 a year on clothing, shoes and accessories for work, with 35 percent spending between $250 and $749. Just 5 percent spend between $1,000 and $2,000, and only 2 percent spend more than $2,000 annually on work attire.

Having a better understanding of how much they are spending on going to work can help employees trim costs and make different lifestyle choices if need be, Haefner said. [See Related Story: Bored Office Workers Turn to Chocolate, Coffee & Booze]

"You can vow to carry lunch to work every day, stop buying coffee out, look for cheaper business clothes," she said. "Managing those costs can help account for others, like commuting and child care, which won’t subside."

In addition to those who already have a job, those looking for work also have mounting costs. More than one-quarter of employees said the last time they looked for a job they spent at least $200 on a variety of items, including clothing, transportation, printing, travel, networking events, computer hardware and software and recruiters.

The study was based on surveys of 3,031 full-time employees over age 18.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.