WORKPLACE / DEC. 06, 2015
version 10, draft 10

Is Your Job Costing You Money?

Working to get paid is just a part of life. If you want to get ahead in life, unless you are very lucky, you’re going to need to put some work in. This can either entail working for yourself, or for someone else. If you think about it, almost everything in life is geared towards you getting a job, from your education to family commitments, right the way through to the consumerist world we live in. Society has largely accepted that working for your money is aspirational, and the harder you work, the more benefits it can bring (or this is what usually happens).

See Also: How to Achieve Your Ideal Salary

So it could be unfathomable to think that a job could be costing you money. How could something designed to give you money, also be taking it away just as rapidly? But you’d be surprised how easy a job can become detrimental to your weekly, monthly, or yearly bottom line. These impacts can either come directly from the job, or from aspects that go alongside it. They can also be self-inflicted, or part of the career. We’re going to look at a few ways your career could actually leave you with less money overall.

Transport Expenses

As a general rule, most jobs affected by a financial loss will be on the smaller end of the pay scale. At some point, there will come a day in which you will outearn all costs associated with your job. But if you are on the smaller end of things, one thing to look out for is transport costs.

A  car is an expensive object to run. Petrol will suck up coins gradually, but there is also insurance, tax, and maintenance to be considered. So already, a lot of money you earn will be given over to your car or motorbike. But if you only drive to commute, and you are still finding yourself scraping the pennies together at the end of the month, is the job really worth it?

With that being said, you may find things equally expensive if you utilise a railcard, taxi, or any mode of transport that isn’t walking. Therefore, the best practice is to try to calculate commuting expenditure before you accept a job. Do a dummy run to your new workplace, and use that to figure out monthly costs. Of course fees will differ throughout the year, but you are just looking for the average here. It may be a better idea to find a job closer to home, if the costs are too high.


A lot of jobs require equipment outside of just a standard stationary kit. Though the business you work for should cover a lot of equipment necessary for the job, you still may be expected to chip in. If it transpires that you need a whole new computer at home, or a set of tools not provided by the company, or even a constantly changing uniform (common in the fashion industry), that can really affect your income.

Eventually, there will come a tipping point, where you are essentially working to pay off the debt generated by buying items you need for work. These types of cycles are what this article is trying to highlight as a less-than-uncommon threat.

In fact, there are companies that want to trap you in such a cycle. They don’t always achieve it through pay - they will try and get you so dependent on job perks like healthcare and pensions, that walking away becomes less of an option. But the benefits on their end are obvious, as they have a work force they can rely on for years to come. They key is to be aware of these type of schemes happening, ideally before you join the company. In your interview, ask what additional expenses on your behalf there might be. If you are already working and can see yourself approaching a point where you are “working to pay off work debts”, then you should consider changing things up. 


In some industries, working in a freelance capacity is just a means to an end at the start of a career. You need to be able to build up a body of work first and foremost, which will more often than not need to be built off your own back, for no money. Through this, you may end up working with several outlets in a freelance capacity, glad of the exposure. However, this can be a slippery slope.

Think about it in terms of your own life. If you are getting something for free, suddenly being asked to pay for it isn’t going to go down well, especially if you have become accustomed to getting something for nothing. Freelance outposts are going to be the same. Any request you make to earn some money may be shot down immediately because “You knew what you were getting into”, and they are right. Some websites will simply never pay contributors, no matter how good the work is.  

If the freelance work is being done in hopes of landing a job with a client, set a deadline. Not to tar everyone with the same brush, but some companies will just string along their freelancers until they drop off, at which point they will bring in the next batch of hopefuls. Assess if the time you are giving up is worth it, and if it isn’t, look for better ways of getting noticed. You may be doing enough work to match someone getting paid and not even know it; you should check the average salary in similar job positions to find out.


This may sound odd, but one way a career can suck you into a financial hole is by getting you accustomed to a life you can’t afford. For example, managing directors may feel the need to impress any new clients with a big office, a fancy suit, and a lavish dinner meeting. If they are earning enough to cover all of this, that is fine. However, if they are living beyond their means, it can be a dangerous downwards spiral.

A lot of careers can have this effect. Returning to the fashion industry, you may feel under immense pressure to always be on point, and to not wear the same outfit twice. This may then force your hand to buy more clothes than you can afford. Even though this will make you seem very stylish, you also need to think about your future career goals.

To avoid this, always be aware of your expenditure. Laying out huge sums of money can seem like a good idea if it will guarantee long term gains, but there has to be some semblance of common sense, even in this way of thinking. Be smart, and make calculated risks as opposed to living the lavish life for the sake of it. You will be rewarded in the long-term if you are careful right now.

See Also: 10 Strange Jobs That Pay Surprisingly Well

Hopefully, you’ll now be acutely aware of the pitfalls related to negative income jobs. The key is to spot the problems early and deal with them ASAP. The longer the problem goes unnoticed, the deeper the hole becomes. This is why you should always think of all the pros and cons before accepting a specific job offer.

Have you ever been trapped in this money cycle? Earning money from your job, just to pay off your work related costs? Let us know all your thoughts below…

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