Can You Afford to Work Outside the Home - USAA Community.jpg

If you are considering re-entering the work force after a long break, you might be considering part time work or an entry level position. One thing you probably don’t realize is all the possible costs associated with working outside the home. Thinking about going to work outside the home should be a discussion you have with your partner, especially if it has been quite some time for you. In reality, one of the biggest decision factors might be will you be making enough to justify working? How will it affect your household budget?


Whether you are a stay-at-home parent ready to join the workforce or working from home and want to explore the outside working world, there are some things to keep in mind budget-wise before taking the leap.


Can You Afford to Work Outside the Home? Here are 4 things to consider…


Childcare: Perhaps the biggest expense of them all. If you have small children, you know how expensive childcare can be. A recent survey shows that nearly one in three families (32 percent) report spending 20 percent or more of their annual household income on child care. Going back to the question above, will you be making enough to justify working? Do your research on different childcare options – especially if your kids are school aged. In the summer, how much will you need to pay for full day childcare? How much is before and aftercare during the school year?


Commuting: It’s hard to find that perfect job with no commute. The average American spends 26 minutes commuting by car and $2,600 per year in costs, yikes! That’s roughly $215 per month. Do the math and calculate what gas, tolls, and wear and tear on a vehicle will cost. Do you live in a metropolitan area or commuting to one? Calculate the train, bus and taxi as well; it may cost more – or maybe less.


Wardrobe: When you work from home or work remotely, wardrobe can be less of an issue. Take into consideration that your new job may come with a stricter dress code. How much will it cost you to buy clothing and how often will you need to replenish that wardrobe? Think of where you live and the seasons. Many think they won’t need much, until you realize you have to wear something different 5 days of the week. The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Food: If you pack your lunch, you will be saving quite a bit weekly, but you still have to take into account any extras you may need to purchase. Even if you eat lunch out just once a week, let’s say you spend $10 per lunch, it could run you $480 per year. That isn’t counting snacks, drinks and coffee. If you are an avid coffee drinker it could be hard to turn down a coffee break with your co-workers. It all adds up.


Got all that written down? Now get your budget out and crunch the numbers. This isn’t written to discourage you or make you feel like it can’t go to work outside the home, but to prepare you and keep you on track with the budget considerations. This will be one of the best ways to determine if the job opportunity you are considering is best for you and your family.


As military spouses, we can move often and finding that flexible position might seem impossible. Weighing the opportunity with the costs will help you in making the decision to return to the workforce and contribute to your household budget. Waiting until your kids graduate high school or your spouse separates or retires from the military might be the decision you make, then again, the experience you gain from this entry level or part time work might give you that added experience for the next step in your career progression.


If you’re thinking about going back to work outside the home, what financial factors must you and your family consider? Share with us in the comments below.


Other posts you might like:

Military Discount Roundup: 18 Summer Saving Ideas

Breaking the Cycle of Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck

Save More by Creating a Monthly Meal Plan

Realistic Places to Cut Spending


About the Blogger: Angela Caban is an Army National Guard spouse, published author and branding expert. In 2010, she founded the Homefront United Network, a military spouse and family support blog created to assist spouses who do not live near an installation, but also focusing on bridging the gap between National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty spouses. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and Communications, with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Human Resources. Angela resides in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with her husband and two children.