Money Basics: How Much Does that Dream Job Cost?

Lesson 19: How Much Does that Dream Job Cost?


How much does that dream job cost?

illustration of someone in their dream job surrounded by various costs

Getting a job—or finding a better one—is just one step toward living within your means. Let's imagine that you've just received a career opportunity. Before you rush out to buy that new car or new wardrobe, slow down and consider just how much that new job is going to cost you.

At first this sounds strange. After all, a new job with a higher salary means more money in your pocket. But remember, every job has hidden costs. Transportation, wardrobe, food, and benefits are all expenses that an informed job seeker will consider in the final equation.

Watch the video below to learn about some of the hidden costs that a new job might include.

Will you have to move?

Rent or mortgage payments can eat up a significant chunk of your monthly income. Will the new job require you to move? Consider what the rent or housing costs will be in that area. Also think about whether the money you save on your commute will make a move worthwhile. Don't forget the actual expense of moving (renting a truck or hiring a moving company).

Do you need a ride?

How will you get to and from work? By bus or mass transit? By car? Will you be able to carpool and share the expense, or will you have to drive by yourself?

Transportation costs can add up quickly. Our mileage computer will help you determine the monthly and yearly cost of driving to work. It will also allow you to see how much you can save with a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Finally, before you lease a car, estimate how many miles you drive to work in a year.

What are your miscellaneous expenses?

These include wardrobe, food, and any other expenses related to your new job. Will you have to dress a certain way for work? If so, shop around to see how much a new wardrobe will cost.

Will you bring your lunch to work, or will you eat out every day? Food can amount to a significant expense if you eat takeout food every day.

What are the benefits?

Think about health insurance, dental insurance, and retirement. Unfortunately, most job seekers often overlook these benefits. Knowing the value of your benefits—or the cost of not having them—can help you make a better decision about a job offer.

  • Health insurance: This is one of the most important job benefits you can receive. Having health insurance will prevent you from having to pay a lot of money out of pocket for medical expenses.
  • Retirement: Remember, you should set aside at least 10 percent of each paycheck for retirement. Many employers will make their own contribution (usually 5 percent to 10 percent) to your retirement savings account or 401(k).

Don't get fooled by a high hourly wage or salary alone. Many jobs that seem to pay well may not include benefits. Other jobs may have a more modest salary but include excellent benefits.

Finally, don't forget about job satisfaction. With all this talk about money, it's easy to lose site of the importance of finding a job you find satisfying.