How Much Does it Actually Cost to Work Away From Home?

Seven hidden ways your job might be costing you money

Do you dream of being able to give up your job, but think it’s impossible? 

For many families, the idea of living on one income may sound intimidating.

It certainly did to me.


You may be as surprised as I was to discover how much it actually costs to work away from home. Eliminating these seven hidden work-related expenses may just free up enough money in your budget to justify staying home.

When I finally decided to leave the workplace, and stay home right before our fourth child was born, my family was very accustomed to my income.

My husband’s paycheck covered the mortgage and most of our big monthly expenses, but mine was a necessary cushion for things like groceries, dance classes, new clothes, and Chic-fil-a kids’ meals.

As unnerving as it was to consider giving up my income, I was desperate and determined to be home with my kids and willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

Before we made the decision to give up my job, my husband and I met for a “budget date”. If you call it a “date” it almost sounds fun, right?

Seeing our expenses on paper revealed to us that many of our monthly expenses were actually work-related.

My job was costing us around $500 per month, and that’s a slight under-estimate.

If you do not have a working budget, you can download my free, Complete Budget Binder printable here to get started!

Free Printable Budget Binder



You may be as surprised as we were to discover how much it is actually costing you to work away from home. Here were some of the hidden expenses we uncovered:

  1. Gas for the Commute- $100

By the time I drive the kids to the babysitter, backtrack across town to get to work, run any errands on my lunch break, pick the kids up from the babysitter, and head back across town towards home, my gas tank is drained. I was spending approximately $100 per month on just my work commute.

  1. Childcare- $200

We are extremely blessed to live near family members who graciously watch our kids for free the majority of the time. But even with mostly free childcare, we were spending approximately $200 per month on childcare-related expenses while I worked. The average cost of childcare in the U.S. is anywhere between $300 and $1,000 per month.

  1. Eating Out- $80

Even with good intentions to bring a sack lunch, eating out is sometimes unavoidable. There’s always the occasional staff lunch, birthday celebration, or a lunch date to catch up with an old friend. Not to mention the occasional egg-McMuffin on those mornings when you’re running late.  We estimated that I was spending about $80 each month eating out.

  1. Morning Coffee- $50

You know the mornings when everything that can go wrong does? Someone can’t find their shoes, the baby wipes her nose on your clean slacks, the car needs gas, and in all the chaos you don’t have time to finish a cup of coffee before frantically running out the door. And yes, morning coffee is considered a necessity for a working mama. I was spending around $50 at the coffee shop.

  1. Professional Wardrobe-$30

I don’t spend a lot on clothing but looking presentable in the workplace is important. My clothing budget included suitable clothing and occasional dry-cleaning. I was spending around $30 per month on wardrobe-related expenses.

  1. Cosmetics and Grooming-$60

I’m lucky that my sister-in-law is a talented hair stylist and spoils us with free haircuts. This perk helps keep this part of the budget low, but it’s estimated that the average American woman spends $8 on cosmetics and grooming per day, which is around $240 per month.

  1. Survival Mode/Unexpected Expenses-$50

Let’s face it. Working moms spend a lot of time in survival mode. I’m referring to those days that don’t go according to plan. The days when we oversleep or a kid is sick or there is a school holiday. These crazy days often bring with them unexpected expenses. We estimated that these “survival-mode” days cost me about $50 per month.

If you wish you could stay home but the idea of living on one income sounds a little intimidating, I encourage you to examine your budget.

Are there any work-related expenses you may have overlooked?How much does it cost you to work? Weigh the cost of working against your dream of being home. Living on one income may be more approachable when these expenses are eliminated.

Best of Luck!

a fresh bed of crisp romaine lettucetopped with fresh vegetables, walnuts,and a raspberry vinaigrette dressing



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