Dealing with hidden expenses of your first job
When you start your first job out of college, there are costs you’ll need to consider and budget for.
Here are a few to keep in mind:
Clothes. You need to dress professionally and appropriately for your career. The field of work you choose will have bearing on what is considered appropriate. If you go into banking or an area of finance, suits are the norm, although some offices allow “business casual” attire such as nice slacks and shirts for men, and blouses or sweaters and pants or skirts for women. More creative fields such as Web design or software engineering allow more casual clothing. No matter what industry you're working in, you can get a good idea of what's appropriate by observing the dress of those in higher positions.
Eating out. After a day at work, many people feel too tired to cook or they want to treat themselves by going out to eat. You can budget for this expense, but the costs can add up quickly. Even if you only go out for fast food (not the best long-term plan for your health!) three times a week, over the year you may spend more than $1,000. In the long run, it's better for your physical health and your financial health if you buy groceries and cook nutritious meals at home.
Travel. If your job requires you to travel, this will be an area to add to your budget. Some companies provide a "per diem" amount to spend every day, and the amount often depends on the city you'll be in and how expensive that city is. The per diem amount is to pay for your meals and various expenses while traveling. However, if you eat out every meal in nice restaurants, you'll easily exceed your per diem amount and the difference will come out of your pocket. One solution is to take healthy food bars, nonperishable healthy snacks, and fruit with you to eat on the way so you're not tempted by expensive airport food. If your hotel room has a refrigerator, you can buy some cheese or yogurt and bagels for breakfast. Just saving money on one meal a day can go a long way in stretching your per diem.
Transportation. You need a dependable way to get to work every day, whether that's a car of your own or public transportation. If you have your own car, you'll need to budget not only for gas costs, but also for maintenance such as regular oil changes, tune ups, tire rotations, and so on. You'll also have insurance premiums and you may need to pay for parking. Taking public transportation is usually less expensive but you have to choose to live close by a bus or train stop.