Dealing with Expenses From Your First Job

Your hard work and perseverance have paid off: you’ve landed your first job. But before you start planning how you’ll spend that first paycheck, plan for a few unexpected costs of having a job. Making money may end up costing you a little money, but don’t worry; with a little planning, you can stay on top of these costs and keep your finances in check.

Here are a few of the expenses that could take you by surprise when you enter the working world:

  • Taxes. Due to federal and state taxes taken out of each paycheck, your annual salary is not an accurate reflection of what you will take home each month. Base all budgeting decisions on your actual take-home pay. There are also some work-related expenses that can be used as tax deductions.
  • Clothing. Employers usually require professional dress or a uniform of some kind. Start building your work wardrobe in small pieces over time to reduce an expensive up-front cost. You also may be able to find deals at consignment shops and discount retailers.
  • Food. Making coffee instead of stopping at a coffee shop and packing a lunch will save you money, but you may not always have time for those things. Add some flexibility into your budget for the occasional breakfast or lunch on the go.
  • Transportation. Using public transportation or commuting to work by biking or walking could be a money-saver, especially if your employer offers a transit pass as part of your benefits package. If those options are closed to you, make sure you budget for gas and for auto repairs and insurance.
  • Networking. Making connections in your field is important, so budget for the occasional meal with a colleague or professional meet-up at a restaurant or coffee shop. You also may want to ask if your employer pays for memberships in relevant professional organizations.
  • Travel. Some jobs might require you to travel. Check with your employer on how and when the company covers work-related travel expenses. Remember to keep all receipts for possible tax deductions.
  • Technology. Before buying a smartphone or laptop for work, ask your employer if the company supplies these items or offers reimbursement for them.
  • Parking. Parking spots are scarce in busy cities, so if you are going to work in one, expect to pay for a premium spot—possibly even for a spot where you’ll be living. Ask your employer if it can validate parking or get you a discounted rate. If not, co-workers may have the inside scoop on where the most affordable lots are located.
  • Child or pet care. Whether you hire a dog walker or nanny, ensuring your loved one’s care is a pricey necessity. Community centers (such as churches, coffeehouses, or gyms) are great places to start asking around about getting these services at lower costs. You also may want to ask a friend or co-worker for a referral.

Before you get overwhelmed about the expenses of working, take comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone. Most of the working world is hit with at least a few of these costs. The key is to plan ahead for them and to be smart about the money you do get to keep in your pocket.

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