The True Cost of Having a Job: Is it really worth working the 9-5?

Just earlier today the Fair Work Commission announced it had increased the Australian minimum wage by 3.3% for the new financial year to $18.29 per hour. This piece of information would normally go unnoticed by me as I’m now a professional adult with a professional office job in professional corporate clothes, moving up in the world. I’m earning well above minimum wage, aren’t I?

If Financial Independence heavy weight Joe Dominguez’ ghost was watching over me now, he’d probably scoff at my naivety and laugh all the way back to his grave.

Turns out, after completing the first two chapters of the FI classic ‘Your Money or Your Life’ and completing the first two steps of financial self awareness, I had some nasty wake-up calls. And by wake-up I mean a wake-up call from the Fair Work Commission, Vicki Robins, Joe Dominguez and my personal expense app Pocketbook expense sheet.

The first two steps of ‘Your Money, Your Life’ are:

  1. Calculate exactly how much income you’ve earned since you’ve started working, and then compare this to your current net worth. Eeeek.
  2. Calculate your income and then remove all work related expenses from your income, to find your hourly wage.

Work related expenses includes take-away food you buy out of convenience, transport to and from work, entertainment costs like Friday drinks after a long week at work, holidays to relax from the stress of work. You can say that a lot of these costs are ‘pleasure’ and ‘enjoyment’ costs which are not work-related tax-deductible costs, however these costs most likely wouldn’t be incurred if it weren’t for the daily grind. It’s up to you to make a judgement call on what expenses you incur due to working.

After looking at my lifestyle costs versus my income, my ‘real’ wage wasn’t far from the recently released minimum wage announced today. Although I haven’t included rent in this calculation, for many people their job would determine their location and this hourly wage would reduce even further if they didn’t need to live in a place convenient to their workplace.

Taking the above two steps makes you think that you could potentially be working part-time and earning the amount if it weren’t for direct and indirect work expenses, doesn’t it? Food for thought.

xx Miss Piggy

Cover illustration by Lena Kerr.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s quite a depressing math equation but I did it a lot when I was working. Bus fare + time wasted on bus + having to bring and use my own laptop + expensive mexican food nearby etc.

    1. Miss Piggy says:

      The associated costs of working are definitely something I didn’t even calculate or consider before reading this book. But once it’s spelled out, it’s hard to not act on it! I’ve never been so motivated to bring my own lunches to work so much haha!

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