How much does it cost to work? More than $3K a year, study finds

WASHINGTON — Taxes, health insurance and 401(k) contributions are deductions from your paycheck that you can see. But another drain on your salary may be a bit more stealthy — the cost of getting to work.

A survey by CareerBuilder finds that Americans spend an average of about $3,300 a year on expenses related to work — that includes gas or public transportation fares, day care, pet care, clothes, coffee and more.

The survey found that 84 percent of the workers they asked drive to work, while 7 percent take public transportation. Of those who drive, 37 percent spend $25 or more a week on gas, including 7 percent who spend more than $50 a week, which adds up to about $2,500 a year.

About 72 percent of workers surveyed took their lunches with them to work, while half of those who buy their lunches spend $25 or more a week on it.

Daycare runs more than a third of parents more than $500 a month — in the D.C. area, that can run a lot more.

And 49 percent of the workers surveyed buy coffee at some point during the workweek; 3 percent spend $25 or more a week on it.

This knowledge is important for the same reason keeping track of any expenses is important, says Rosemary Haefner, the chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

Knowing what you’re spending, and on what, “can help you trim costs and make different lifestyle choices if need be,” she said.

“You can vow to carry lunch to work every day, stop buying coffee out, look for cheaper business clothes. Managing those costs can help account for others, like commuting and child care, which won’t subside.”

The survey covered 3,031 private- and public-sector workers and “one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 1.78 percentage points,” CareerBuilder says.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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