How to Cover the Unexpected Costs of Your New Job
For Americans, starting a new job is a common occurrence. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, latter-day boomers — those born between 1957 and 1964 — held an average of 12 jobs by the time they were 50, with almost half of those occurring before they even hit 25.
Each new start is an exciting time of clean slates and chances to excel; you may even score a new title, a pay raise, and fancy perks and benefits. While you may be eagerly awaiting these financial advancements, you shouldn’t overlook the extra out-of-pocket expenses that can creep up when you make a career change.
Whether it’s your first time in the workforce or you’re simply moving from one position to another, it is important to prepare for any new, often unexpected, expenses that might come your way.
1. New-Job Expense: Missing a Pay Cycle
Whether you’re taking some time off between jobs or the timing just doesn’t line up, there is a chance that a job switch may mean missing a paycheck. This is where emergency savings are key.
“Many times, our paychecks may not align perfectly during this transition, and you may have to use cash from savings to pay a few bills,” says Sophia Bera, a certified financial planner and the founder of Gen Y Planning. She adds that you should make sure to replenish your emergency fund when you finally get that first paycheck.
To help curb costs while in this transitional period, consider weeding out nonessential expenses, says Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.
“Go through your credit card line items and checkbook to examine day-to-day expenses,” Taylor says. “Keep a daily log and determine what can be cut or at least put off until you have a new job.”
One other thought: Don’t celebrate your first paycheck until it’s in your bank account.
“Even if you have a job offer letter, wait until you’re settled in the new position before any spending sprees,” Taylor says. “Sometimes things go awry, and it’s better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes.”
2. New-Job Expense: Relocation
If your new job requires you to move, it’s not uncommon for the employer to offer a relocation bonus to help offset the costs or reimburse you for a certain amount of moving expenses.
“Be sure to factor this in when you’re negotiating your new salary, bonus structure, and company benefits,” Bera says. You might also want to research the cost of living in the new area to ensure that your new salary will allow you to maintain a similar lifestyle.
If your company isn’t offering any benefits for a move and you’ve still decided to take the new job, you may need to borrow from your savings to pay for some immediate costs. Consider purging with a garage sale. Doing so will reduce the amount of stuff you’re trying to transport and possibly give you some immediate cash. Canceling any monthly subscriptions you’re no longer using, or the ones you can do without, may also help you pad your budget to cover the costs.
3. New-Job Expense: Child or Pet Care
If you are heading back to work after taking time off to raise a child — or even just switching from a flexible position to one with a stricter schedule — you will need to consider the cost of childcare. According to a Care.com survey, the average weekly cost for infant child care is $211 for a day-care center, $195 for a family care center, and $580 for a nanny.
Bera recommends considering all of your options to determine the best fit for your family. For example, nanny shares can be a cheaper alternative to traditional one-on-one nannies if you don’t need childcare full-time. If your new gig does have flexibility, you might be able to swap childcare hours with another parent who works different hours from you.
Don’t forget about your furry kids, either. If your new job requires leaving your pet for long periods of time, you may need to consider a dog walker. According to HomeGuide.com, dog walkers charge an average of $20 per 30-minute walk. Websites like Rover.com can help you research and compare options to get the best person in your price range.
4. New-Job Expense: Buying New Clothes
Adapting your wardrobe to your new work environment can be expensive, especially if you’ll be starting from scratch. Before pulling out the plastic to buy new clothes, Taylor suggests taking stock of what you already have.
“Start thinking about how you can maximize and extend your wardrobe by coordinating basic colors,” she notes. Taylor suggests beginning with “basic navy and black blazers and pants and the ever-reliable white, or off-white, shirts or blouses.” Taking some time before making new purchases will give you a chance to see how others dress before you spend too much on clothes that may end up being more or less casual than the office vibe.
If buying new clothes is a must, Bera suggests clearing out your closet and bringing whatever you no longer need to consignment shops to get some extra cash to put toward new purchases.
5. New-Job Expense: Commuting Costs
The average monthly commuting cost in major cities for people who have to park is a whopping $363. Opting for buses, taxis, or subways instead of driving can help curb the cost, but if public transportation isn’t an option, carpooling might be your best bet.
“If you find during your interview process or once on the job that others live near you, you may be able to carpool, especially if you work in or near a large city,” Taylor says.
Bera also suggests checking to see if you can use pre-tax dollars to pay for parking or a bus/metro card through work. “Many employers offer this through their workplace benefits, so talk to your HR department to see if this applies to you,” she says.
6. New-Job Expense: Social Outings That Include Coffee or Meals
There may be some social expenses associated with your new job — like grabbing coffee with a coworker or attending lunches or after-work drinks — so consider making adjustments in your regular budget to cover those added costs. For example, cutting back on visits to specialty coffee houses and fancy restaurants during your off-work hours means more money in your budget to pay for those things when you need to be social for work. The old standby of bringing your own coffee and lunch from home on most days helps you save more to put toward social work outings, Taylor says.
Cheryl Lock is a writer who specializes in personal finance topics relating to parenting, real estate, and travel, among others.