I was thrilled when my friend Gwen offered to write a guest post for Millennial Boss. Gwen is a crazy-awesome millennial who saved $100,000 by age 25 and is now on the path to early retirement.
She founded the blog FieryMillennials, where she shares the nitty gritty details of how she will retire in her thirties. The coolest thing about Gwen’s blog (besides the fact that she’s hilarious) is that she openly shares her monthly income and expenses with her readers. I almost feel nosy reading her monthly spending reports! She’s super inspiring.
I’ve already written about how traditional employment has its emotional costs and opportunity costs. Today, Gwen will be sharing the actual, physical costs of working. Like, the dollars leaving your bank account costs.
Working is expensive.
At least, the traditional style office life is expensive. There are many expenses popping up in my life directly related to being in the office covering every thing from where I live, what I wear, what I eat, and more.
Fortunately, in retirement a lot of these expenses will go down or go away entirely. (just like you wish that one guy two cubicles over who munches on chips all. day. long. would disappear.)
I moved to an entirely new city for my job. Twice. That meant packing and moving all my stuff, finding a new place to live, and overall adapting to a new area. Times 2. I’m fortunate that my company prefers to stay in areas that have a relatively low-cost of living. Their expenses stay low, and they don’t have to pay ultra-high wages to lure in the best workers.
Julie told me what she was paying in rent in the Silicon Valley for the apartment equivalent of a box with a kitchen and bathroom. I very nearly had a heart attack!
When I’m retired, I will be able to live anywhere in the entire world. No more being geographically bound to one small area because of your job. I like the Midwest, but I would like to see how other areas of the world live before I settle down.
It seems every company picks a charity in the area and becomes their champion. My company has chosen the local United Way chapter to sponsor. I’m not begrudging the charity in the slightest (especially since I’m pretty sure the low-cost day care I went to as a kid was affiliated with United Way) but I feel as though the pandering for donations while at work is a bit…… crass. They have two whole days of Kick Off Rallies! My employer is paying at least 20 people two days of wages, and loss of productivity, just for them to throw this event. That’s not even counting the closing ceremonies they do at the end of the week.
I could also pay $20 for the privilege of wearing jeans for two weeks. Subtract the 2 Fridays for our normal Jean Friday, and also the 3 days I’ll be out for vacation, and I’m left with 5 total days of wearing jeans for $20. Not worth it to me.
If over half the company donates to United Way, Jeans day becomes every other Friday instead of just once a month. Last year the target was 30%. I doubt that will make a difference to me as my position requires me to wear one step below business professional clothing.
In addition to actual charities, there are other ways to give away money at work. In the span of two weeks, one coworker retired, one had a birthday, and one had a baby shower. Each time, a card and envelope went around with the expectation everyone was going to sign and slip some cash in.
You can’t say no to that. Then you’re the tightwad who doesn’t want to congratulate your coworker on little baby Ethel’s impending birth. So you suck it up and go to the ATM to get some cash out.
When I quit working those obligations will be close to zero. Wedding and birthday gifts for close friends and family don’t count to me. I’m happy to give those gifts!
I have to wear nice clothes to work every day. Really, it’s my own fault for taking a position where I need to look nice. Instead of a knit cotton shirt with a camisole under it, I have to wear button down shirts under sweaters. Short sleeved shirts are basically a no-go unless paired with cute necklaces (that I don’t have and would need to buy) and a fancy shrug.
I would be completely comfortable in jeans and a nice shirt every day.
But we have a professional image to maintain, so non-dressy clothes are out.
Fortunately, just because I got this position doesn’t mean I immediately ran out to the nearest mall and cleaned out Express. My sister helped me go through my closet and then we scoured all the nearby secondhand shops for pieces that would work with what I already had. Best purchase: $2.80 pure Cashmere sweater.
When I quit working by the age of 35, I will happily purge my fancy clothes from my closet and donate them to a local secondhand shop or the local women’s shelter. I will keep a few outfits that I’m especially fond of for unforeseen situations, but most of them will go.
I won’t need Coach shoes or fancy sweaters to work on my stained glass or hang out on the couch when I’m retired and all I can say to that is THANK GOODNESS.
One thing that remains a constant from working to retirement is food. I’m told it’s necessary for survival or some bologna like that.
However, food while having a career and food in retirement are two completely different animals.
Right now, time is at a premium. I have to scramble to put a breakfast and lunch together 5 out of the 7 days of the week, which about 5 too many if you ask me. I could do meal prep Sunday, but then I’m taking up precious weekend time cooking food I can’t eat yet. By the time I get home from work, I’m mentally exhausted but I still have to eat dinner. Usually I end up making something simple like gluten-free mac n cheese, tuna salad with crackers, or whatever comes out of my Crockpot.
In retirement, I won’t be penalized $12 for not packing a lunch. I’ll simply go to the fridge whenever I feel like it. I anticipate having more time to cook more elaborate meals for dinner (ie ones with more than 3 ingredients in the recipe).
When the time comes to hand in my letter of resignation and walk out the doors of my office for the last time, I won’t hesitate. How could I with all these great things to look forward to in retirement?!
Apparently, it costs $3,300 per year for the average person to go to work. Ouch!
How much does work cost you? How do you decrease your costs of working?
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