money health weekly


How Much Does Your Job Cost?

there's more to life than your work
❝There is nothing wrong with loving your work and wanting to apply yourself to it. But there is so much more to life.❞ -Bronnie Ware

I feel pretty good as I move into my new office. I accepted a director-level job at a financial planning firm that comes with a good salary, opportunities to expand my network, and a potential for an ownership stake in the firm. As I'm unpacking, I pause to reflect on how far I've come.

In college, I happened upon a book about different careers in finance. One that spoke to me was a portfolio manager, though I had never heard of that. I was drawn to this because of all the jobs in the book, it had the highest salary expectation. So I set out to become a portfolio manager and pursued a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter.

Since earning the CFA charter, I went on to earn many other professional designations. I started out in the investment industry doing what we called "gopher work," eventually working up to Vice President. Now, I find myself in this fancy new role.

I should be happy.

My life right now is the opposite of my upbringing. I don't have to worry about money, I'm not behind on my bills, and I can afford anything I want.

I'm also miserable. Despite accomplishing everything that I was "supposed to" do, I'm pretty far from happy. My fancy new director-level role comes with a micromanager, the expectation of working evenings and weekends, and few vacation days. That means that my top values of autonomy, adventure, and creativity will never be met. I'm living a life where my behaviors are not aligned with my values.

I never stopped to ask myself how much my job was costing me.


It's easy to know how much your job pays, right? It's right there in your paycheck. Unfortunately, that's not quite the case. We always have to give up something. There is always a trade-off. The easy trade-off to recognize is our time; we trade our time for money.

It actually is deeper than that. If you want to calculate the net pay, you have to consider how much you would save if you didn't have your job. You already know that you have to spend time at work. You may not know that you spend more time than you think. It's common to get paid for working eight hours per day, but if you spend an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening commuting, then your job costs you 10 hours per day. The amount you make per hour will be reduced. This is also true if you spend time on evenings and weekends answering emails or doing projects at home.

Similarly, how much do you spend on business clothes? Perhaps there's an expectation of wearing a specific style of clothing, driving a particular car, or keeping a particular lifestyle. If you didn't work that job, you wouldn't have to purchase these things.

It can be humbling to figure out how much you make on a net basis after accounting for the actual hours you put in and the money you spend for your paycheck.

But wait...it actually goes even deeper than that. It's not always about hours and dollars. How much of your mental energy do you spend thinking about or worrying about work? Does work take you away from spending time with your family? Do you find yourself stressed out or frustrated at the end of the day? Do you have to put your hobbies on ho