The Sneaky Way That Working More Can Actually Cost You Money

by Ashley Eneriz · 8 comments

I’m a part-time freelance writer and full-time stay-at-home mom. I write to supplement our income and pay off our debt faster. A few months ago, I decided I’d increase my earnings and took on a few more writing commitments. I increased my earnings significantly, but I also increased my time commitment.

While the extra money was nice, was it worth it?

The High Cost of Working More

Isn’t it bizarre that earning more money can end up costing more money?

On the small scale, since I was spending several more hours per day writing articles, I ended up cooking less, cleaning less, spending less time with my daughter, etc. The result was that we ended up paying more money for fast food and took more last-minute and pricey trips to the grocery store (since I didn’t organize my meals). I ended up running the washing machine twice for one load because I’d forget I’d started a load the day before. The list goes on.

Not only was I spending more money and neglecting my duties at home, but I also felt overwhelmed and stressed. I was constantly tired because I worked late into the night and then woke up early to squeeze in more work.

Is It Worth It?

Needless to say, I dropped the extra work and am back at my happy medium. I can focus more on saving money and doing the job I want: being a homemaker.

All of this happened to me on such a small scale that I couldn’t help but wonder about those who’ve taken on more hours in their full-time jobs.

Here are some questions to see if the extra hours you put in at work are worth it:

  • Do you come home more stressed or overwhelmed?
  • Do you wish you had more time to pursue your passions or spend with your family?
  • Are you constantly going out to eat instead of making inexpensive meals?
  • Even though you’re getting paid more, do you still wonder where all the money is going?
  • Finally, are you paying more for other things, such as clothing, day care, or extra help?

Before you sign up for more responsibilities and hours at work, you have to realize how much it will really cost you. It can cost you more money because you have no time to focus on saving money, or because you need to hire more help, such as a gardener, babysitter, or housekeeper. It can cost you your health if you experience more stress and less sleep. It will also cost you more time — time to enjoy your family, build strong relationships, and pursue your passions.

Do those extra hours really look worth it now?

Maybe Working More Is Not the Answer

Even though I feel as if I proved that extra hours aren’t always worth it, I know some people will still say, “But I need to work more to make ends meet.” For some, this may be true — but for most, the truth is that you just need to scale back and focus on the basics again.

Think about this:

  • If you make $25/hr and your fast food/eating out expenses are $300 for the month, you basically had to work 12 hours just to eat unhealthy food. Think about how many inexpensive meals you could make if you had an extra 12 hours to spare.
  • Your extra income may pay for an hour of dance class for your daughter each week, but the truth is she would rather spend the extra hour with you.
  • The majority of your income may go to maintaining a nice home, but how many hours is it even lived in each day if everyone is at work and school? Wouldn’t your family benefit from a smaller home if it meant more quality time together?
  • You really want to stay home with your young kids, but you need the extra income. You work hard — but the truth is that most of your paycheck goes to daycare, work clothes, gas, and more. After all those expenses are deducted, you may only be making $4 an hour.

Regardless of whether the situations above apply to you, it’s important to take a look at just how much your extra time at work is costing you.

In your experience, are the extra hours you put in worth the extra money? 

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Steve says:

    Consider: If you quit or cut back, will it affect benefits, seniority, pension, soc sec, skillset currency, ability to get back into the workforce when ready? Which means, it’s a harder decision for a professional-level worker than for an entry level worker. At the lower end, it often works out that you are working for nothing. Quality day care is the highest expense to consider.

    • Ashley says:

      You definitely make great points. For my husband, cutting back at work is definitely not an option for all the reasons you mentioned 🙂

    • David Ning says:

      I would argue that a high income earner can cut back even more easily, as long as his/her spending level is as low as the low price worker.

      I mean, with more saved already, the former high income worker can always work at a lower income as long as expectations are kept in check.

  • Gary says:

    Great post! It’s hard to consider all the trade-offs when you take on more work, but they are so important. Every person has to find their own balance or “happy medium” as you put it.

  • Simon Cave says:

    Love this article! I totally understand your choice of dropping your side job. It makes sense, you improved the quality of your life. Let’s not forget that more money without fulfillment is useless!

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