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28 Hidden Costs of Taking a New Job

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New Job, New Problems

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will hold 12 jobs in his or her lifetime. Starting in a new position can be exhilarating, but shifting out of one job and into another can actually result in more money coming right out of your pocket. Considering these hidden costs will help you evaluate if switching to that seemingly shiny new position is financially sound.


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Health Insurance

When transitioning to a new position it’s important to identify what health costs the employer is willing to cover. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium  for employer-sponsored family health coverage increased 22% over the past five years and 54% over the past 10. It’s crucial to know what percentage of costs the company will cover — and to remember that employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees are not required to have a group health plan at all. 


Related: Job Benefits You Shouldn't Overlook


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Commuting Costs

The typical American spends $1,249 a year on fuel and automobile maintenance to drive to and from work, according to The Motley Fool. When considering taking a job, evaluating commuting costs is critical — not just the money that goes into the gas tank and for new tires, but the time spent on the road. If your commute doubles, that’s twice the amount of time you won’t be able to spend with family and friends or on pursuing leisure activities. 


Related: Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage


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Dressing Up (or Down)

Moving from one position to another may require a shift in attire. Whether your new employer requires a more professional look or you find that a work environment leans more casual than your last office, changing can be costly. Kat Griffin, founder of Corporette, a blog about women's work clothes, says that you should never go into debt to buy new clothes. “Don't put it on a credit card and figure you'll pay it off later."


Related: Must-Have Products for Mothers Transitioning Back to Work


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Vacation Time

Typically, the longer a worker stays with a company, the more paid time off he or she gets, with less than five years at a company coming with 10 days off, going up to 15 days after the five-year mark, and rising from there. When considering a job change, understanding an employer’s vacation time policies should play into whether to accept a position. No one wants to lose paid time off. Also, before deciding whether to leave an employer, workers should see if unused vacation days will be paid out. Leaving a company with even one unused day is a loss of money and free time.  


Related: Ways Your Employer Could Be Cheating You


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Paid Company Holidays

Companies aren’t required to pay for time not worked, such as widely observed holidays federal or otherwise, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Paid holidays are generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee, which is why their number varies from company to company. Before moving to a job, employees should learn whether the company is equal on, or ideally has more, paid holidays. 


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Time Off to Worship

As with company holidays, employers are not required to compensate employees who wish to observe a religious holiday by not working. It’s worth checking to see if an employer offers any days off for religious observance. For instance, some give Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday, as a paid day off, while others do not. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers of more than 15 workers must "reasonably accommodate" employees' sincerely held religious beliefs unless it causes "undue hardship" to the business.


Related: America's Most Iconic Houses of Worship

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A Salary That’s Not What You Think

If you work in sales and are moving into a position based on commission, it’s important to understand the intricacies of the pay structure. “Oftentimes, salespeople are not clear on what the expectations in their new position are, and it’s only after they’ve taken the job that they find that they’re actually making significantly less than they thought they would,” says Michael Kerrigan, a Connecticut human resources director. 

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Parking

Many companies offer free, on-site parking, but in larger cities where land is scarce, some companies actually charge employees for a spot. Sometimes this fee is deducted automatically from a paycheck whether you park in the facility every day or not. Check to make sure you won’t be charged for parking, especially if you commute to work on public transportation or on foot. And as of 2018, parking costs are not tax deductible. 


Related: Calculating the Real Costs of Car Ownership

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Coffee

For some, it’s impossible to start the day without a cup of coffee. While many companies provide free, unlimited joe, it can be costly if this isn’t the case. If you need that caffeine jolt, you might want to make sure your new company keeps things brewing every day — otherwise you’ll have to figure out how to keep those costs down on your own. 


Related: How to Make Your Own Cold Brew Coffee and Save

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Lunch

Many people save money by bringing lunch to work. According to a study cited a few years ago in USA Today, “while eating out costs $11 per meal, it’s only $6.30 on average if you prepare your own.” But brown baggers need a place to store, prepare, and eat food, and some companies lack the needed refrigerators and microwaves. If this is one of your go-to options for saving money, see if your next company will have what you need. 


Related: Cheap and Easy Brown-Bag Lunches

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Your 401(k)

More than 25 million people have left at least one 401(k) or similar savings plan behind when leaving a job, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Tyler Burns, a financial analyst in Texas, calls this cause enough for employees to investigate what will happen to the money they’ve contributed to a company-sponsored savings plan should they decide to leave. It’s important to make sure that this money, especially if there is an accrued company match, can be rolled over to a new plan and not just lost. 


Related: Ways to Jump-Start Your Retirement Savings


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Health Care Savings

A Flexible Spending Account is a great way to save money by contributing pretax dollars that can be used to pay for many out-of-pocket health care costs. But if you’re switching jobs, unlike retirement accounts, you cannot roll these funds into a new account; if you take a new position, make sure to use the money in your FSA before your last day with your former employer.


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Long-Term Disability

Long-term disability insurance can provide financial benefits — typically between 50% and 70% of earnings — to an employee unable to work for a long period due to an illness or injury. Usually, group long-term disability insurance is paid for by employers with no contribution expected from employees. Smaller companies may not have this type of insurance policy. 


Related: Is Long-Term Care Insurance Right for You?


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Moving

It’s a given that if a new position requires you to relocate, you’ll have to spend to hire movers and secure a place to live. It’s also important to figure in other costs associated with a new home. Each state has its own tax rate structure, which could include a sales tax, property tax, and vehicle tax. Consider whether the fees will be comparable to what you’re paying now or will take a larger chunk of your salary.


Related: Tips for Moving to a Big City on a Small Budget


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Your Partner Might Lose Out

Is your spouse or domestic partner counting on health insurance through your job? They may be eligible through your current company but not with the next one, especially in a domestic partnership. Employers do not have to offer benefits for a domestic partner, even if it offers benefits to married spouses.. 


Related: Ways Getting Married Saves You Money


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Family Planning Funds

If you’re thinking about expanding your family through IVF, egg freezing, adoption, or surrogacy, your current employer’s health plan may include funds to help offset the cost. These benefits aren’t included in all health plans, though, and not to a consistent degree. 


Related: Countries Where Americans Can Save Big on Medical Care

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Waiting for That First Check

If you decide to take a new job — whether going straight into it or building in some time off — there may be a time you’ll have to wait to get a paycheck. Starting in the middle of a pay period may affect the date you get your first check as well. 

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That Paycheck May Cost You More

You might think a check is a check, but your new company’s payment procedures could end up costing you. For example, if the company pays only by paper check, you may have to spend time and money driving to pick up payment and going to a bank to deposit it. And some banks charge fees for checking accounts that don’t include a company direct deposit. 


Related: Simple Things Today's Teens Don't Know How to Do

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Lack of a Credit Union

Some companies have their own credit unions with high-interest savings accounts and low-interest loans. If you’re saving money or planning a big purchase such as a house or a car, or taking out a loan for college, having the option of using a credit union could really pay off. Investigate to see if your new company is associated with a credit union, or if you can continue with the one at your former company. 


Related: Benefits of Banking with Credit Unions Instead of Banks

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Career Advancement

You may have peripheral professional needs you think are important for the advancement of your career — subscriptions to trade publications, fees to attend conferences, and dues to belong to professional associations, for example. If these are paid by your current employer, confirm your new employer is open to offsetting these costs.   


Related: Things Self-Employed Taxpayers Can Write Off for Savings

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Phone Costs

Ask if your new employer will provide, pay for, or reimburse you for technology needed for a job such as a computer, phone, and software. Some states have laws that require employers to reimburse employees for the business use of an employee’s phone. And while there is no such federal law, some employers provide it voluntarily. “Even if your employer only pays $50 a month for your phone, that adds up. That’s $600 a year you can use for something else,” says Chris Scherting, a marketing manager in St. Louis.


Related: Cell Phone Ripoffs You Can Actually Avoid


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Home Office

More and more employees work from home or participate in a hybrid schedule. Check with your new employer to be clear about just what it’ll provide for a home office. In addition to a laptop, some companies will cover items such as additional monitors, power strips, basic office supplies, and even an ergonomic chair. 


Related: How to Create a Home Office From Ikea Under $200

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Career Advancement Certifications

Many highly skilled positions have a progression of professional certifications needed to keep up with local and federal regulations. Some companies will pay for review classes and certification testing, while others expect employees to absorb these costs. Certifications can also help build skills beneficial to the individual and company. Check to make sure your new company will pay for things important for your financial health and career. 


Related: Great Second Careers That Don't Require More School

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Classes

Many companies offer tuition reimbursement for classes related to the employee’s work or that are part of a degree program. Because these funds are usually paid out by the employee at the beginning and paid back by the employer upon completion of a class or degree, changing jobs in the middle could lose all of the reimbursement. Be aware if you want to pursue more education: There are also companies that don’t offer this perk at all. 


Related: Cheap Online Graduate Degree Programs to Jump-Start a Career

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Company Deals

If your current company offers discounts on memberships at warehouse stores such as Costco and at gyms and on rental cars, hotels, and even vehicle purchases, add up just how much you save using these services and calculate if your new salary covers them. 


Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor


Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to three fiduciary financial advisors in your area in five minutes.


Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.