As a follow-up to my last post, I wanted to highlight some of the other benefits of working from home - or just being home - that are often overlooked when one is thinking about jobs.
The most important is the cost of having a job. I know it seems kind of counterintuitive to believe that it costs money to work, but it does. Consider that the average commute is sixteen miles, which is thirty-two miles, round trip, per day times five days equals one hundred and sixty-two miles per week. The average "worker" spends almost an hour, per day, driving to and from work, which amounts to five hours per week, and two hundred and fifty hours per year. In dollars, that's almost $2500 per year of time wasted on a commute (at $10/hour).
In actual dollars of cost, if we say that the average driver gets 25 mpg and gasoline is $3 per gallon, it costs almost $1000 per year - in just gasoline - to get back and forth to work. There are other costs involved with owning a vehicle, however. Insurance costs, on average, $1500 per year. Then, there's the annual taxes/registration that's around $100, and a car payment and/or maintenance and upkeep, which can be thousands of dollars per year.
So, just to own a car to get one back and forth to a job can cost as much as $5000 per year. At $10 per hour for 40 hours per week for 50 weeks (allowing for two weeks of vacation per year) is $20,000 annual gross income. Just the commute costs one-quarter of one's income.
Then, there is the cost of childcare, which will add $5000 to $11,000 per year to the cost of working outside the home - and that's just for one child. If there are multiple children, double it, and between the commute and childcare for two kids, it no longer makes sense to work at a $10 per hour job.
There are other expenses, too. Most jobs require employee-purchased uniforms or "work" clothes. Even fast-food restuarants, notoriously the worst paying of all low-wage jobs, require that employees buy shoes and pants for work.
And, then, there are the costs, that we never, ever, consider calculating into the cost of working equation, and those costs are not easily quantified, because we live in such a convenience-driven society that the idea of self-sufficiency is almost comletely an alien concept ... or something those hippies do.
The fact is that, if I stay home and cook meals from ingredients that I've grown here at home, I've saved my family thousands of dollars on food. If I mend our clothes rather than buying new ones, I save us money on replacement costs.
There are dozens of other ways that a SAHP (stay-at-home Parent) can implement frugal practices that save significantly over what that parent might earn in the workplace. The problem is that our society does not value saving money as much as we value spending money, and so, we've made this push for everyone to get a job.
With everyone working, more (usually low-wage) jobs are created to accomodate those working parents. And the result is that we're working to pay someone else to do what we can (and should) be able to do for ourselves, if we didn't spend hundreds of hours per week working to earn the money we think we need to pay for those services that we could (and should) do for ourselves.
If we could stop racing around that treadmill and honestly evaluate our needs versus our wants, and really calculate those things we pay for that we actually need to survive, I know we'd find that we could work a lot less, and enjoy our lives a lot more.
But don't take my word for it. Sit down. Pull out a piece of paper and a pencil and make a list of expenses. Cross off anything that doesn't fall into the "necessity" categories: shelter (include utilities like water and electricity - but with the understanding that both expenditures can be reduced significantly with some lifestyle modifications) and food (which can also be reduced with lifestyle modifications).
That number, the cost of shelter and food, is the baseline - the absolute minimum that must be earned.
And then ask, could that money be earned doing something other than participating in an expensive commute and/or a low-wage corporate job?
As Yentl proclaims, "Nothing's impossible!" and working from home is an option for anyone who is willing to take that first, scary step through the wardrobe into the unknown. Who knows what riches lie on the other side?