Sunday, October 05, 2008

Costs at Work

There are a lot of hidden costs of holding down a job. There's the obvious: commuting and daycare and taxes. But there are also work clothes, the cost of paying someone to do jobs at home that you can't do because of the job, and the little "extras" at work that add up. These are things that need to be considered when a woman thinks about how much spare cash she might garner by taking on employment.

But what about Dad's costs in some of those areas? Gary was worried about those situations where it would be $5 here and $5 there at work. He even asked before he was hired, and was told there aren't very many of those. He doesn't have to go out to eat for lunch, so that's helped. There are occasional contributions for a thank-you gift for somebody or a wedding gift for a different somebody. There are [relatively infrequent] gasoline costs for team-building outings to the ballpark or the zoo or a restaurant.

This week, between a new program to get fit (with good-natured "fines" for those who don't do well) and a gift for someone on the team and a bring-hors-d'ouvres day, we realized something. Gary is the ONLY person on his team that is supporting a family. Everyone else that he works with has disposable income. Either his co-workers live with somebody else who has a full-time income, or they are single. No one else is using that income as the sole income to take care of a spouse and children. That puts a totally new perspective on "$5 here" and "$5 there."

When some friends found out a year ago just how little Gary had been earning as a pastor, they wondered how we had managed to eat, much less live as well as we did. Well, there was a lot of doing-without and a lot of frugality, as well as some generosity from fellow-saints. But it's easier to make ends meet when it's just you and your family. How do you fit in with the folks at work who let go of $5 as easily as I let go of a dime, and who don't understand how anybody could be so poor as to need that $5? And if you don't fit in with them, how do you do it without offending?


  1. All of those co-worker gifts and pot lucks add up. When my husband needs to take food for a dish to pass at work, he always spends $10-15 on all the "special ingredients". You don't want to appear to be a cheap-skate, but work gifts and meals can quickly break a tight budget!

  2. We run into the same thing at my with my husband's teaching job. He teaches at two different schools in town and has "social dues" at each school (they use that money for gifts, flowers, etc.) Then there are various baby showers, wedding showers, illnesses that they request more money. They also have little pot luck dinners at times.

    Sometimes my husband just bows out which he can do at times by "slipping between the cracks" of the two schools he is serving. It does tend to drain the budget, though, living on a single teacher income! Especially since they raised the insurance rates AGAIN... I'll not touch that subject and exit your blog... :)

  3. When I worked at an insurance company there were constantly potlucks and gifts for babies and weddings. I had to just stop participating. I explained to the person who was in charge of these things that I just couldn't afford to contribute. Honestly no one made a big deal about it. Dh worked in an office at the same time and he did the same thing, neither of us had any problems and people seemed to understand. You may find that there are others who really can't afford it either and aren't participating. There is nothing offensive about this since all these things really are voluntary.