Canstar Article: The Cost Of Having A Job: One Tenth Of Your Wage

Cost of having a job

The Cost Of Having A Job: One Tenth Of Your Wage

Article by Sam Bloom from

The average Australian worker spends over $7,000 a year on going to work, according to a recent study.
ING DIRECT’s Cost Of Going To Work report found that our nation spends a whopping $39 billion each year on being “work-ready”.

The average cost per worker of these expenses was $7,094 per year, meaning Australians are spending 8.7% of the nation’s average wage purely on getting ready for work.

Expenses such as travel, work clothes, food and drink, parking, and grooming were all included in the report, which surveyed over 1,000 Australians.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest expense was found to be travel; ING found that an average of $179/month is spent going to and from work. This equates to $2148 each year, which is over 30% of people’s work-related costs.

The next-highest spend was on lunches at work, with the research revealing that $129/month was spent on average – perhaps a sign that far too many Aussies buy lunch rather than bringing their own.

The costs of transport and food were by far the biggest drains on household budgets. Coffee and energy drinks averaged a cost of $74/month, while work clothes and grooming expenses both averaged less than $40 over the same period.

“We’re a nation of hard workers, but the expenses that come with going to work can add up,” said John Arnott, Executive Director of Customer Experience at ING Direct.

“From the cost of the daily commute, to barista coffees, takeaway lunches, work-related grooming, and work attire – a lot of the time we simply don’t consider the impact these expenses can have on our bank balance month-to-month.”

Victorians spending the most on work-related costs

The costs of getting ready for work varied significantly from state to state. Victorian residents shelled out the most on being work-ready, spending an average of $663/month – over $70 more than the average national spend of $591/month.

Victoria was closely followed by NSW which saw its citizens spend $622/month on average – an expected result for the states which house Australia’s two largest cities respectively. NSW residents spent a whopping $120 more than Queenslanders, who had to part with just $503/month to get ready for work; and Western Australians spent $502 monthly.

Gen Y spending twice as much as Baby Boomers

Different demographics also saw marked differences in how much money was spent on work-related costs. ING Direct found that Gen Y Australians spent more than twice as much as Baby Boomers on work expenses, parting with an average of $794/month compared to just $320 for their older counterparts.

This significant spend by young Australians accounts for a hefty 11.4% of the average Australian wage, suggesting that being thriftier with everyday expenses could save Gen Y workers a significant amount of money. (After all, some Gen Yers are buying homes and investment properties by forgoing the usual luxuries.)

A prime example of this was coffees – millennials spent nearly $100 on coffees and other caffeinated drinks every month, while older Australians spent less than half that much.

“By being aware of how these costs can add up and taking proactive measures to switch habits, Australians can ensure they save more of their hard-earned cash for themselves rather than spending it on actually going to work,” Mr Arnott said.

“For example, use public transport to avoid tolls and parking costs, or strategically shop for work attire by hitting the shops in the sales. Simple switches can make a big difference to your bank balance each month.”

It may not help you buy a house, but reviewing their daily spending habits before work could save young Australians plenty of cash each month – maybe even enough for the occasional smashed avo.


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