The obvious factors that affect your take-home pay for a job are 1. how much are you getting paid? and 2. how much is taken out for taxes?
But you’re not getting paid your after-tax wage per hour. It’s only per hour you are working, and doesn’t take into account commute time, lunch time, or what you have to spend on transportation, clothes, or food that you otherwise wouldn’t have spent had you not had a job.
For example, my current job pays $15 an hour. After taxes are taken out, it’s roughly $12 an hour (shoutout to Texas for not having a state income tax). So in an 8 hour day, I make $96 after taxes.
I have a one hour commute in the morning, a 30 minute lunch break, and an hour and a half commute back home in the evening. So my work day really takes up 11 hours. We’re down to $8.73 an hour (96 dollars/11 hours=8.27 dollars per hour).
Now thankfully my commute is always free, thanks to school giving full-time students free public transportation passes and me not owning a car. I also bring my own lunch, so food costs are the same as they would be if I was at home. That means my real hourly wage is right around that $8.73 number.
But let’s imagine that someone drives their car to work which they bought with a loan, and then buys fast food at lunch every day (which is not rare at all, even though it should be). Here’s their made-up stats:
Wage: $25 per hour. After taxes, let’s say $20, so $160 in an 8 hour day.
Commute: 1 hour one-way, 2 hours each day.
Lunch break: 1 hour
Car payment: $350 per month (national average new car payment is $500 *gags*)
Insurance: $100 per month
Gas: $50 per month (they have a really efficient car, good for them)
Lunch: $7 more per day than it would cost if they brought their own lunch. ($10 lunch vs. $3 lunch estimate)
LET’S DO SOME MATH!!
$500 per month transportation costs (car payment, insurance, gas)/20 working days per month= -$25 per working day
Lunch is -$7 per working day
So their real hourly wage is (160 – 25 – 7) dollars/11 hours = $11.63 per hour.
This hypothetical person is spending ALMOST HALF of their after-tax money on the job itself. Since we know that money is simply a derivative of time, this means that the first half of their workday is essentially unpaid and wasted time.
Move closer to work, bring a lunch from home, take public transportation, bike, or walk if you can. Smile, and enjoy the raise you just gave yourself. #MoneyGoals
(Pictured: Extra ridiculous traffic during rush hour. Plano, Texas)