Can You Afford A Job?

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While new jobs are being created every month, they are not the mid-management, mid-wage jobs that were lost in the recession. According to U.S. News Money, 60% of jobs lost were in the mid-range, paying between $13.53 and $20.66 per hour. The number of jobs in that pay range rose only 1.2% between 2010 and 2011, while jobs paying $7.25 to 13.52 per hour rose 3.2%. Chances are if you lost a middle management or supervisory position in the recession your choice of a new job may be at a lower skill level and lower pay.

While not many people would choose to remain unemployed and “on the dole,” collecting unemployment for 99 weeks, you have to work the numbers before you decide to take a new position. A mid-level job paying $13.53 an hour would bring in an annual salary of $28,142. Georgia’s maximum monthly unemployment compensation benefit of $320 would provide a gross annual benefit of $16,600 while a new low-paying job pays between $15,080 and $28,121.

Taking a job at a lower salary or responsibility level than what you want may start bringing in some money, but can you afford it? 

Consider the following before you sign that offer letter:

1.    How much of that new salary will hit your bank account? Get a complete list of all payroll deductions to get a clear picture of what your take-home pay will be. Tax codes and rates can vary widely from state to state. Insurance premiums, 401k contributions, uniform charges and other costs can take a bite out of that already lower salary. You may find that the job won’t provide enough to pay the bills.
2.    Will you be able to continue to enjoy family vacations or other leisure activities? You may have to trim expenses, but if it means cutting out ballet lessons, your son’s soccer team, your gym membership or the annual family reunion trip, the cost may not be dollars as much as the loss of family traditions.
3.    When you increase commute time, gas consumption goes up and so do the bills. If you used to take public transportation and the job is no longer on the bus or train route, can you afford a car and the gas and maintenance to keep it going? All these costs shrink your paycheck.
4.    Time is money, and sometimes it is more valuable. A longer commute, increased responsibility and a change in work schedules can take valuable time away from family and friends. You may have to switch your daily schedule to accommodate your work hours, impacting after the kids’ school or work activities and weekend routines.

Count the cost—in time and money—of that new job. Taking a job that barely pays the bills or disrupts the entire family may not be worth it. You can end up resenting the job when you are really angry with yourself for jumping on the first job offered. Consider all the costs, and you’ll end up making a better decision for you and your family.

Have you ever taken a job and regretted it? Share your experience in the Comments section below.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, SupervisionBiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and helping clients reinvent their careers for today’s job market. You can read more of her blogs at and view additional job postings on


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