If you’ve been raising kids for the last ten or twenty years, you’ve been plenty busy but your focus has probably not been on the job marketplace. So let’s say that now you find yourself thinking about returning to work. It doesn’t really matter why—could be a good thing or a bad. Maybe the kids are headed off to college, or you’re getting a divorce, or you have a great idea for a business, or whatever—here are a few budget items that you should incorporate in your planning:
- The cost of a professional wardrobe. No, that’s not the funky but style-y stuff you and the kids have snapped up at the resale shop. If you’re returning to work, starting a business, or looking for a job you need to radiate confidence, and unfortunately for your pocketbook you need to look as good as people who are already successful in the desired job. You need to purchase enough outfits to (at least) get you through several interviews (and more as soon as you land the job). If you’re starting a business, you may be able to schlep in jeans while you’re working from home, but you need enough outfits to carry you through meetings and networking events—five, maybe? If you’re a woman, check out this blog to get lessons in some creative wardrobe combining.
- Deferred medical. While you’re busy hauling the kids in the family van to orthodonists, soccer and music lessons, my guess is you didn’t stop long enough at the doctor. If you need dental work, dermatology (you’d be amazed at what they can do), podiatry, or some de-stressing treatments, it’s legit. Get it done and you’ll be more ready to go out and slay dragons.
- The real costs of starting a business. Many people who return to the work force in their forties or fifties quickly reach the conclusion that they might make more starting a business than getting someone to hire them—especially if they can do consulting or some sort of professional service. If you’re going to manufacture some product, it’s going to require serious number crunching. But if you’re thinking of a “cheaper to start” professional or consulting service, there are some unlooked-for expenses there, too. Don’t forget the cost of ongoing professional education (mandatory in some fields for accreditation or maintaining licensing), professional membership organizations (can be thousands of $$), at least one professional conference a year (and travel to it), workshops, and networking organizations like Chambers of Commerce or networking associations.
- Computer equipment. If you’re starting the business, you’re going to need better than your teenager’s cast-offs. Also, software, a consultant to help you set it up, professional bookkeeping or bookkeeping software, reference materials, and file backup services.
- Professional services. Besides your computer repair guru, you’ll need an accountant, an attorney, and maybe a financial advisor, a career counselor, and a psychologist. These people all cost, but can save you tons of time and money spent on mistakes and the learning curve.
- Increased transportation. You may need another car. You may need to pay for parking. More gas. Even if you use public transportation, you may need a cab for late nights at the office. On the other hand, if you stop hauling the kids so much, this might actually go down, or you might be able to downsize the vehicle.
If you know of other expenses that came as a surprise, please do add them in the comments section below.
And…break a leg!