When budgets are tight and your expenses simply cannot get any lower, it may be tempting to pick up a second job to make ends meet. However, there are times when the extra net income may not be worth the time you spend moonlighting. There are several issues to consider when deciding whether to work a second job. (Maybe a second job is not the answer, maybe it's a new career. Check out these two options: Broker Or Trader: Which Career Is Right For You?)
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If taking on a second job will require you to pay someone to babysit your children, that cost must be factored in to your decision. For example, if your goal is to bring in an extra $1,000 a month with your new job, but you have to spend $350 on childcare, you are really only adding $650 to your budget every month. In some cases, it may not be worth your time to work a second job when you have to pay money to a babysitter.
Both the time and the cost of getting to and from your second job must also be factored in. If you spend one hour commuting each way for a low-paying job, you will have to decide if the total amount of time spent away from home - including commuting - is worth the extra income brought in. You must also factor in the monetary costs of getting to and from your new job. If you drive to the job, you will have to budget for extra gas, and the extra wear and tear on the vehicle. If you take public transportation, you must add up all of the costs of tickets, tokens or passes.
There are more costs to working a second job than those you put money out for. The opportunity cost of working represents what you have to give up in order to work. In other words, what would have been the difference if you had chosen your next best option? For example, you decide to take a second job for $10 an hour for a total of eight hours per week. The job's starting time is only an hour after you get off work from your main job, so you have to rush home, throw something together for dinner and rush off to the new job. One of the opportunity costs of working the job is that you no longer have time to make dinner from scratch. You must purchase pre-prepared meals that you can heat and eat. That can significantly increase your grocery budget and that becomes one of the opportunity costs of working the second job.
If the income from your second job pushes you into a higher tax bracket, you may end up either taking home less than you think or have a huge tax bill next April. If your new job pushes your taxable income over $34,500, for example, all of your income over that level will be taxed by the IRS at 25% rather than 15%, if you are filing as single. Tax considerations must be factored into the whole equation.
Interference with your main job
Many employers have policies against employee moonlighting, and often for good reason. Having two jobs can be difficult to juggle and your performance at your main place of work may suffer. If you are having trouble managing the hours or the effort it takes to have two jobs, consider quitting the second job. It is not worth putting your main source of income at risk.
The Bottom Line
Working a second job can bring more money in to help with expenses, but all of the costs of having that second job should be considered before a final decision is made. (It's not just your friends who can find your information - potential employers may visit as well. Check out 6 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes.)