Can you afford to go back to work? The hidden costs of going to work

Get back to work with the help of an unsecured personal loan from Loans 2 Go.

We are living in rapidly changing and confusing times. The pandemic may have led to you losing your job, being on furlough, or working from home for several months. Which means that you may now be in the position where you are either looking for a new job, are coming out of furlough perhaps to different working hours or conditions, or are being asked to go back into the office at least some of the time rather than working from home.

But if you are in any of these circumstances, the problem is that it may actually cost you money to go back to work. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that this can happen.


The hidden costs of going to work

  • Gap in being paid

If you are starting a new job you may find that there is a gap between your last payment for your old job (or from the furlough Job Retention Scheme) and your first payment from your new job.

  • Travelling to work

Whether you are travelling to attend interviews, or having to travel to work again, you will soon begin to remember just how much it all costs.

  • Clothes for work

If you have not been working during lockdown, or have been working from home, your wardrobe has probably adapted to your circumstances. But if you are now going for interviews or back into the office, you may need to update your working wardrobe.

  • Food and drink at work

When you get used to being at home it’s easy to forget that when you work outside the home you need to think about food and drink again. If you are not careful,  you can end up spending a small fortune just on surviving each day.

  • Child and pet care

If you have children and/or pets you may well need to make arrangements for them if you are now going to be working outside the home. This does not come cheap! 

So there are many areas where you will need to spend money in order to get yourself back to work. But if you are careful, you can find ways of overcoming the impact of this. 

We’ll now look at each of the above areas to see how you could save money.


Save money on going to work

  • Gap in being paid

If there is going to be a gap in your income because of a job change, this will be difficult but there are things you can do to manage the situation. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you have any savings that you can dip into? This is not ideal, but may be necessary to meet your short term needs. You can then begin saving again as soon as you are able.
  • Cut your spending down to the absolute bare minimum. Allow yourself essential spending only during this time. Look at as many ways to save money as possible: for example are there any memberships or subscriptions that you can either cancel or freeze, then pick them up again later if you want to? 
  • Another potential short term saving is to try and rearrange the dates of your direct debits. So for example, if you normally pay all your bills at the beginning of the month but are not going to be getting paid until later in the month, then contact the supplier to see if you can change your direct debit date to the end of the month instead.
  • Along the same kind of lines, see if you are in credit with any of your suppliers, for example gas or electricity or water. If so, you may be able to get a refund from them.
  • Also try to use any time in between jobs to make a bit of extra cash by decluttering your home and selling unwanted goods either online or locally. 
  • Call in favours. Family and close friends will probably offer to help anyway, but don’t be too proud to ask. Accept all offers of help, from people cooking meals or doing a bit of shopping for you, to perhaps a small loan to help you get by. Next time it could well be the other way round, and it will be you helping them.
  • On the topic of loans, another option might be to take out a small unsecured personal loan. This could provide you with immediate cash to meet your needs now, and you can then repay the loan as soon as you are in the position to do so. If this may be helpful to you then do get in touch with us at Loans 2 Go, as we offer unsecured personal loans of between £250 and £3,000.


  • Travelling to work

Travelling to work can be a huge expense. Pre-Covid it was estimated that the average monthly cost of commuting in the UK is in the region of £70, and obviously this is a lot higher if you are travelling into a city, particularly London. 

So some ways that you could try to cut your commuting costs are:

  • Ask if you can work remotely for some of the time. Even if you are starting a new job that is office-based, or being asked to return to the office, there may be some flexibility there.
  • Look into the option of season tickets. Some employers operate a season ticket loan to enable you to buy it up front with the costs then deducted from your pay each month.
  • If your commute is driveable, see if there are colleagues who live near you with whom you could set up a car share. If not, there are websites such as Lift Share and Bla Bla Car that can link you with people nearby. 


  • Clothes for work

If you need to adapt your wardrobe to fit your new work environment, don’t try to do too much at once as it will turn out to be incredibly expensive. It can be helpful anyway to give yourself time to settle into the job, and see what everyone else is wearing, then get a good idea of what kind of things you need.

The best thing to do is to keep it simple. We’ve all heard of the “capsule wardrobe”, but for work this can be really effective. Try and have a few good quality items that you can mix and match together so that you have a week’s worth of outfits without spending a small fortune.

For general help and advice about saving money on clothes, take a look at our recent article How to save money on clothes and fashion.


  • Food and drink for work

When starting a new job, the best thing to do is probably play it by ear for the first few days as to what people tend to do regarding food and drink. But you then need to decide what you want to do, and make sure that it fits within your budget. Bringing your own coffee and lunch from home most days is going to be a lot cheaper than always buying food once at work. 

Of course there will be times when you know you are all going out to lunch or for drinks after work, but it’s important to get into good economical habits early on so that you don’t just drift into spending lots of money every day on food and drink.


  • Child and pet care

If you have children and/or pets, you need to build the cost of looking after them into your work situation. So if you are looking for a new job, you need to look for as much flexibility as possible regarding starting and finishing times, and the possibility of working from home as needed.

If your working day still means that you need help with school drop off or pickup, or dog walking, then a good first option is to see if any friends or neighbours are able to help. You can either pay them for this, or come to an agreement where you repay the favour in some way: perhaps by doing the same for them on days when you’re available, or helping in some different ways at other times.

If you do need to look for a completely new childminder or pet sitter, do ask around and try to find someone through word of mouth. Someone you know that you can trust and who will also charge you fairly. 

But do look at costs carefully, as it may make more financial sense to take a different kind of job that perhaps pays less but has more flexible working hours so that you do not need to spend money on child or pet care.


We hope that the above ideas will help you to cope with the hidden costs of going back to work if you find yourself in this position. Good luck! And remember to check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Loans 2 Go.

*All figures and rates correct at time of writing