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7 costs employees have to bear on a daily basis

Looking presentable at work means spending a fair bit on sprucing up your wardrobe.

Most people associate employment with the pay checks they receive at the end of every month. However, they hardly consider the amount they spend in the course of carrying out their jobs.

Truth is, there are significant costs that come with employment. Employees have bills and expenses that they would not necessarily have, if they were not in full time employment or if they worked in a freelance capacity from home.

Below are some of the hidden costs, you may not have considered when taking up employment.

1. Lunch, dinner, takeout and coffee

How many eat out for lunch? You could be spending RM20 per day for lunch, without blinking an eye. You may even spend an additional RM10 on coffee, if you are feeling groggy at work.

And after a long day at work, many are just too tired to cook so will order takeout instead. If you have some energy, you may go out for dinner.

However, the cost of buying these meals on a daily basis can eat into a large chunk of your salary. If you were to prepare all your meals at home, you’d save a significant amount in expenses.

2. Commuting to and from work

If you live within walking distance from your office, you’re lucky. Unfortunately, most people spend a significant amount of time and money commuting to work.

Some spend about RM220 a month on parking and approximately RM200 a month on petrol. They also spend about 1 hour and 30 minutes travelling to work, largely due to rush hour traffic.

There are also many indirect expenses incurred. The stop-start driving in traffic has led to an increased cost of repairs to their vehicles.

There is the option of using the LRT or MRT especially with the RM100 passes offered for unlimited travel in the Klang Valley.

However, using public transport may be inconvenient and time consuming, especially if you have to lug heavy items to and from work or if you do not live near an LRT or MRT station.

3. Professional wear

Working Malaysians have to spend on office wear. Your bosses expect you to look presentable at work. So you spend to improve your wardrobe with suits, shirts, and shoes.

Unfortunately, most employers do not pay a wardrobe allowance and therefore employees have to fork out their own money to look presentable.

4. Medical conditions down the line

Some jobs can be stressful and some people work gruelling hours. You may be sleep deprived, neglect to exercise or binge eat due to work commitments. Over time, this may lead to serious medical conditions such as depression and heart disease.

Let’s face it, healthcare in Malaysia (especially in the private sector) is incredibly expensive. While you won’t see the effects immediately, you may end up spending all your money paying medical bills.

Healthcare in Malaysia especially in the private sector can wipe out your savings, leaving you with practically nothing.

5. Services that make our lives easier

The less time you have, the more likely you’ll pay for services that make your life easier.

You may send your clothes for dry-cleaning, hire a maid, or buy your groceries from the most convenient grocery store instead of buying at the one that offers the best value for money.

6. Retirements, farewells, birthdays and office events

Workmate events, and workplace events are never ending in any large corporation. There is always a party for either retirement, a farewell or a birthday party where you have to fork out your money either directly, or indirectly.

Think about it. How many times have you been asked to contribute to somebody’s retirement gift? How many times have you paid for a Grab to attend an office party?

Of course you’re happy to contribute towards these events but ultimately, these expenses add up to a sizeable amount of money.

7. Taxes

Taxes are for the benefit of society, and it is a personal expense everyone has to bear. Whether you’re rich or poor, you pay taxes either directly or indirectly.

However, employees should realise that income derived from employment is taxed at a much higher rate than many forms of passive income.

You do not pay personal tax on the dividends you earn from stocks, but you are taxed a significant amount on your earned income.

Although for the greater good of society, the fact remains that taxes are still an added cost of working.


All these expenses combined add up to a significant amount of money which means that employees are in a sense paying to work.

Of course, some expenses are intangible and cannot be calculated such as future health conditions.

Unfortunately, unless, you can find other ways to earn a living without physically going to work, you will still have to bear most of these work-related expenses.

Therefore, the best you can do to minimise workplace expenditure. Forgo your RM10 coffee and instead make your own coffee in the office.

Instead of spending RM20 on lunch every day, spend RM10. Instead of ordering takeout for dinner, bulk cook your weekday dinners over the weekend.

This article first appeared in MyPF. Follow MyPF to simplify and grow your personal finances on Facebook and Instagram.

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