Employment is a fact of life. You need to work to have money. However, there are bills and costs that come with having a full-time job that you wouldn't necessarily pay if you were unemployed. The average employee spends about $3,000 a year on costs associated with their job. But what are these expenses?

1. Transportation

First up, you have to get to the office. In 2015, the average American spends 26.4 minutes getting to work. About thirty minutes on the road both ways. Usually, this means owning a car and paying for gas to cover the distance. Sometimes, employees pay for parking too. Car payments, vehicle maintenance and insurance are other bills associated with car ownership. In a big city or more populated area, you have the option of public transit. This can be cheaper, but can also result in longer commute times.

2. Child or pet care

So what happens at the house while you're at work all day? If you have children and/or pets, covering daycare and pet care will be another expense. And child care is a big expense for many families. About one-third of American parents say that the cost of child care has caused a financial problem for their household. It can get quite pricey. But unless you have other arrangements with family or helpful neighbors, this cost pretty much unavoidable.

3. Food

Meal times are often a social hour. Lunch is no exception. Americans on average eat out for lunch twice a week, paying about $10 each time. That's $936 annually. You can pack your own lunch and bring it to the office. But sitting alone at your desk or elsewhere isn't quite the same as eating out with coworkers. Additionally, working or networking lunches can't always be avoided.

4. Clothing

A professional environment requires professional clothing. You certainly can't walk into work in jeans and a t-shirt — unless your office has a relaxed dress code. This means you'll have to buy a work wardrobe. The average family spends $1,700 on clothes each year. Additionally, you'll probably need to buy new outfits as fashion trends change to maintain your professional image. You can often buy more affordable clothing over luxury brands. But this is pretty much an unavoidable expense.

5. Pay-in benefits

With full-time employment often comes benefits — health insurance, retirement accounts, the works. These are perks of the job, but also come with their own costs. Insurance premiums are often worth it for the coverage provided. And paying into a 401k will set up your financial future, especially if your employer matches your contributions.

6. Travel or relocation

If your job requires travel, you'll probably get paid back for any expenses incurred. But waiting for that money to be returned can often be a hassle. Any personal expenses (usually food) incurred while traveling are often not reimbursed at all. Another hefty expense could be relocation. Let's say you're switching branches to work in a new city or starting a new job entirely. Not many employers these days will cover the cost of relocation. All those moving expenses have to come out of your pocket.

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Developing further skills can boost your career at any stage.

Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.

Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.

But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.

Tableau

Tableau's data visualization capabilities are comparable to Domo and Power BI.

Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.

Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.

More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.

Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.

Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.

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