The Cost of Being a Temp

People think that being a temp is just about a lack of job security. I’ve been at my current temp gig for almost a year and I could be fired tomorrow no questions, no consequences. While we’re paid less than every full time employee in the place, it’s also about the costs that you don’t see right away.

Public Transit – Since I live outside a major city, it’s vastly easier to use public transit rather than driving and parking. Most jobs will either give you a transit subsidy to offset costs or do a pretax deduction from your pay check. I get neither of these. My transit expenses are 100% on me. FTEs at my current place get $125 a month.

Health Insurance – Any job worth their salt in the U. S. offers some sort of healthcare plan they partially or completely pay for. While the staffing agency does offer the plan I’m currently on, it takes 6 months to be eligible, it’s around $150 a month, and it sucks. If I’m ever hospitalized, I’m not covered. Need a major test because an X-ray or ultrasound won’t do? Completely out of pocket. I got an MRI last spring and now have to pay $1750. My lack of coverage was made clear when I had a lawyer friend of mine check my plan for any loopholes.

Maintenance Medications – I’ve had a stomach condition since I was a teenager, need antidepressants to feel more like myself, don’t want kids, and mainline Zyrtec until the first frost when I cut back to 1 a day. This is pretty much the only thing my insurance is good for. Most of my friends don’t take multiple daily medications and those that do usually have better insurance than I do.

No paid time off – I’m going on vacation this month. I will be working on that vacation because otherwise I will have no income from that week. Am I sick? I hope I remember to bring my computer home because I don’t get any sick days either. Holidays? Ha! I have to be at a place for a year before I get half a dozen paid holidays.

Retirement – No 401K for me. No matching, no nothing. I had a 401K from my first full time job after college that matched my contributions. I stopped working there in 2013. While that 401K still exists, no contributions have been made toward my retirement in the last 3 years.

You hear about Americans living paycheck to paycheck. I am one of these Americans. I’m not proud of it but I don’t make enough money or have a desirable enough skill set to do anything else. I will likely have to put off having children because my current gig is the best employment situation I’ve ever been in since I graduated college.


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