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Six Ways to Save Money at Work

Written by Ed Avis - 12 Comments

Six Ways to Save Money at Work

You probably think of work as a place to earn money, but you also spend a lot of money because of work — on clothes, food, transportation, and other items. If you’re not careful, your earnings can take a hit from these expenses. Here are six ways to trim the expenses related to the workplace:

1. Food

Needless to say, bringing your own lunch is probably going to be a lot less expensive than buying lunch at work. But don’t forget snacks and drinks — you may be dumping $5 or $6 per day in the snack machines to buy things that wouldn’t cost half that much if you bought them at the grocery store grocery store and brought them to work.

If you buy a drink at a fast food place that offers free or reduced price refills, take advantage before you head back to work. Same goes for coffee — Starbucks, for example, offers 50 cent refills.

2. Transportation

As transportation expenses are entirely dependent on your geography, it’s hard to offer money-saving tips that apply to everyone, but here are a few that may apply to you. If you have to drive to work, you’ve already considered carpooling, right? That’s a gimme. If you don’t have an obvious carpool in your area, consider one of the many carpooling websites, such as www.carpoolconnect.com, carpoolworld.com, or erideshare.com. Or post a notice about carpooling in your breakroom.

Depending where you live, public transportation might be a good deal. If it is, make it even less expensive by asking your HR department to establish a program that deducts your public transportation expenses pre-tax.

3. Clothing

One of the biggest regular expenses every employee has is clothing. Whether the dress code is sloppy casual or business formal, your wallet is lighter because you want — or need — to fit in. Here are some tips to cut your clothing budget:

a) Keep a little clothing maintenance kit in your office so you don’t need to visit the one-hour cleaner if you have a problem — include needle and thread, a lint roller, Febreze (or the generic equivalent), Static Guard, a stain stick, and a little bottle of laundry detergent;

b) Don’t wear your dress shoes on the way to work — instead leave them under your desk and change when you get to the office, so they stay clean and less worn;

c) Keep a set of spare work clothes in your office, and make sure they are at the top of your dress code; that way if you forget about an important meeting that requires a tie or a nice blouse, you won’t have to run out and buy one.

4. Parties, celebrations

Even the most staid workplace occasionally has a party, and usually every employee is expected to bring something. Skip the pricey stuff and offer to bring paper plates, cups, or utensils. You’ll spend $3 to $4 on these items while your coworkers spend $10 to $20 on fancy fruit salads, chili, dips, or packaged treats… But you’ll still get full credit for doing your part.

5. Donations

Many employers ask their workers to chip in a few bucks for charity or for an employee with a special need. Trying to save money in these situations can be a tough proposition — if the donation is for a coworker in need, don’t skimp. But if the request is for a charity , especially one you’re not particularly partial to, you can maintain your dignity by making the minimum donation. Sometimes donations can be made online in private, which is a great option to keep the exact level of your generosity secret.

6. Travel

If you travel for work , there are plenty of money-saving opportunities. Three to consider:

a) When you’re filling out your expense report, don’t forget the little things like tips, airport snacks, and money you put into parking meters — these can add up quickly;

b) If you drive to the airport, claim that mileage and parking on your expense report — if your spouse gave you a ride, that counts, too;

c) If you want to buy souvenirs for the kids, consider the free trinkets you can pick up on the tradeshow floor, samples from clients or vendors you’ve visited, or take-aways from the hotel (the soap, shampoo, stationery, etc.).

Hopefully your job is bringing in way more cash than it’s costing you, but add a few dollars to your personal bottom line each week by following some of these tips.

Published on February 23rd, 2012
Modified on February 25th, 2012 - 12 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is a writer and editor in Oak Park, Illinois. He specializes in personal finance, parenting, and small business topics. He is married and has two sons.

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12 Responses to “Six Ways to Save Money at Work”

  1. 1
    Modest Money Says:

    These are a lot of good ways to save money at work. It is easy to spend a lot of money on various work expenses. For me transportation and food are the biggest ones. I get lazy bringing packed lunches and end up getting fast food far too often. I think it helps a lot to try to make extra dinner so that you can bring leftovers for lunch without extra preparation. For the drive to work, you could also get a cash back credit card that gives extra cash back on gas. If your commute is pretty long, that savings can add up a lot.

  2. 2
    Squeezer Says:

    “a little bottle of laundry detergent;”

    LOL, am I going to wash my pants in the bathroom sink?

  3. 3
    Thad P @ thadthoughts.com Says:

    I have become a firm believer in bringing my lunch to work. I see people spending $8 or more dollars a day for lunch. Crazy.

  4. 4
    Melissa@LittleHouseintheValley Says:

    Not to sound like Scrooge, but the office donations used to drive me crazy. Working at home definitely has its benefits.

  5. 5
    Nancy Says:

    It is essential if you are serious about being a long term money saver and being able to save money every day. Review what you spend and look at ways you can save money. Consider making telephone calls for instance only at off-peak times.

  6. 6
    Will @ HackingTheBank Says:

    Great advice. Your Money or Your Life really opened my eyes to the additional costs of working, and what we’re really making. My biggest money saver over others has always been bringing a lunch, and being very frugal with work clothes. I have five pairs of pants that I purchased from Kohl’s on sale. I then have five collared shirts, which I purchased from Costco. The pants and shirts are all iron-free, so I don’t feel the need to ever paid for dry cleaning and I don’t waste my time ironing. A pair of shoes for work typically lasts me about 9 months and costs $75.

  7. 7
    Drew C. Says:

    Great article. I always pack my lunch…otherwise you end up spending hundreds of dollars each month on food. By just packing a lunch I figured I save about $2,000 dollars a year!

  8. 8
    Angelique Says:

    I’m really bad at keeping track of my travel expenses. I’m pretty good about restaurant receipts, but beyond that – taxis, tips, mileage, and parking are often lost or forgotten entirely and since I’m on the go a lot, I’m sure this really ads up. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. 9
    photomiser Says:

    In case I forget my lunch or just don’t have time to pack one, I keep a backup at work that won’t spoil, e.g. canned soup or fruit, instant noodles, etc.

  10. 10
    Severi Rantanen Says:

    One thing I do often to save money, is hide the debit card. I only carry it when I know I will need to buy something that day, such as gasoline. I was amazed at how much money I saved on the little $2-4 purchases I make mindlessly throughout my day.

  11. 11
    Joe Morgan Says:

    I would bet that lunch is the biggest expense for most people. It amazes me how many of my coworkers through the years would go out to lunch every day of the week. Besides being expensive, it’s typically not very healthy either…

  12. 12
    Mary Says:

    Those are all great ideas! Another great carpooling website for those in the SF Bay Area is http://www.socoride.com, check it out!

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