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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.