Adjust Text Size

Six Ways to Save Money at Work

Written by Ed Avis - 12 Comments

Bank Deal: Earn 1.00% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.

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,, or 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 - 12 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. 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.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 24th 2012 @ 11:10 am
  2. “a little bottle of laundry detergent;”

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

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 24th 2012 @ 3:53 pm
  3. 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.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 24th 2012 @ 6:22 pm
  4. Not to sound like Scrooge, but the office donations used to drive me crazy. Working at home definitely has its benefits.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 25th 2012 @ 2:02 pm
  5. 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.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 28th 2012 @ 7:37 am
  6. 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.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 28th 2012 @ 10:28 am
  7. 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!

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 29th 2012 @ 1:40 pm
  8. 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!

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 29th 2012 @ 7:04 pm
  9. 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.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 1st 2012 @ 2:16 pm
  10. 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.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 9th 2012 @ 1:19 am
  11. 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…

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2012 @ 11:57 am
  12. Those are all great ideas! Another great carpooling website for those in the SF Bay Area is, check it out!

    Comment by Anonymous — Sep 21st 2012 @ 7:52 pm

Leave a comment

Because rates and offers from advertisers shown on this website change frequently, please visit referenced sites for current information. This website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise.