We work hard for our money – but how much does your work itself cost you? Expenses like work attire, eating out, transportation, and morning coffee can eat away at that hard-earned paycheck. Make sure you’re not sabotaging your paycheck, and check out these tips to decrease your work expenses and increase savings for your personal life:
Affordable Work Attire
If you’re fresh out of college, or transitioning from a casual work environment to a more professional one, building the necessary work wardrobe can cost quite a hefty sum. To cut back on costs, invest in a few staple pieces, like suits and shoes. Although they can be expensive, high-quality garments that you will wear everyday are good investments. A pair of $100 shoes that will look nice for a few years are a better investment than a $20 pair that will fall apart in a month. Once you have a good pair of shoes and a nice suit or dress, you can fill out your wardrobe with less expensive shirts, sweaters, ties, and other accessories.
Online there are a handful of clearinghouses and stores selling discounted professional clothes. Shop around online and compare prices before making a decision. If you prefer to try things on first, go shopping beforehand, and take down the names of pieces you like. Then, go home and search for these items on Amazon and Google, and see if you can find a better deal. Chances are you can!
While you’re on the Internet, make sure to check out sites like eBay and Craigslist for steals on professional attire. Many people post brand new and gently used garments, from shoes to ties to suits. There are a lot of high-quality, designer pieces that sell for less than half the price you would find in retail stores.
If online shopping isn’t for you, great places to find steals are thrift stores and consignment stores. These places can be really hit or miss; to increase your chances of finding a treasure, it’s a good idea to drop by every few weeks to scope out the new donations.
Building up a solid professional wardrobe without breaking the bank takes time and diligence, but stick to these habits and you will be on the right track.
Bring Your Lunch
Going out for meals adds up fast! Save up to $50 a week by skipping out on restaurant meals and bringing more affordable lunches from home instead.
Re-purpose leftovers from the night before; it’s a great way to have a delicious meal awaiting you at lunchtime, and also keeps you from letting food go to waste. Plus, bringing leftovers will save you time in the morning because they take no preparation: just pack them up in Tupperware, and then pop them in the office microwave at lunchtime.
Since food is much cheaper in bulk, buy big bags of things like nuts, dried fruit, trail-mix, baby carrots, crackers, and other snacks. To make things convenient, every Sunday make five plastic baggies of each of the different foods, one for each day of the week. On weekday mornings, all you’ll have to do for a full lunch is make a sandwich or grab some leftovers to add to your pre-made baggies of lunch snacks.
Carpool, Bike, or Take Public Transit
Driving to work seems so obvious and necessary, but we often forget that it is a luxury. Paying for gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking add up quickly. Before you settle on driving, explore every option you have for transportation.
Have you ever really sat down and calculated out how much money you would save by biking or taking public transit to work? You may be surprised.
Sometimes there’s just no way around the need to drive to work. In this situation, find coworkers who live near you to share the ride and split the cost of gas. Being able to use the carpool lane will save you time, too.
Drink Free Coffee
If you forgo the daily stop at Starbucks, you could be looking at over $1,000 savings a year. Spending $5 a day on coffee, 5 days a week, for 45 weeks would cost you $1,125. Instead, drink the free coffee in your workplace. If you prefer something a little fancier, buy a flavored creamer and leave it in the work fridge to use every morning.
Another more affordable option is to buy a box of your favorite tea. Buying one box of 28 Bigelow Green Tea bags costs about $2.75. That’s only $.10 a cup! Plus, tea bags can be re-used for two or three cups. That brings each drink down to less than $.04 a cup.
With a little careful planning and extra research, you can easily trim workplace costs in order to make the most out of each paycheck.