Here’s an important PSA: Money should only flow into your bank account during your workday. I know, I know, we all slip up sometimes with this, but below are some tips to help you save money at work.
Make Your Own Coffee
This is a no-brainer: stop buying coffee on the way to work. You know the math—$3 times 5 days times 52 weeks is $780 per year. No matter how much you spend on a new coffee maker or coffee beans for your home, it’s almost always going to be cheaper than getting premade coffee from Dunkin or Starbucks.
Watch your Breakfast and Snacks
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day— and not just for your nutrition. Studies show that people tend to be more impulsive and exhibit less control when hungry, which means you’ll be more likely to splurge on lunch if you skip breakfast.
I keep a canister of oatmeal at my desk for breakfast (cheaper than single serve packets) and mix some brown sugar and raisins into it. I also bring snacks like Greek yogurt and string cheese so I don’t end up at the vending machine later on in the day.
Pack Your Lunch and Have a Plan B
It happens to all of us frugal folk; no matter how much meal prep we do, there will always be days when we forget to bring our lunch. Noon will come around and you’ll realize that, oops, your Tupperware of homemade lasagna is still sitting on your counter at home.
It’s easy to use this as an excuse to go out to eat. You don’t forget your lunch that often and you’re frugal the rest of the time, so why not treat yourself?
This is the exact opposite way to approach this. Why would you reward yourself for a mistake by throwing away money on takeout? Instead, leave a few nonperishable lunches at work, like Ramen or canned soup, so you have no excuse to go out when you slip up.
Don’t Buy Things from Fundraisers
Yes, we all really like girl scout cookies, frozen pies, candles, and colorful storage bags, but you need to stop buying them from your coworkers and their kids. It’s not obligatory to contribute to someone’s fundraiser or MLM scheme, and you probably weren’t planning to buy any of those items before you saw the fundraising form on the fridge.
If you’d like to donate money to a good cause, research the charity and make a strategic donation. If you need a new purse or leggings, you can probably get them cheaper from somewhere that’s not Thirty-One or LuLaRoe.
If your coworker pesters you about it, just say that you’re trying to be better about your money and that leggings/candles/frozen pies aren’t in your budget right now.
You Don’t Have to Give Money for Special Occasions
This is definitely the hardest one for me. Sometimes you’ll be asked to contribute $20 to a Target gift card for Susan’s new baby, but you’ve only talked to Susan like three times (if you don’t include her passive aggressive emails), and you really don’t want to give her anything. Although it can be hard and possibly awkward, just say “I’m sorry, I can’t contribute right now. It’s not in my budget.” Now, don’t get me wrong, you can contribute money if it’s someone you really like, but you should never feel obligated to give.
When I was in HR and in charge of organizing these, I would send out a group email (that emphasized that donating was optional) and let people come to me with money if they wanted to. Everyone would still be allowed to sign the card regardless of whether or not they donated. This might not be the case in every work environment, so if someone’s giving you a hard time about not contributing, go to HR.
How do you save money at work? Leave your answers in the comments.