The Frugal Employee

It’s back to work for me, which means expenses related to work.  In this economy, everyone is doing what they can to save money, but some people are taking frugality to the extremes, especially if you’re an employee in a shaky industry that has seen mass layoffs these past few years. Regardless of what the state of your job is right now, it’d be a good idea to hop aboard the frugal train with the following tips:

Alternative Ways of Commuting

According to this recent post by the New York Times, commuting by car can have a detrimental impact on our health (not to mention our finances). Apparently more than 75% of workers commute solo (in their own cars), while a measly 5% use public transportation and 0.6% ride their bikes to work. Although there are certainly risks involved—getting hit by a car being the predominant one—the health and economic benefits of finding alternative means of getting to work could outweigh the potential downsides. For instance, carpooling with a coworker has several advantages: split the cost of gas, less time spent in the driver’s seat, access to carpool lanes and parking spaces, and less wear and tear on your car (assuming you each have your own vehicles).

Brown-Bagging It

Another major expense for employees is lunch. Even if your office has a kitchen area with a microwave, refrigerator, sink, etc., it’s all too tempting to go out and buy something fresh, rather than waste valuable time packing a lunch before you head to work in the morning. However, these costs really start to add up, especially if you’re eating out everyday. Consider choosing one day per week to buy lunch from a fast food place or restaurant and bring your own lunch from home the other days of the week. This is also a useful way to save money on coffee (check out the Coffee Cost Calculator to see how much you can save by brewing it at home).

For additional savings on food, be sure to check out the latest supermarket promotions and look for coupons on sites like SumoCoupon.

Thrifty Business Attire

If your office requires formal business attire, shopping for even a modest workplace wardrobe could cost you a few hundred dollars. Instead of spending an arm and a leg on business clothes from well-known retail outlets, search around for deals and store promotions (with the holiday season upon us, this should be no problem). Unless you have a lot of interaction with your boss and/or clients, or you’re in a prominent management role, you probably don’t need top-of-the-line clothes (though splurging a little on one nice outfit might be worth it for those important occasions). Places like Ross, T.J. Maxx, and Nordstrom’s Rack offer a quality selection of clothes without the exorbitant prices charged by the top department stores.

Shopping at thrift stores also isn’t out of the question (you might even find some barely-worn items!), though it may be trickier to find clothes that are not only appropriate for the office but also fit you well.

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1 thought on “The Frugal Employee

  • I’m a big fan of thrift shopping for work clothing. My best piece of advice is to thrift in wealthy neighborhoods and avoid stores that do not pay for their merchandise (like Salvation Army). I have found killer designer clothes that are very well cared for (or still have tags on) for 80-90% off the actual store price.

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