So you already pack your lunch and you've cut back on that latte habit. You still have to get dressed every day, get to work and stay there all day long, and that means you're most likely spending a few dollars here and there. How can you cut back even more? Here are ten suggestions you probably haven't heard a thousand times before:
You want to update your wardrobe, but don't want to spend any cash. What do to? Trade. There are surely plenty of items in your closet that are perfectly fine, but maybe they don't fit right at the moment or you are simply bored with them. So fix up a little swap party with your pals. Everyone can bring some mix-and-match items to the party and you can try things on and swap. Then, if you have buyer's (or seller's) remorse, all it will take is a phone call to set things right.
You may not work for a company like Google, which supplies full meals and snacks to its employees, but it's likely that your company supplies items like milk, sugar, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Just think of the possibilities! Add a container of oatmeal or grits to your cubicle stash, and you've got a hearty, filling snack for just pennies. Heck, you can even spring for a 39-cent box of instant pudding and have an afternoon snack (or four). Or you can go a little gourmet if you bring in a few ingredients from home and make a steamed chocolate pudding in the microwave.
Next time you head to a warehouse club, try carpooling it. Or, at the very least, start a shopping list with your co-workers and each decide on an item to bring in to share with the group. It works for daycare centers and kindergartens, why not offices? If you have a little pantry space, it won't be as irksome as it sounds to be the "snack mom" for a day (or whatever you want to call yourself). But it would save you a bundle to invest $4.50 or so for a giant jar of animal crackers to share with your cubicle pals, rather than shell out 60 cents every time you have a craving. If you have office-mates who are good bakers, you could also make out like a bandit (just watch your intake – snacks you don't have to pay for still have calories).
Don't Beg, Borrow
If you need to do some work at home, or you want to upgrade your home office equipment, ask your tech department if they have any old stuff hanging around that you can borrow (at buy at a discount). Some companies have programs designed to do this, others have informal systems.
Work Your Abs All Day Long
You might be clinging to your gym membership as a lifeline to health, but there are plenty of ways to exercise for free. Take a long walk during the day, for one thing. Jump rope. Take a jog. And if you want to skip that abs workout, use an exercise ball as your chair. This trend hasn't exactly caught on yet, so you may get a few silly comments, but people will stop making fun when they see your results. A large ball is about the same height as an office chair, and sitting on it as such requires you to sit straight and not slouch, which is great for your back. You also get an all-day abs workout that just can't be duplicated any other way. I started doing this when I was pregnant and had back issues and became a true convert.
Drive Anywhere for Cheap Gas
As gas prices have dropped since their summer highs, maybe the cost of filling your tank has fallen off your radar. But the precipitous drop – down nearly 60 days in a row at this writing – is exactly why you can save even more money with smart shopping. Prices are all over the place, and it's important to find the cheapest gas in your area. With prices going lower, it makes sense to drive a little out of your way to save a few pennies per gallon. Use an online service like Gasbuddy.com to find cheap pumps in your area.
Go Working Girl
Are new shoes your spending vice? You can save money by keeping your shoes from wear and tear. Pick your favorite shoes and keep them in your car or in your office, and only wear them inside while you are working. Keep a couple of pairs handy (depending on your outfit). When you are traveling two and from work, use a pair of non-essential or sturdy shoes. If you think you look weird in stocking and Uggs, just picture Melanie Griffith circa 1988 in your mind.
Just Don't Do It
Worried about your dry cleaning bill? Then skip it. Weed out items requiring dry cleaning from your daily use. It is possible. Think of all those womens' magazine features where you can see a designer item that costs $150 and a discount item that is nearly the same for $15. Which would you rather buy? And then just apply the theory to dry clean-only clothes. Just buy the version that you can wash by hand or on delicate. Nobody will know the difference. For men who must wear suits, wear as much as possible of your outfit that can be washed, and then wear your sport coat as little as possible.
Crunch Your Workweek
If your office will go for it, you could go to work early and leave late four days a week, and then you could possibly shave a day off your work-week and still work a traditional 40-hour week. As a bonus, you'd like be traveling at off-peak hours so you'd encounter less traffic and save on gas or public transportation fees. On your extra day off, you could save on gas, for one thing. But you could also run errands at less crowded times.
Pretend to Travel
If your job involves travel, both you and your company probably want to put some curbs on that in this economy. Even if you just need to drive around and meet with clients, that sort of thing can add up in gas costs and wear-and-tear on your car. There are ways to get around without getting around. Invest in a webcam or some video conferencing technology and you can have valuable face-time without having to leave the comfort (and financial security) of your own office.
What unusual ways are you cutting back? Share below.
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