One of the expenses that many times go unnoticed is what we spend at our workplace. Depending on the kind of job you have you may have to comply with a specific dress code or look, that demands a lot from your budget. Also, the more people you work with the more opportunities you will have for birthday celebrations, secret Santas, Halloween boo’s, Go-Fund-me’s, baby showers, retirement rendezvous and an endless plethora of reasons to potluck.
I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer but I just can’t figure out how people can afford the congo-line of celebrations. Seriously! One thing is someone having a heart attack and you along with some co-workers lend a hand to the family to cover bills with a Go-Fund-Me or throw a baby shower here and there, but holy cow can it get expensive!
I must look like the biggest jerk, but some time ago I decided to be very selective with my contributions at work. Boss’s day was the first one to go. I am sorry, that’s like the biggest brown-nosing celebration. Why would I spend money on someone who says hi when she/he feels like and makes 3 times more than me?
Baby showers, I am sorry but they are also very particular. Usually is young people, recently hired at your workplace, you really haven’t even talked much to the person and you are asked to contribute for a shower. The same goes for weddings! Why do we have to be gifting for weddings too if we are not even invited?
Folks, it gets expensive! When it comes to holiday cards and a simple $2.50 card can do…No! We have to go for the $10 card with freaking music and lights or it is just not good enough.
I can easily spend over $1000 a year in cards, flowers, pumpkin day, tomato day, go-fund-me’s, showers, weddings, school fundraisers, meal trains, adopt a family for Christmas, coat drives, food drives and many more. Simply, I can’t. I am all about giving, but I do think that we need to conquer our finances before we can help others. Furthermore, I believe that helping doesn’t have to come in the form of money. Help, can be in the form of guidance to others, listening, caring for others or simply having a genuine relationship with someone that goes beyond Hallmark cards.
Then, there is also the social pressure of the attire for work. In that regard, I think women have it worse than men. It seems like women feel more compelled to dress up and look the best possible at work. As a guy, I watch in awe how some of my co-workers talk about just running into great sales and simply buying something because a deal is just too good to pass. Well, in my experience when a deal is too good to pass, it is worth it waiting it out and think it over. Most likely it is actually too good to be true and consequently, it’s better to let it pass. As far as sales go… the best sale is the one you just don’t buy; great savings that way.
I firmly believe that in order to eliminate some of the expenses at work you must look at your job as a business. Your job should be an extension of your responsibility as CFO of your money. It makes no sense to go to work for $100 a day if you have to dress up in $100 outfit. Or if you must have enough outfits so people don’t notice that you are wearing them more than once; who cares? You shouldn’t.
If you wear $100 outfits every day, go to work on a 30K ride that conveniently you switch every 7 years, join every potluck and celebration at work, pay for daycare for 1 or two kids, pick up your coffee at the drive-thru, buy lunch and take another coffee for the commute home I just can’t imagine what is left of your paycheck! Debt?
Even if you have a nice six-figure salary to cover all this, you are simply throwing money away that could certainly buy you years or early retirement. No question about it.
On my end, I try to look professional and clean. With that said, I own about 3 pairs of work pants that I use through the whole year; each one about $15 a piece. Sometimes, I wear the same pair of pants through the week. All I do with those pants is go to work and come back home. Once at home I jump into my shorts, sweatpants or jeans. I absolutely do not care if people talk about me wearing the same pants. I do change my underwear on daily basis in case you are wondering and shower daily; so no concerns there.
I also have a collection of about 10 shirts that I use regularly, where some of them are as old as ten years old but still look nice. Every year when we go on our summer vacation I hit a store in the town where we camp and buy a few shirts for about $10 a piece.
I estimate that my yearly clothing expenditure orbits around $150. Depending if I need shoes or not. I try to buy shoes for under $60 and they must be built to last at least 2 years.
To illustrate my point I wanted to make a comparison between what I save going to work compare with a typical co-worker.
|Itemized expenses||Go with the flow & spend as you go yearly expense||Small Budget mindful worker yearly expense|
|Boss’s day contribution||$10.00||$0.00|
|Meal train for someone sick||$10.00||$0.00|
|Potlucks( Fall, winter, spring)||$30.00||$0.00|
|Clothes $50 a month, being conservative||$600.00||$150.00|
|Coffee (2)x(5 days)x(4 weeks)x(12 months)||$2,160.00||$0.00|
|Gas, a small car using a tank a week for $25×52 weeks||$1,300.00||$1,300.00|
|Lunch (5 days=50)x(4 weeks)x(12 months) $10 ea||$2,400.00||$0.00|
|Plus 2 $10 contributions for the year|
The $636 for car payment comes from my calculation, based on our last purchase of a used minivan for $2,000. For gas, I am using the same amount for both scenarios. However, my proximity to work allows me to get almost two weeks out of one tank. Likewise, I do work with people whose commute is 40 minutes for 20-25 miles away; bad choice for the budget.
Another item that I am completely low balling is clothing. I constantly hear coworkers talking about the clothes they buy, and for sure they brake the $50 mark.
All these things are critical in order to save money and fund investments properly. I firmly believe that if I go to work and I am being paid for what I do, it is a must to make money; as much as I can. In order to increase earning I have to options. I can either get paid more or reduce my expenses to maximize my earnings. Ideally, I would do both.
Someone recently told me, “but you are a teacher, isn’t it all about the kids?” To which I responded, ” I give everything of me when I am at work, and enjoy very much my job, but I go to work for money.” Don’t you?
I would love to hear other people’s opinions on the subject and how you handle expenses at work.