Let’s cut to the chase: employment costs sometimes costs us money. Those who are employed understand it far too well: inevitable costs arise when a job is earned. Finances are needed to transport workers to and from work sites, to sustain their energy during the day, socialize with coworkers, and pay for the cost of gasoline and various types of insurance throughout the daily activity. The employed are regularly faced with the reminder that simply having a job requires a basic level of investment, and so working classes at all levels constantly think about how to cut corners, while still investing in their futures.
- Food & Clothing
- Office Etiquette & Politics
As far as transportation goes, driving alone to work round trip is the least cost effective way to travel. Workers are putting all sorts of miles on a vehicle and incurring extra costs for repairs while simultaneously spending money on gas. The logical alternative to this method is to try to find other people you work with who live near you and to organize a carpool system. While it might not be the most convenient option, it will save everyone money in the long run by reducing gas costs, toll costs, and car wears. Another solution to driving solo is utilizing public transportation. If you can get a bus or train pass in your area, this method is often the most cost effective way to travel, especially since workers can usually get an all access pass for around $100.
Even though tax season just passed, it is still important to think about the types of things you can deduct as an employee in order to minimize the expense of having a job. Practically anything that is related to your work is deductible, so remember to keep all of your business expenses organized in so that you might file your tax return more efficiently. Some of these deductions can include: receipts for a lunch with coworkers, transportation money, phone bills, and anything else that is not covered by the company. (Check with an accountant regarding your specific situation.)
Many people are unaware of beneficial programs that their company might run which will subsidize certain expenditures made by its employees. If you do not receive direct health insurance from your job, it is possible that the business will subsidize the money you spend on insurance independently. Many businesses will also match payments that their employees make to 401(k) programs. Some jobs will even be so gracious as to match charitable donations made by their employees. These sorts of programs can really forge strong relationships between employer and employee, a non-monetary benefit that might pay off in other ways in the long term!
Being modest and practical is the best way to save money. Try to spend as little money on expensive lunches and late office snacks as possible. Instead, pack your own lunch and snack. Office lunches are usually a great time to bond and network, but this can easily drain your finances. Try limiting your outings to once or twice a week, and be sensible when your order. Likewise, office attire is often overlooked when we do our yearly accounting, but don’t forget that you can still look good without breaking the bank. End-of-season sales are ideal to flesh out the wardrobe. Similarly, men can always find great ties and jackets and women can find shoes and other accessories at local thrift stores or consignment shops, so don’t forget to save big on the little things.
It’s not uncommon for coworkers to promote fundraising for their kids or hobbies (e.g. raffle tickets, Girl Scout cookies, etc.). While this investment may seem harmless enough, it still adds up. Remember, there is no shame in adhering to a budget. If you have to pass on these, feel free to do so—most people understand that money is tight.
Initially, many of these suggestions may seem petty or inconsequential, but over time, the aggregate costs become significant. By using a combination of these methods, it is simple to reduce the amount of money a job can drains from its workers, and to increase the amount it gives back.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save money and better analyze investments.
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