We’ve all heard the old adage: “you have to spend money to make money.” But when you add up the gas money for your commute, your mid-morning Starbucks run, and wardrobe expenses, sometimes having a job and getting through the workday can be an expense in its own right.
But while it may not seem like it, saving money at work can be easy, and if you play your cards right, can even strengthen your work relationships and build office morale. Here’s how.
Start an Office Potluck Club
Everyone knows one of the easiest ways to save money at work is to prepare and bring your own lunch. But after endless weeks of PB&J and tuna fish sandwiches, it’s easy to throw in the towel and head out for something that’s hot, satisfying, and probably expensive.
Why not kill two birds with one stone and start an office lunch club, Like the popular dinner clubs that have sprung up around the country, you and any interested co-workers would sign up to prepare lunch on different days throughout the week. On your day, you’re responsible for making enough food for everyone in the group. The trade-off is that get a free, freshly-prepared meal the other four days of the week! In addition to saving yourself some serious lunch money, it’s a great way to take a break from the grind and get some face time with your teammates.
Channel the Power of Groupon
Office happy hours and off-site parties are important for celebrating company milestones, strengthening employee relationships and building team morale. But in difficult economies like these, the cost of these outings can add up fast. Rather than asking employees to shell out extra cash or canceling these events altogether, channel the power of Groupon for your office events. []
Groupon posts different deals throughout the day-many of which are for restaurants, lounges, pubs and other social places-which you and your co-workers can buy into as a group. They key to accessing Groupon’s savings (which range from 50 to 90 percent) is to get a group of people to buy into the deal, making their offers perfect for office teams.
Organize a Wardrobe Exchange Party
Let’s face it: maintaining a business wardrobe can get expensive. And no matter how carefully you care for clothes, sooner or later they need updating. But the next time you need a new skirt or skirt, don’t pull out that credit card. Plan a wardrobe exchange party instead.
Wardrobe exchange parties work like this: you invite co-workers, friends, and family members to a locale of your choice. Everyone is asked to bring a few gently-used clothing items (like that Banana Republic turtleneck that was too small for you, but it was on sale so you bought it anyways). Guests then get to try on others items and a select a few that work. You get to clean out your closet, get a few new items, and save money. It’s a win-win all around.
Start a Pet Peeve Penny Jar
Is there a common office pet peeve that you and your co-workers joke about, Does everyone laugh when Bob takes the last of the coffee again or Suzy jams the copy machine for the 50th time, Start an office “pet peeve” jar. Similar to a “swearing jar,” employees are asked to put $1 in the jar every time they commit a particular offense. When it’s full, use the funds to treat the entire office to pizza or lattes.
Buy in Bulk
Everyone needs little pick-me-ups to get through the day. But these extras – a coffee here, a granola bar there – can add up fast, especially when you’re buying them on impulse at the pricey drug store across the street.
If you need these little extras to get you through the day, find co-workers with the same tastes as you and buy in bulk from Sam’s Club or Costco. Sure, a 50 pound bag of coffee might go stale before you use it all, but if you all contribute and divvy it up accordingly, you’ll have enough to last you for several weeks. And with lattes at Starbucks costing approximately $3 a pop, buying in bulk can save you some serious cash.