How to Save Money While at Work

Make Money and Save Money at Once!

Many of us are working for less money than we once would have in the past. In some cases, people are underemployed. In other cases, many people are doing the jobs laid off co-workers once did, as well as their own jobs. Still, there are plenty of people that haven't gotten a raise in years. In these difficult financial times, it is important to think of new ways to save money each day. I have come up with many strategic new ideas for saving money while you are working.

Of course, obviously you are going to make money while you are at work. However, you may not realize there are plenty of ways to save money while at work, too. Since you've got to be there anyway, why not give some of these methods a try?

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Charge Your Electronics

Just about every small electronic item in your home needs to be charged to work... laptops, Kindles, Nooks, MP3 players, cell phones, anything that starts with an "i"... they all take electricity. Do you ever use your laptop to do work? Do you ever make work-related calls on your cell phone? Do you take notes on your iPad during meetings? Since all of these activities are work-related, why shouldn't you charge your electronics while at work?

Instead of using your own electricity and paying a hefty bill each month, plug those electronics in at work and let them charge there. Of course, if your office has any policies against that type of thing, you obviously should not charge them at work. However, why not charge small electronic items at work if it is OK with your managers?

How many times have you walked by co-workers' desks to see them charging cell phones or iPads? Many times, managers see this activity and say nothing about it. If this is the type of work environment you experience at your job, it is time to save some electricity at home and charge small items at work. I am not saying to start charging your laptop you only have for personal use or your portable DVD at work, but smaller items should be fine as long as there are no rules against it.

Turn Off All Your Electronics Before Leaving for Work

Since you are going to work all day, there is no need to leave any electric items on in your home. Did you know some electronics use power even when they are turned off? Is there a remote control or a clock on it? If so, it is using electricity even when you aren't using it. Unplug it if you really want to conserve energy and save money. I have some appliances I only plug in when I am about to use them, such as my crockpot, television and cable box in my livingroom, and desktop computer monitor and speakers. You will see a bigger difference in your electric bill than you might think if you start doing that.

While we are on this subject, turn off all lights when you go to work. If you live by yourself, you might want to keep one light on in your home if you are getting in after dark. It is not worth saving a couple of bucks a month on that one light if you feel unsafe when you get home. Also, if at all possible, turn off the heat or the air conditioning while you are working. If it is really cold and you have pets or children at home, obviously you can't do that. If it is 50 degrees and no one is there, trust me, it is OK to leave the heat off all day under normal circumstances.

Get All the Free Food You Can!

If you work at a business that provides free food to its employees, make sure to take full advantage of it. Groceries cost a lot of money and you can save plenty of money by not buying as much food each visit.

If you work at a restaurant or grocery store, and there are any opportunities for free meals or free samples, take some! Even if you work at McDonald's and you are tired of eating hamburgers everyday, don't leave that free lunch behind. You can often make friends with other folks in the fast food business and make a trade. Be sure to befriend some folks at Pizza Hut or Subway. You can barter and trade for the best food! I once worked at a cupcake stand at the mall, and we used to make deals with the bubble tea kiosk workers and the pretzel cart workers all the time.

Perhaps you work at an office that provides free lunches during staff meetings. Sure, those staff meetings can be a real drag, but don't get too picky about the free food. Take some food for lunch and if there are leftovers, there is no shame in taking something home for dinner. I've been known to get a free lunch or two, plus a free dinner or two out of just one staff meeting. You just want to make sure you are sharing the food with any other co-workers that are all about taking advantage of free food, too.

If there are any other free food opportunities at work, by all means, don't pass up your chance for more free food. For instance, at my job we can drink as much free soda and coffee as we want while working. If you think I am going to Starbucks at any point during my work day when I can get a free Cinnamon Roll flavored coffee drink from the Keurig coffee maker, you are sadly mistaken. Don't pay for coffee if you can get halfway decent coffee at work!

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Use the Work Restroom

I know this is going to sound absolutely crazy, but I swear I save money on toilet paper just because I work full-time at an office. If I am out sick or taking a "staycation," I've noticed I use at least double the amount of toilet paper being home rather than being at work. If you think about it, since you are at work most of your waking hours (sad, but true!), you are using their facilities, toilet paper, water, and soap all the time.

Where am I going with all this? I know some of you out there are very anti-public toilet. This is understandable, I know. However, don't "hold it" until you get home. Why use your own toilet paper, water, and soap when you have every right to use the products provided at work? You might think all of this is just silly, but you can seriously cut down on buying toilet paper just simply by using the bathroom more at work. Considering how expensive toilet paper can be, don't give up on this idea. I would buy double or even triple the amount of toilet paper I currently use if I worked at home all day.

Take Advantage of Benefits

Many jobs offer some type of benefits, so learn what benefits the company offers and take advantage of them. For instance, if you have health insurance at my job, for just a few extra bucks a year, you can add eye insurance. For about ten extra dollars a year, you can add dental insurance. If you need to get new glasses each year or you are the type that visits the dentist like you should, then why not add these low-priced benefits? You'd be surprised how many people don't do the math and don't bother to add these small benefits when it could save them plenty of money later in the year.

If you are lucky enough to work at a company that offers a free gym membership or even has a gym in the building, why not give it a try? Why bother paying to go to your own gym when you can use their gym for free? If the job offers any type of workouts at all, look into it. If not, why not see if some co-workers are interested in joining you in putting together some type of walking or workout group? Many companies like offering extra benefits to new potential workers, and some managers would be more than happy if employees formed their own groups.

Are you going through a tough time at work or in your personal life? Did you know many companies offer a free service called the Employee Assistance Program? Make sure to look in your employee handbook to learn more about this program. The EAP hotline is a service that will recommend sources for financial services, counseling, legal assistance, or other help you may need in life. Many companies offer this along with health insurance and you may not even know it is available.

Make Sure to Use Office Supplies

For some reason, there are employees that will choose to bring their own supplies from home rather than use the supplies provided at work. I really do not know what motivates people to do this, but don't use your own money for work supplies if you don't need to do so.

If there are certain products your company has not given to you at work, but you need them for the job, make sure to let the office manager know. If you are still not given the right supplies, see if you can purchase them and then get reimbursed. If you work at a job that insists you purchase your own supplies, yet they never refund you, it might be time to look for a new job unless the pay makes it worth it.

Sometimes you might even get lucky enough to work at a job that will have a surplus of supplies, and if the office manager says you can have some of them for personal use, by all means, take them! If your office manager seems a little shady about the deal, then you probably don't need to take those supplies. Some office managers don't have the authority for things like that, but if they do, go for it!

Also, if some of the supplies become outdated in some way and you are allowed to take them, you should also take advantage of the situation. For instance, if your company gets a new logo, perhaps you will have the opportunity to take some of the outdated items with the logo on it. This can be great since old logos don't mean the pens or notebooks won't work just as well. Grab a mousepad if you get a chance, too. You can consider it retro!

Make Sure to Get Discounts

If you work in retail, you are likely able to get an employee discount. In addition to getting a discount at your own store, find out if you are able to get discounts at any other stores, too. For instance, if you work at Bath and Body Works, you can also use your employee discount at Victoria's Secret. If you are working there during the holidays, it is great buying gifts using your discounts. Furthermore, there is often a "friends and family discount" offered at some point right before the holidays; plenty of people you know will be interested in getting extra discounts.

Even if you do not work in retail, find out if your company offers any type of discount at retail stores. Some companies offer discounts for products or services, such as cell phone services. Whenever possible, even if it means filling out some extra paperwork, you can experience some pretty decent savings by taking part in employee discount programs.

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Sell Some Stuff From Work!

Aside from receiving outdated supplies, you never know when the opportunity will arise to cash in from other extra unwanted items. At some jobs, computers will be given or sold at a low price to employees once they are replaced by newer items. If you are given a computer you don't need, sell it on Craigslist. For that matter, sell whatever you can if your job gives it to you.

For instance, one time a fire marshall came into our building and banned everyone from using portable heaters. One of my co-workers offered to take the heaters and sold them on Craigslist. Since she went through the trouble to post and sell the heaters, she was allowed to keep all of the money she made. Sure, these instances don't come up a lot at work, but when they do occur, make sure to take advantage of the opportunity.

Just remember to make sure you are selling items you are allowed to sell. If you business must throw out items for any reason and they are not allowed to be sold, it is considered theft to take anything. It is especially not going to be a good idea to take these items and sell them online. If you take products that are supposed to be thrown away, it could mean you lose your job. If you take those products and try to sell them, you might just end up in jail.

Basically, what I am trying to tell you is be careful you are following the rules at work and check with supervisors if you are in doubt when you are taking advantage of some of these money-making and money-saving ideas. Don't sell anything you don't have the right to sell. If you aren't supposed to be charging your electronics at work, don't get fired on account of this advice. The bottom line is, do what you can do to save money while at work. Many companies offer less benefits than ever before to save money. I say, make up your own benefits as you go along so you can save as much money as humanly possible. It is all about being as creative as possible while keeping your job!

Copyright ©2012 Jeannieinabottle

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Comments 28 comments

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Jeannie, Some really great ideas during this difficult time we are experiencing in our economy. Totally gave some great food for thought and will pin, share, vote and tweet too!!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much! I started to realize how much thrifty stuff I did each day at work and figured it could actually help someone. Thanks for the votes and thanks for sharing!!!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I don't know why I'm laughing....oh yes I do....my dad used to take a lunch box to his manual labor job at a sand & gravel pit.....and he had this theory that if he could fit it in his lunchbox then it was his to take home....so he would come home with toilet paper, and nuts and bolts, and just the oddest assortment of stuff from his job. Anyway, enjoyed your hub, Jeannie, but then I always do.


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

I used to love Christmas Dinners at work. They'd buy two or three honey baked hams as well as a turkey. My office was right next to the fridge. When all was done, and most employees were gone, shall we just say that my wife and I enjoyed ham for quite a while. Great ideas and useful hub!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I had a friend who once decided she could save money by taking the toilet paper home from work. Security caught her and she lost her job! not too smart, huh?

Good Hub. Voted it UP, and shared.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

Great tips! I never understood phobia of the public restroom- yes it's gross at times but it's never smart to hold it for 8 hours! Just go and clean up after yourself- use toilet paper as a seat liner and open the door with a paper towel if necessary.

Free food at lunch is the best thing ever- unless of course I can't eat any of it. But usually there's something for everyone.

I tend not to need to charge my electronics that often but I agree unplugging them is a smart thing to do during the day. Awesome stuff Jeannie!


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 4 years ago from Central Virginia

What great ideas! You have presented many things I've never considered. I love hubs that teach me something. Good job!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

billybuc - Your father had an interesting theory there. I will say I know others that have this theory as well. I am never fessing up to anything like that though! Hehe. Thanks for the comment!

rcrumple - You are so right! Sometimes it pays to have the desk near the fridge. It sounds like a good plan. Thanks for checking out my hub!

mary615 - Oh no! The secret is always use the toilet paper WHILE at work. No more holding it until you get home or using the bathroom just before leaving for work. Use the bathroom while there! Thanks for the vote up and for sharing.

Alecia Murphy - Thanks so much! Yeah, I tend to be a little on the cheap side and all of these extra "benefits" help. I can't believe more people don't take advantage of them.

lrc7815 - Thank you so much! I realized the other day that I did a lot of thrifty things to make having my office job even more valuable than just getting a regular salary. I decided to share!


kathleenkat profile image

kathleenkat 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

Very interesting. I never thought about the toilet thing, though I try to use it before I leave simply because of my commute. The selling of free stuff has been a huge no-no in every place I have worked; even the free sub from Subway had to go in my mouth, and nobody else's. I once worked at a place that would purposefully slash couches that were returned, then throw them in the dumpster (nobody wants them because of the slashes, I guess). Once, the police were called on two college kids digging in the dumpster for carpet samples, because it was still technically store property. I don' t, and have never, understood this. But be very careful with the free stuff, and who you give it to, or who you sell it to. My company sometimes gets Microsoft employee prices at the Microsoft store; then everything that is purchased has a little tracking code tied to our names, and if it ends up online, it will be known.


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Very useful tips! Never thought about the toilet paper! My TV is plugged in and I forget to unplug it when it's not in use, but this hub is reminding me to unplug it now. We sometimes get catered lunch at the office and if there are any leftovers that is what I have for dinner and it's great not to have to worry about dinner and cleaning the dishes afterwards. Voted up, useful, awesome.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

jeannie....this is taking frugality to the very max.....a gal after my own heart. This is really using your head, girl! It takes a pretty smart and budget-minded individual to come up with these fab ideas! I'm proud of you Jeannie!!.......Thanks for spreading the genius around!.....UP++


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I had to laugh at the toilet paper observation because it is so true. Now that I work at home, we go through considerably more toilet paper than we did when I taught full time! Great insights here.


kathleenkat profile image

kathleenkat 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

Yes, but think of all the gas you are saving!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

kathleenkat - I've found retail stores are usually not that generous as far as giving you items. They would rather throw them out rather than have anyone else get them. It is terrible. In most offices, when something is out of date or the office is updating electronics, they are usually a little bit more at giving away items or selling them at a discounted price. That is why I stress for everyone to check their employee handbook or check with a supervisor first. No need to get fired over selling some stuff on Craigslist! Thanks for the comment!

Efficient Admin - I think I am the only weirdo thinking that much about toilet paper. I guess it is a subject dear to my heart. Hehe. Yeah, I just keep my TV unplugged in the livingroom at all times, but not in the bedroom. I tend to use the bedroom TV more. Thanks for the comment and the votes!

fpherj48 - Oh yes, I am all about being frugal. I just sit around and try to think of ways to save money all the time. Thanks for the comment!

randomcreative - Yes! It is only once you are at home for a while you start to realize how much you go through toilet paper, soap, paper towels, etc. Thanks for checking out my hub!

kathleenkat - It depends on whether you use gas. I walk to work each day because, once again, I am thrifty. I highly recommend walking to save money, too. Hehe. :-)


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

I do several of these things! I charge my electronics and always make sure to use the restroom there, on their dime, before heading out for the day! It's nice to see some new ideas, too.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Good to know I am not the one doing this stuff. Thanks so much for checking out my hub and I am happy to give you some new ideas.


kathleenkat profile image

kathleenkat 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

Jeannie; I have an 89 mile commute. I wish I could walk to work, or even ride the bus. Walking would be futile! Carpooling, however, is not futile :).


zenmodo profile image

zenmodo 4 years ago

Very well written article and good tips, too. Never thought about the toilet thing!


tipstoretireearly profile image

tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

Great suggestions! These items might not mean much individually, but they make a big difference over the long run considering how much of our lives we spend at work.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

kathleenkat - Oh, that is a terrible commute. I am sorry. At least once you are at work, I hope you use as much toilet paper as possible. :-) Hehe.

zenmodo - I think of the strangest things... usually while I am in the bathroom at work. Thanks for the comment!

tipstoretireearly - They do tend to make a difference over time. I estimate I save about $50 in toilet paper a year just by using someone else's bathroom all day long. :-) Thanks for checking out my hub!


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

I laughed so much with the toilet paper idea :) .. But seriously, taking advantage of the benefits the company offers (like health insurance or the EAP you mentioned) is really important I think .. workers rarely take advantage of them.

thanks for your great ideas Jeannie , voted it up and shared :)


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much for the vote up and for sharing. I am all about taking advantage of as much money-saving opportunities as I can. I will admit though, I am not always excited about going to the dentist, even if it is included in the insurance plan. :-)


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Cool ideas, what you say is very important. Sometimes the most obvious is not seen by people who work. They have to make use of facilities offered at the work place. Great hub.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much! I am happy you liked my hub. I am all about saving money when I can. :-)


seanorjohn profile image

seanorjohn 4 years ago

I usually take a flask of coffee to work. From now on I am boiling the kettle at work and making up the flask there.Then charging up my phone. Voted up and useful


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

That is the right way to do it! Use their electric to heat your coffee... not your own! Thanks for the votes and for the comment!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia

Except for the free food, I don't think I would have thought of these. I work from home now, but if I'm ever back in an office environment, I will remember your tips. Voted up and useful.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much for the vote up! I do sometimes wonder how much more money I would spend on electricity and supplies if I worked at home all the time. Using work's supplies is so much better than using my own! :-)

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