Most advice about saving money tends to focus on our personal and home lives. Don't shop, cancel credit cards, auto-save a portion of your paycheque, stick to grocery lists... You get the drift. We've written about it too, and we'll be the first to admit that it's all really good advice. But considering that most of us spend the biggest chunk of our days in office, it's also the place that witnesses some of our unhealthiest and most wasteful spending habits. So here are 10 ways you can save money while you slave away at work.
Make sure your investment documents are up-to-date
Most of us tend to have this terrible habit of uploading investment proofs for accounting purposes, which invariably ends in paying thousands in taxes that could have been easily avoided. If you must, take a day off a fortnight before the deadline for submitting investment proofs to your office just to get your paperwork in order with your CA and investment manager. If you're struggling with a budget, it's criminal to neglect investment proof-it's almost like throwing hard-earned money in the gutter.
Make sure you file all your reimbursements on time
It's tedious to go through the monthly cycle of filing medical, travel, conveyance, telephone bills, we know. But it's important, because over months, it can amount to tens of thousands of rupees. If you don't do it before the end of the financial year, you end up paying a LOT of tax on it, and you may even have to forfeit some reimbursements altogether. If you can't get yourself to do it every month, make sure you file your claims at least once every three months. Four times a year doesn't seem that bad, does it?
Bring lunch to work
Even if you're not ordering in every day, and your office provides you lunch at a subsidised cost, it's still worth your while to spend time cooking your own meals and bringing them to work. For one, cooking can be a great destressing activity. Second, your food will be fresher, which itself will save you a lot of money in the long term, by way of health benefits. You don't know what the quality of the fat and produce being used in the office canteen is. If you're too tired to cook every day, find friends with similar tastes and rotate cooking schedules.
Don't buy bottled water
It might seem like too tiny a portion of money to make any real difference to your life, but it's more than just about money. Keeping a refillable bottle on your desk is good for the environment, plus it will force you to get up and move, every couple of hours, which is something most of us forget to do. Plus, you don't have to dehydrate yourself because you forgot to buy a bottle and don't have time to make a canteen run.
Keep tea blends and bags at work
Stop buying overpriced coffee or guzzling sugar-laden instant coffee from your free office machine. Instead, swap it out with fruity or herbal teas. They are low on calories, soothing, have anti-oxidant properties and aid digestion. Not to mention that you'll save a packet in reduced coffee spends. If you can't give up your cuppa entirely, reduce the amount gradually. And switch to decaf.
Keep snacks in your drawer
Buying roasted channa might be more expensive than a 100-rupee packet of chips, but it's an investment in your health and is cheaper in the long run. Also, it's definitely a whole lot cheaper than the cheese burger we all end up succumbing to when there's no food in sight while working late.
Save from your travelling allowance
If your work involves frequent travel and your office gives you a travel allowance, try working out a deal where you get a lump sum amount every month instead of getting paid for expenses. This will help you save aggressively, if you so choose. Staying with friends instead of booking hotels, eating at no-frills establishments, using local transport instead of booking cars for the entire duration of your stay... There's a lot you can do.
Take the work from home option
If your office has a work from home policy, make sure you utilise it every so often. Sure, you'll probably have to pay for electricity and Internet, but you'll save so much money on food and travelling expenses, in addition to all the travelling time
Use the office gym
Why pay for a gym membership if your office already has a gym within its premises? You might not get a dedicated trainer to yourself at the office gym, but gym memberships are expensive, and you'll end up having a lot more to put into that overseas vacation fund. Besides, given that most people don't use office gyms regularly, if you do become a committed regular, the trainers might actually start investing concentrated effort in your fitness regime.
Use your office car service
If you work far from office, try working a schedule that enables you to use the office's pick-up or drop services, at least one way. Most companies have fairly reasonable car service policies, especially for its female employees. Find out what you're eligible for.
Do you have any tips or tricks up your sleeve to save money at work? Tell us in the comments below.