6 Tips to Make Working Worth It

You roll out of bed every morning to the beeping of the alarm clock, and have to remind yourself that you do get paid for this. The mantra is the same when you miss a class field trip with your kids, or leave an unhappy toddler with the babysitter. But are you getting the most out of your income? Take a look at the following ways that you can make your sacrifice more meaningful for the family bottom line.

  1. Drink the free coffee. OK “skinny soy latte with cinnamon” girl—get over it. If you’re stopping at the coffee house by the office to get your caffeine fix, you dropping almost as much cash as the lunch out. All the while, the humble office coffee maker sits there, offering you a free cup of joe. Not tasty enough? For a couple of dollars, you can bring your favorite flavored creamer from home and fancy it up to your liking.
  2. Check for little-known company benefits. Some larger corporations have agreements with other companies to offer a deal to their employees. You might be surprised to learn that your gym membership, insurance premiums or other regular expenses could be reduced just by claiming your status as an employee.
  3. Realize that just because you can deduct it doesn’t mean you should buy it. Some working moms will occasionally make a nice, but unnecessary purchase by reasoning that since it’s work-related, they can claim an income tax deduction. But a deduction is not a tax credit. You won’t recoup as much as you’re spending, so make sure it’s really worth it to you to spend real money on the item.
  4. Take the free money. If your employer offers matching contributions on your 401(k) or other savings plan, by all means, take it. You’ll automatically double your savings without ever missing it!
  5. Brown-bag it, or eat in the company cafeteria. Eating lunch out at a restaurant five times a week can trim $50-$75 from your weekly take home pay. Put at least a portion of those hard-earned dollars back in your pocket by bringing something from home and warming it up in the break room, or utilizing the less interesting—but often underrated—company cafeteria.
  6. Car pool. If your commute to work is lengthy, find a co-worker who drives a similar route and share driving duty. The savings goes far beyond gas: you’ll trim total mileage on your car which equals savings on maintenance and repairs.