Money Work How to stop spending thousands at work

How to stop spending thousands at work

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If you like to treat yourself during the nine-to-five grind, be careful: that mid-morning coffee break is costing you more than the price of a latte.

A new study has revealed that employees are spending hundreds during their working week, with the average Aussie worker forking out $11,000 a year on retail goods and services.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average full-time wage in Australia is $74,724 before tax. That means on average 15 per cent of income is spent on daily distractions from the desk.

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The findings from Australian consulting firm Urbis indicate that surrounding businesses are reaping the benefits of longer working hours and office camaraderie, as more employees turn away from the water cooler and head out for coffee, lunch and shopping breaks.

According to the survey, Australian workers drink a collective two million coffees per week and spend an average of $76 per week on food and drink. What’s more, a third of us also indulge in a weekly clothing or footwear splurge.

“The overarching issue is that our salaries are far less than we think,” budget expert Alex Wilson from says.

“We’re copping the brunt of full retail prices due to the desire to socialise and get away from a meaningless desk existence.”

As the temptation of cappuccinos, croissants or retail sales can sometimes be too much to bear, we’ve devised your fail-safe plan for a “free” workday. Trust us, it is possible.

bowl of cerealHave breakfast at home

Not only is it healthier than a pastry, a bowl of cereal is a much cheaper, more time-efficient breakfast. Quell mid-morning cravings by eating up and even packing a second breakfast in case hunger strikes.

Quit coffee

“The $3.50 a day isn’t an issue,” Mr Wilson says, “but multiply that by five working days a week and 48 working weeks a year and you’ve got a holiday to Thailand.”

Make your coffee at home or substitute it for the cheaper alternative of tea.

Shop for an apocalypse

Mr Wilson advises you to stock your desk with prepackaged long-life snacks like tuna, canned soup or bubbly water to circumvent cravings. Buy them in bulk to save even more. 

Make your own lunch

It may mean five extra minutes in your morning, but it’s also five to 15 extra dollars in your pocket.

If colleagues urge you to join them for a sandwich, don’t skip the socialising – just BYO.

“Don’t pack something that will force you to sit around a microwave or your desk. Portable sandwiches, drink bottles and things that don’t require preparation are ideal,” Mr Wilson says.

Ditch your wallet

If you really don’t trust yourself, carry just enough money to get to work and back again and leave your credit cards at home.

To take it to the next level, lock up your salary in short-term notice saver accounts so you can’t draw money out on impulse.

20130604000711050031-originalChoose alternate transport

Trains, trams and buses add up, and the daily commute can elicit desperate caffeine urges. If it’s possible, aim to walk to work (skipping your favourite coffee store), ride your bike or carpool with a colleague.

Stay busy

Idle time increases the risk of spending. Instead, schedule your lunch break with errands, exercise or people-watching. This will also free up hours after work to spend with family and friends.

Stop thinking like a consumer

It’s fine to go for a walk at lunch, but choose a park over a busy shopping street.

“Chase experiences, not things,” Mr Wilson says. “It’s not the things you buy that should make you happy.”

Are you out-of-pocket at work, or budget savvy? Tell us your tips in the comments below.


Having trouble budgeting? Read Saving Money Is Easy by Cath Armstrong. Buy it here.

saving-money-is-easyIn the current economic climate many Australians are on a limited budget. Saving Money Is Easy gives a month-by-month guide to organising your finances and shows how the average family can save thousands of dollars. Filled with a mass of tips, tricks, recipes and how-tos to help you take charge of your money!


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