Chapter 9 - Work & School

Ever feel like money is constantly slipping through your fingers? Like your paycheque will vanish into thin air no matter how carefully you budget? It happens to the best of us. Small expenses add up quickly, and before we know it, the money's all been spent. Where does it go?

Some of it may be going toward on-the-job expenses, surprisingly enough. We commonly think of our jobs as the place we go to make money, but we spend money there, too - sometimes without even realising it. Little absent-minded expenses, like buying candy from the vending machine, grow into large-scale budget killers if they're made on a regular basis.

Thankfully, we can win this budget battle by taking
a closer look at how we use our money throughout the workday.

Meet Gareth, a frugal spender living paycheque-to-paycheque in the city. He enjoys his work, but sometimes unexpected costs come up that leave him in a bind. Here are a few ways he cuts costs at his office job...

Gareth shares rides with co-workers to save petrol. But when his carpool mates can't make it, he walks, cycles, or takes public transport instead - depending on the weather. He also works from home a few times every month. His daily transport costs are quite low!

If you see him on his way to work, Gareth won't be wearing dress shoes. He stores those at the office and dons trainers until he clocks in. When he gets home from work, he changes out of his professional clothing right away to help them last longer.

Gareth packs his lunch at home rather than buying it at a restaurant every day. His lunch bag usually has a few extra snacks because the vending machine tempts him in the afternoon.

When he and his office mates go out for happy hour, he sets a budget beforehand and pays with cash. If the party's still alive and kicking when he reaches his spending limit, he stays and drinks water.

When going on business trips, Gareth keeps a meticulous list of all the expenditures he incurs, even if it's as small as putting spare change in a parking meter. He makes sure his expense report is thorough so he doesn't end up paying for the trip out of pocket.

When everyone is pitching in for an office party, Gareth volunteers to bring less expensive items lilastic utensils, plates and cups. But he rarely skimps when asked to contribute money for a co-worker's gift - unless he's in dire straits.

Gareth takes full advantage of every employee benefit his company has to offer. For instance, he has stopped buying coffee because his firm provides it free. He also uses his employee discount whenever he can. When money is especially tight, he stays after work to use the Internet instead of paying for it at home.

In a way, school is a child's occupation. And just as hidden expenses can take us by surprise in the workplace, so they can also come up unexpectedly for our children's schooling.

On average, parents lay out £1,247 a year for their children's education, not including school fees. Where do these costs come from?

When it comes to saving money, the last place parents want to skimp is on their kids! However, there are sensible techniques parents can use to save money while still giving their children the very best quality. Packing homemade lunches, sharing rides and hunting for bargains are good starting points.

Practically everyone has a specialty - an area of expertise they know more about than anything else. What are you an expert in?

Maybe it's a specific task people are always asking you for help with. Maybe it's a subject you love learning new things about. Maybe it's an issue your friends and colleagues value your opinion on.

Whatever it may be, challenge yourself this month to share your wisdom with the world for extra quid.

You could become a tutor, write blog posts, film how-to videos, teach a class, speak at seminars, enter trivia contests, or start a club, among other things. If your expertise is in the industry where you work, you may be able to find additional opportunities through your employer.

It feels good to use our talents to educate others. So put your knowledge to work and make some extra money while you're at it!