Spending Strike: Day 23 - How to Avoid Spending in the Workplace

Over the last 23 days, I've found there are some specific moments of weakness when it comes to this spending strike.

Yeah, when I am hangry and I know dinner still needs to cook for an hour, I seriously contemplate ordering a Casey's Pizza. Or, when I look at my split ends each morning while doing my hair, I think about how I really need to hit my stylist, Sommer, up for a trim.

But let me tell you when I really, really feel weak - like I could break this spending strike without batting an eye.

It's when I'm at work as a substitute teacher. There are so many things I have to consider before even walking out the door, that would typically cost me. Big time.

The first problem

Ordinarily I would pack my lunch to work. However, now that I am subbing closer to home instead of teaching full time an hour away, it's easier for me to grab lunch from a deli or convenience store on my way to work. Right there I could spend at least $10 on lunch. In a week, that would mean between $30 and $40. That's about two weeks worth of groceries for us!

The solution

This month I've learned to avoid that impulse by packing my lunch the night before, just like I did when I was teaching full-time. Also, because I don't know if I will have a microwave available, I make sure I pack a lunch that can be eaten cold. I set my lunch bag on the kitchen counter, and toss in a napkin and silverware. I make sure my freezer pack is ready to go.

The second problem

I don't drink soda, and rarely juices. Mostly I stick to water and a glass of milk on occasion. Yet, there's something about seeing all those other teachers and educational professionals with their Mega-Mug of Diet Coke that makes me crave something caffeinated. At $1.25 a bottle, I would be blowing through my fun-money like crazy, just for a drink that I normally don't consume. It's peer pressure in action, folks!

The solution

This month I've learned that I need to keep my reusable water bottles clean and ready for the next day. My wonderful sister-in-law (Hey, Cheryl!) gave me two stainless steel water bottles when she read on Facebook that I lost mine. Now, I have a rotation of two, which ensures I won't break down and grab a pop from the teacher's lounge vending machine.

The third problem

I get fricken hangry around 3 p.m. when my workday is nearing it's end. Y'all know what 'hangry' is, right? It's when you get so hungry that you become irritable and angry. That's me around 3 p.m., and I'm always tempted to grab a Snickers at the gas station to I don't turn into Roseanne.

The solution

In my lunch bag, I usually have a piece of fruit, cheese, or nuts that I can munch on at my desk or in the car on the way home. Also, half the time I realize I'm not actually hungry, but just thirsty. Sometimes drinking a huge glass of water is a huge help to what I thought was hunger pains. Chugging the rest of the water in my water bottle is easy thanks to many, many years of beer bonging in college. Real talk. 

The fourth problem

Working with teenagers makes me realize how out of style my wardrobe and accessories really are. I mean, I know I'm not totally with it when it comes to fashion. I'm always a bit behind on the trends {says the girl who just now owns a pair of jeans with jewels on the back pockets}. However, it's working around highly-fashionable teen girls and boys that makes it apparent that I am waaaaaayyyyy behind on some pretty cute trends. Granted, some of their trends I am totally fine with not adopting, but that's not the point. The point is, I feel frumpy next to these cutie patooties with their sassy, on-pointe outfits.

The solution

I tear these teens down in my mind, to make myself feel better. KIDDING! You guys probably think I'm a monster. Jeesh. I simply embrace the frump, in a way. Whenever I feel like a quick stop at the clothing store is acceptable, I remind myself that those $110 bedazzled jeans will pay my heat bill this month. Or those kick ass Nikes can pay for a whole weekend of camping this summer. I don't want to look frumpy; no one does. It's just that I want to be financially stable and enjoy more events in life, rather than things.  If it means that I wear the shit out of a rotation of $7 solid colored v-neck t-shirts from Target for a year, so be it.

The fifth problem

Are you ready for a truly divine revelation? Here it is: Gas is expensive. I mean, filling up my Chevy Cruze costs almost $50 sometimes, and when I was commuting to my previous full-time gig 50 minutes away, I was filling up twice a week! I KNOW, RIGHT?! Now that I am working much closer to home, I don't feel the pain at the pump as much, but if I'm not careful I can go through a lot of gas in a week.

The solution

When working outside of the home, we naturally see gas and car maintenance as a 'hazard' of the job, right? It's just something we have to deal with if we want to bring in the paychecks. One thing I know I neglect is the planning to drive fewer miles or at a more efficient speed. These are two things that can save us at the pump and at the mechanic! When I am out and about, especially across town in an area I'm not accustomed with, I find myself taking whatever route appears to be best. I am totally guilty of not planning the best route that will get me to my destination with the least amount of miles or drive time. I also need to keep myself off the interstate that runs right through town. Driving faster wastes more gas, right? And I always get busted by the speeding cameras. And I get severe road rage. In general, this is one area that I could use some help. 


Michelle at Simplify, Live, Love and I were emailing back and forth the other day, and she mentioned several tips that she'll be writing about for those of you who work from home. I mean, it makes sense that her moments of weakness as a professional with a home-based career are vastly different than mine. Look for her post sometime next week!

What are your tips for saving money while working outside of the home? Do you find there are more temptations around your colleagues?

Here are the numbers -

Money Spent Today: $0
Running Total: $75
Money We Didn't Spend: $0

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