Is your work life draining your finances?

We typically think of work in terms of making money, not spending it. Yet many of us spend more than we realise simply on getting through the daily grind. From transportation costs and workplace lunches, to chipping in for birthday cakes, keeping our professional attire fresh and attending work social events, there are many facets of our working lives which eat into our monthly budgets.

The average monthly wage in South Africa stood at R18,520 in January 2017. Given that a loaf of bread currently costs around R12.57 and a 1.5L bottle of water will set you back R14.30 as of June 2017, it’s reasonable to imagine a working lunch, picked up from a local deli or supermarket, will set you back around R50. That’s R250 per week, and R1000 each month, equating to just over 5% of the average monthly wage.

And that’s before you factor in transport costs. If your employer does not cover the cost of you getting to and from your workplace, you can expect to pay around R400 for a monthly public transportation pass, and spend considerably more if you choose to use your own vehicle to get to and from work. Added to workday food costs, travel could push the amount spent on facilitating your working life up to 10% of the South African average income – and that’s before we’ve tacked on all of those little extra costs outlined above.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Many of the expenses we shell out for as part of our working life can be significantly reduced, if we’re willing to make a bit more effort. Many of the costs we cover are the result of workers looking for a fast and easy way eat and travel. Invest just a little time and energy and you could make significant savings.

If you’re ready to give this approach a go, the Work Life section of’s “40 Massive Money Saving Tips” could set you on the right track. Here are a few of the key tips to consider…

1. Make your own lunch
Supermarket sandwiches and impulse-bought lunches are a huge and totally unnecessary workplace expense. Cooking up a big batch of something you can pop in some Tupperware and take to work will save you lots and lots of money. From a yummy, nutritious soup, to a quick pasta salad, there are lots of tasty options you can conjure up in your home kitchen at a fraction of the price of a supermarket sandwich.

  1. Start a car pool
    Whether you love your co-workers or hate the idea of spending more time with them, arranging a car pool scheme can work out much cheaper for everyone. Leaving your car at home and swapping lifts with colleagues will split the cost of petrol between you, making transportation much cheaper.
  2. Skip work socials
    While it’s always good to socialise with colleagues and higher ups now and again, don’t feel like you have to attend every social event. Skip after work drinks on Thursdays, avoid little-known colleagues’ leaving dos and don’t worry about missing the Christmas party. Instead, make your excuses, demonstrate your value in work hours and you won’t have to spend money on social events you’re not super stoked about.

How much do you spend on maintaining your work life? Do you have any money saving ideas for workers? Share your stories and saving tips below.