If you only go to work to make money then you’re not doing it right. The workplace is full of ways a true penny pincher can save money too.
No, I don’t mean pocketing the tea bags or robbing the stationary cupboard. Here are some ways your employer can help make your salary go much, much further:
Work from home
Does your employer offer flexible working arrangements? If you’ve got kids under the age of 17 then you have the right to request a flexible working pattern, and your employer must seriously consider it.
Working flexible hours can allow you to miss the worst of rush hour traffic, cutting your commute and saving you petrol. However, flexible working doesn’t just mean choosing your own hours – it can also mean working from home.
If your employer will allow you to work just one day a week from home then you could cut your commuting costs by 20%.
Showering at work
Many larger offices have employee showers, for staff to use after cycling to work or going for a lunchtime run.
It costs an average of 15p to take a power shower, according to figures from uSwitch.com. That’s £1.05 a week, or £54.60 a year. But you could take a few of those in the office each week and make some savings.
It’s not a lot, but then every penny helps. And if you do decide to jog or cycle into the office instead of driving or taking public transport, you can save some real cash.
If you decide to get active and cycle to work, find out if your employer partakes in the cycle-to-work scheme. This allows you to get a tax-free bike, saving the average person around 32% of the cost. The company buys the bike and you pay for it through salary sacrifice.
The payment is taken from your salary before you pay income tax or National Insurance, saving you money.
You can encourage your employer to sign up to the scheme if they aren’t already, using this Cyclescheme form.
Make more of your pension
It can be hard to take the long view with a company pension as it usually means sacrificing a chunk of your current take-home pay. With so many people struggling to repay debt or save for a home, that’s not an easy thing to do.
However, if your employer will match your pension contributions up to a certain amount, then it makes sense to use as much of that as you can. After all, if your employer will match contributions up to 5%, then that’s effectively a 5% pay rise.
Charging your phone
Does your employer allow you to charge your phone while in the office? There’s no reason not to make use of that and make a small saving each day.
And not just phones, top up the power on everything from MP3 players to e-book readers while you get the chance.
At the very least, you should avoid charging work laptops and mobiles at your own home, no one will reimburse you.
Food for free
While charging gadgets at work can save a few pence, here and there, you can save far more by ensuring you take advantages of any food in the office.
Wherever possible turn meetings into lunch meetings – ideally with external clients that might pay even if your company doesn’t – and ensure you get your fair share of any office fruit, doughnuts, biscuits or any other treats your employer provides.
A recent poll by the Social Market Foundation found that 55% of parents find childcare too expensive.
But by using the Government’s childcare voucher scheme, you could save as much as £1,000 over just one year. Again, it works through salary sacrifice: ie you receive a portion of your salary in childcare vouchers rather than cash.
You won’t pay NI contributions or tax on those vouchers, meaning you’re paying for childcare out of your pre-tax income.
If your employer is signed up to the scheme, you can receive £55 a week in vouchers if you’re a basic rate taxpayer. Higher rate taxpayers can only receive £28 a week, while top rate taxpayers are capped at £22.
However, if your partner’s employer also offers this scheme, you can both take advantage of it. This could save you a fortune over 12 months.
Borrow the cash for an annual train ticket
If your employer doesn’t do this already, it’s worth suggesting as it’s a great perk. Buying an annual train ticket instead of a daily, weekly or monthly ticket can save hundreds of pounds a year.
But very few people have the ready cash to pay for their commuting up front. However, some companies operate a free Travel to Work loan scheme, as a way of encouraging staff to use public transport.
It’s an interest free loan and the company then subtracts repayments from your wages before it pays them into your account. Unfortunately, this can’t be done through salary sacrifice for new agreements, so you don’t get the tax break.
But you do get the substantial savings possible when you buy 12 months travel up front. For example, an all-London annual bus pass costs £752, or just under £14.50 a week. However, buying just a seven-day pass costs £34.20. That’s quite a saving your employer could be giving you.
Press for a payrise
Obviously the best way to make the most of your workplace is to get more for being there. The climate is tough but it’s worth pressing for a pay rise, especially if you think you’re getting an uncompetitive deal.
Make some notes on what you’ve achieved, where you’ve shone and how you’ve developed your skills, and bring it up in your annual review. If you can’t convince your employer to give you a rise immediately, ask how you can improve your skills further to make yourself more valuable to the company.
Do be confident, don’t be obnoxious. And remember that many businesses are struggling, so don’t be too outraged if your employer simply can’t afford to increase your pay.