Keep Dress Shoes at the Office

Many years ago I purchased a pair of men’s oxfords, which I guess are the standard shoe to wear in a professional office.  At the time, it was a fairly major purchase for me, but I got lucky and found a particular style that was being discontinued by the manufacturer and was on sale on Amazon for 50% off.  And, as a bonus for applying for and being approved for an Amazon credit card, I got an additional $30 discount.  So the shoes only cost me rockport_oxfordabout $15 or $20.  Knowing that replacing them would cost at least $100, I wanted to take good care of them.  So I decided I would keep them at the office under my desk.  One day, it must have been over 10 years ago, I wore a pair of men’s moccasins to work, carrying my new oxfords in a bag.

I have kept those oxfords at work ever since, wearing them at least a couple days a week — and they have never been outdoors.  Their soles have never touched anything other than carpet and tile.  They’ve never been exposed to dirt, dust, rain, snow, or mud.  I wear my mocs on the commute, going thru a pair about every year, and change into my oxfords at work, although some days I wear my mocs all day.  When I do change shoes at work, it’s always very pleasant to get out of the mocs I wore on the commute and into the cool, dry oxfords that have been waiting overnight.  Then, at the end of the day, the mocs are rested and nice to put on when I take off the oxfords and place them back into their under-desk home.

I even bought some shoe polish to keep in my desk and I use it to give my oxfords a fresh shine once or twice a year.

It now looks possible that these oxfords will last until I retire.  One pair of dress shoes, 25 years.  I reckon that’s saved me several hundred dollars, compared with the alternative of wearing my good dress shoes on my back-and-forth commute every work day.


The Cup is a Marvelous Invention — Are You Using it to Your Best Advantage?

diogenesI threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough,” said Diogenes.  I say I admire Diogenes’s effort to simplify his life.  But Diogenes didn’t work in an office downtown.

If you work where eating in nearby restaurants is expensive, a cup can help you save a lot of money. Do you go to a fast-food restaurant for breakfast?  Why not take a box of cereal to work once a week and bring your own milk in a mason jar or a reusable water bottle each day?  With cereal, milk, and your cup, you can feed yourself breakfast for about 20 percent of the cost of a daily fast-food breakfast.  Go cup!

And how about lunch?  Fast-food again?  Fast-casual?  Both of those cost far more than what you can bring from home and eat from your cup.  Bring a can of soup or pasta-and-sauce and eat lunch from your cup.  Again, the cost is about 20 percent of eating in a restaurant.

Going to restaurants, some people spend at least $5 for breakfast, $6 for lunch. Add another $3 for sodas and candy from vending machines.  That’s about $15 per day.  Go to work 20 days per month, and that’s $300 per month — $3,600 per year.

Bring food and drink from home and spend as little as $4 per day, maybe less.  Save at least $200 per month — $2,400 per year. One Costco-size bag of Cheerios or Mini-Wheats (which comes in a box containing two bags costing $5 to $7) lasts me more than a week at work.  I use maybe half a gallon of milk per week, so that’s less than $2.  Voilà, breakfast for $1 per day, thanks to my cup!  You can also use a microwave to cook oatmeal in your cup.  That costs about 90% less than buying breakfast.

Since I started eating and drinking only what I bring from home, I have become an expert at finding canned soup and similar for about $1 per serving.  A box of soup in cans at Costco is usually a little more than $1 per can, but I stock up when it’s on sale.  The dollar store sometimes has good canned soup (e.g., Progresso) for $1 per can.  Wal-Mart often sells Chef Boyardee pasta and sauce for $1 per can, or even less.

corning_cupIf your credit card balances aren’t paid down to zero each month …If your mortgage balance isn’t as low as you’d like … Or if the amount you have in your retirement savings account isn’t as high as you’d like, can you afford to pay people to prepare food and clean-up for you?  Can you afford to pay for disposable cups and food containers?  Why not do the job yourself and pay yourself the difference?  Avoid convenience and save the money.

You need one of these cups!*

* One that is 20 oz (591 ml) or larger will hold a can of soup nicely and leaves some room at the top to prevent spilling.  Anything smaller might be difficult to carry without spilling when filled with a full can of soup.

$30 For Carrying a Box to Work

mottsI like a snack after lunch.  Snacks from the vending machines cost between $1 and $2 each.  So this past weekend at Costco I bought a box of 36 snack-sized packs of applesauce.  The box weighed about 9 pounds and cost about $10.  I think it was on sale, so, thanks to that I’ll save a bit more than I otherwise would have.  I can substitute a serving of applesauce for whatever I might buy from the vending machine.   At one snack per day, 36 snacks from the vending machine would cost $45 over the course of about seven weeks  With my applesauce, I can snack for about $10 over that period.  Thus, a savings of over $30.

I’ve done the same thing the large bags of dried apricots, figs, prunes, and Craisins.  I could also do the same with a box of single-serving bags of potato chips or microwave popcorn.  The principle is the same: instead of paying the guy that stocks the vending machine to bring snacks to your workplace, bring the snacks yourself and pocket the delivery fee.

Think about product delivery:  A large part of retail prices, especially for food in serving-size packages, is the cost of convenience: the cost of delivery and stocking in convenience stores and vending machines.  Do the inconvenient thing, get these food items from a superstore and do the delivery yourself.  Your bank account will thank you.

* I’ll save, or I’ll or earn, depending how you look at it; a penny saved is a penny earned. In a sense, I’ve earned that $30 by doing the delivery and stocking work myself.