More and more Americans are realizing just how much money they're spending on the job, and they're finding clever ways of cutting back, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, which also found that most of us expect the economy to get worse in the next year, before it gets better. Our recent behavior shows a buckling-down-and-cutting-back mentality that can be helpful, but has its drawbacks.
"I don't feel my job is at risk, but I'm still doing little things like making coffee at home and bringing it to work in a travel mug, and brown bagging it more often instead of eating lunch out," says Anna Sandstrom, a medical administrator in Burbank, Calif. "It just doesn't feel right to splurge these days."
Here are seven common work expenses which can add up quickly, according to Harris Interactive, and how many workers are cutting back on them:
1. Food - Try brown bagging. 46 percent of workers are doing it more often -- including one of the wealthiest people in the world, Oprah Winfrey.
2. Water - 39 percent are using refillable water bottles rather than purchasing bottles of water from vendors at work. Many claim it's for green purposes, rather than economy, which is equally sensible.
3. Coffee - One in five American workers have stopped purchasing coffee in the morning. They can make it at home for less than a quarter of the price and time it takes to stop and buy it at a popular, name brand coffee shop. More are willing to sacrifice their cappucinos for the simpler coffee and milk.
4. Gas - Fewer than one in five have begun carpooling or using mass transportation. This doesn't seem to be a high priority, or perhaps those who could make these changes already did some time ago, when gas prices began skyrocketing.
5. Information - Americans are also cutting back on work-related media expenses. Three in 10 have canceled one or more magazine subscriptions, and 18 percent say that they have canceled a newspaper subscription. So many relevant newsletters can be found online for free these days, that they feel they're not missing out on much. Many say there are environmental advantages to that as well.
6. Labels - Over two thirds (67 percent) of Americans have begun purchasing more generic brands to save money. Designer names are no longer so important, on everything from pens to business suits, to briefcases and purses, to the food they bring to eat at lunch.
7. Dry cleaning - A quarter of Americans say they have cut back on dry cleaning. Rather than having their shirts cleaned and pressed professionally, they're doing that chore for themselves at home, and they're wearing the lower maintenance items in their closets more often.
Unfortunately, while these cuts might be good for us as individuals, they're not exactly helping the economic recovery. "While making more careful spending decisions may be good for a household budget, continual cutting back doesn't do much to help the overall economy grow," say the folks at Harris. "It seems a balance will need to be reached to make Americans feel secure in their own household's finances as well as comfortable enough spending to allow the country's economy to grow once again."
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