How to: Cut the cost of working

While starting a new job means you’ll have money coming in, often the cost of working can take a substantial amount of your pay check.

Commuting, childcare bills, lunch and other expenses (see: after work drinks) can all add up, but there are plenty of ways to help keep these costs manageable.

Legal & General has partnered with Rough Guides to create the Rough Guide to Work and Money, a free to download eBook filled with useful tips to help you cut the costs associated with work and make the most of your workplace benefits.

Here are three of our favourite tips taken directly from the guide:

1. Commuting

Commuting isn’t just a major expense; it can also be stressful and impact on your quality of life. Here are two ways to reduce the cost of your commute:

Talk to your employer about helping with a season ticket loan

Some companies are able to provide you with the money to pay for your travel to work, interest-free, which you then pay back each month from your salary.

Bear in mind that an annual ticket is usually considerably less than paying for a monthly or weekly ticket, so this is an attractive perk if your employer offers it.

Talk to your employer about how they can help.

Grab your bike and get cycling

Provided you don’t live miles away from your job, you might want to consider cycling to work. This is not only good for your health, it can save you money.

If you don’t already own a bike for commuting, your employer may be able to help you buy one tax-free through the government’s Cyclescheme.

Employers run the scheme in different ways, but essentially your employer buys a bike, you then agree to a “salary sacrifice” – paying back the original cost (usually less the VAT) in monthly instalments from your salary.

2. Lunch

Bring a packed lunch

Buying lunch every day can add up to much more than you’d think.

Think about it this way: if you spent £5 on work lunch every day, you’d spend £1,825 in a year – more than enough money to take a trip away.

If you’re looking to cut costs, think about taking in a packed lunch. If snacks and drinks are starting to add up, set yourself a strict daily budget so you know exactly how much you are spending. It might seem boring, but any savings you make can go towards something else you really want.

Still not convinced? Here’s how much you’re really spending on eating out at work:

Eating out

3. Tax

Don’t be afraid to claim tax relief

Depending on what you do, you may need certain ‘tools of the trade’ to help you do your job. You may well have to cover the cost of these yourself, although you might be able to claim tax relief on any items you’ve bought for work, as long as you don’t use them in your private life as well.

As an employee you can claim relief on the following:

  • Repairing, replacing or buying small tools you need to carry out your job, such as an electric drill or nail gun.
  • Repairing, cleaning or replacing clothing you need specifically for your job, such as boots or a uniform.
  • Any fees or subscriptions paid to approved professional organisations, but only if they are helpful for your work, or if membership is essential in order to do your job.

You can’t claim tax relief on:

  • The initial cost of buying your work clothing.

You should also be able to claim tax relief if you use your own car for busi­ness, or for fuel when you use a company car, as well as on the cost of overnight expenses if you have to travel as part of your work.

For more information, download Legal & General’s free eBook, Rough Guide to Work and Money at to find out more useful tips on how to minimise your workplace costs and make the most of your benefits.  

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Do you have any essential tips for people looking to cut back on work expenses? Share them with us below or tell us on Twitter @reedcouk.