3 Ways to Avoid the Office Spending Trap

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It can be a huge struggle not to spend any money when you work in an office. Here's how to avoid the office spending trap and what to do instead.I’ve been back at my office job after a four-month maternity leave, and I’m already feeling the pinch of the office spending trap.

Any office worker knows how it goes; a lunch out here, a happy hour there.

If you’re working an office job, you think it would be pretty easy to keep yourself from spending unnecessary money by bringing your lunch to work every day.

In fact, anyone who has ever paid off debt knows that bringing your own lunch is one of the best ways to reduce your spending so you can save money to put toward debt instead.

Except office lunches are always enticing, and sometimes even vital in forging business relationships.

So how can you keep your money goals while also retaining a decent rapport with your colleagues?

Read on for three ways to avoid the office spending trap.

1. Say “No” and Explain

Of course, the number one way to avoid getting sucked into office spending is by declining all invitations that require money coming out of your pocket.

This could include lunches, happy hours, and potlucks. It is perfectly acceptable to let it be known to your colleagues that you are declining social invitations that require money spending.

To make it clear that you’re simply trying to save money, rather than refusing the pleasure of their company, let them know that you’re paying off debt (“I’m tired of drowning in student loans”).

If you prefer to be more subtle, pretend that you’re saving up for something big and relatable, like a vacation. Either way, they will get the point that it’s not about them, but rather, about your finances.

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2. Set a Limit for Your Spending

Declining offers by your colleagues may serve you for a while, but who wants to consistently be known as the office party pooper? If you still want to remain on friendly terms with co-workers, consider simply limiting your spending at events.

Office happy hour? Instead of having two or three mixed drinks, order a house beer and nurse it. They want to order expensive appetizers? Order your beer at the bar and steer clear of the food, letting them know you’re meeting someone for dinner afterward.

There’s all kinds of ways to limit your spending when you’re forced to participate.

3. Be Selective

But what about the more complicated and sensitive situations? Say pitching in for a flower bouquet for someone’s recently passed family member? Or putting in $20 toward someone’s birthday gift?

In this case, you need to be selective and realize that there are some instances in which you will have to pitch in. Consider it part of the office job.

However, by declining and limiting other office spending traps, you can afford to be open to the more sensitive situations like these where social etiquette dictates that you fork over some dough.

Your career doesn’t require you to say yes to every invitation, but you can still find a balance and avoid the pitfalls of spending.

How do you avoid the office spending trap? Do you say no, limit how many yeses you give, or opt out of spending on gifts? What are other ways to cut down on office spending?