5 Ways to Save Money Over Your Entire Career

charlie_imageOver the course of a normal persons 40 year career there can be a lot of choices that will have huge long term affects. However, very few of us realize that these small changes can have long term savings benefits.

In my short career I’ve focused on a few of these areas to help compound my savings along the way.

Have a short commute – the average US commute today is about 16 miles one way (32 miles round trip). By having a short commute you can save money in a number of ways. First off, the most obvious way, is it’ll save ya money on gas. By shorting your commute by just 10 miles per day, then you’d save yourself about $12,000 over the course of your 40 year career. In addition to gas savings, you can save money on insurance too if you commute less than 7500 miles per year. 



Don’t buy a gas guzzler – along with a long commute it doesn’t pay buy a big gas guzzling truck or car. If you switched from a 25mpg car to a 15mpg car, then it’d save you almost twice as much over the course of a 40 year career (assuming you’d have a 16 mile commute). The 25mpg car would cost you $38,400 and the 15mpg car would be $64,000! Again those small differences add up over an entire career.

Don’t take up smoking – either for a habit or a way to get out of work, it doesn’t pay to take up smoking. Assuming for a second that you smoke one packet per day and the price of cigarettes increased at 4% inflation, then smoking would cost you $173,000 over your 40 year career! Besides being bad for your health, it’s also bad for your pocket book too!

Take your lunch to work – is going out to lunch tradition in your office? We’ll this habit could be costing you dearly! If you eat out every day at lunch, spend $7/meal, and use the 4% inflation factor, then it’d cost you $166,000 over your career. I don’t know how some people go out to eat everyday for lunch and smoke! Those two expenses would cost you almost $340,000! Ouch.

Buildup your vacation bank – the amount of vacation that an employee can bank varies a lot. However, consider using your vacation bank as a way of saving your family money. Depending on how much you earn per hour and are allowed to bank will vary this savings amount. Regardless, consider using your vacation as an “office savings account” that will benefit you when you leave.

These are just a few ideas to increase your savings over your long career. I’m sure I’ve missed a few that others are using. We’d love to hear what money saving tips you are using at your jobs!

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12 comments

  1. dojo says:

    Having a shorter commute clearly helps a lot, not to mention a good mileage car. We drive small cars here, so this is again not an issue. Smoking is clearly bad in all aspects, I was fortunate to never pick this nasty habit.

    • Charlie says:

      Having a short commute over your entire career is hard with how much companies come and go. Plus with how a lot of businesses consolidate into larger metropolitan areas, jobs are often moved without us wanting them to be moved.

  2. One of my former bosses used to travel to Colorado three to four times a year for business. He would often take a few vacation days while he was out there. Since the company had to cover his round-trip airfare, he essentially didn’t have to pay for airfare on his vacation. So, if you’re travelling for work to a place you wouldn’t mind vacationing, see if your employer will let you combine the two.

    Also, another way to save on gas: carpool. I live about three blocks away from a coworker. We take turns driving to and from work and I buy about one tank of gas less every month.

    Lastly, take full advantage of all your benefits and perks. Some companies offer discount programs for things like phone contracts, furniture, and appliances. If you work for the food service or retail industries and your employer offers discounts on their own products, buy from your employer instead of other businesses. And if your employer offers a 401(k) match, contribute enough to your 401(k) to at least get the full match — getting a 3% match is like getting a 3% raise.

  3. There is a added benefit to having a shorter or no commute at all (telecommute), one can use that time to grow their skills which would invariably increase their value to an employer and perhaps result in a raise, which translates to more income over a lifetime.

    Another, cut down on hours spent watching tv, it may not be so much career oriented, but the argument is the same as a short/no commute.

    Third, learn to network expertly without breaking the bank :)

    • Charlie says:

      Simon – also having a shorter commute will allow you to focus on other areas to earn money or just spend quality time with your family. When taking a job and considering pay, then you need to factor in there how much total time you are gone for work. That way you can figure out how much you make per hour.

  4. Anita says:

    Take advantage of any company perks that are offered. For example with a confirmed email address from my employer I get an 18% discount off my Verizon bill every month! Some companies also offer free corp memberships to SAMs club or discounted memberships to local gyms. For long-term savings start contributing to your company sponsored 401k especially if they offer matching funds!

  5. Rachel B says:

    After my car died, I moved closer to work and bought a bicycle instead of a new car, so I could commute by bike. I saved a ton of money, and really enjoyed getting so much fresh air each day. It didn’t take much longer to bike than it did to drive.

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