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• Jun 6, 2022

For many of us, it's time to switch from comfy clothes to a business comfortable wardrobe for the return back to work in the office.

Returning to the office after a couple of years or so working from home during the pandemic can result in sticker shock for many, with the additional costs from inflation, which is at its highest rate in many decades.

While you may not be able to escape all the increased costs of commuting once again, there are actions you can take – or not take – to lessen the sting just a wee bit. Here are five ways you can save costs if you’re returning to office:

Abandon your car – at least as the sole passenger

This month, gas prices have been averaging around $4.50 per gallon across the nation and are continuing to rise, according to AAA. Consider carpooling to share the cost of the fuel, or share an Uber with a bunch of friends, or take the bus, trolley or other forms of public transportation. If your office is not too far from home, ride your bicycle, or share a public bicycle or walk. If you must drive your car without passengers, commute to the office earlier in the morning and go home later so you won’t be stuck idling your engine in rush-hour traffic – and wasting precious fuel.

Brown-bag it

Block Inc., formerly named Square, is now posting the rising costs of restaurant items, a trend that the company calls “lunchflation.” From March 2020 when the pandemic shutdowns started to March 2022, the average price of wraps increased 13% to $10.21; sandwich prices on average rose 15% to $10.77; taco prices, 19% to $6.48; burgers, 9% to $11.10; soup, 28% to $9.47; and salads, while not as pricey as the average $15 in March 2020, still rising 9% from a year earlier to $10.32.

Pack your lunches, and lower the cost even further by making your meals from scratch and using generic brands for ingredients. You can make batches of food ahead of time and even freeze portions to make them last longer, defrosting and heating them back up in your company’s microwave. You can liven up brown-bag lunches by having outdoor picnics with colleagues and friends at a local park – or maybe even on your office’s rooftop.

Reconsider your new wardrobe

If you need new work clothes, you may want to stay away from some of the boutiques that you once loved – or maybe frequent them just every so often to treat yourself. For the bulk of your new wardrobe, you can find good deals at discount stores, and even greater deals on gently-used items in thrift stores. You can also reconsider wearing your older clothes, and if you like, you can accessorize them with golden finds from vintage stores – scarves, purses and mid-Century costume jewelry might be fun. If you’re into manicures, do your own nails to save money and reconsider expensive hair salons – lesser-priced salons can also produce high-quality styles.

Forgo the expensive gym membership

To maintain your well-being without breaking your bank, walk the area around your office or at a nearby park, or on rainy days, up and down flights of your office’s stairs. Your company may offer exercise equipment, or you can get a group of coworkers to join you for informal aerobics or pilates classes in your office’s conference room. The area around your office may also have basketball courts, a public pool or a nearby YMCA.

Check into flexible arrangements

See if you can work at least one or two days at home, if possible. That way, you can save even more money on commuting, lunch costs and work clothes. As far as meeting clients, perhaps continuing to hold Zoom meetings instead of traveling for in-person sessions would be enticing for everyone to save not only on costs but also valuable time.

Returning to the office can be a rewarding time, particularly if you find ways to make the new normal as affordable as possible. You can also now spend more time with your colleagues and friends, and you all might find innovative, less expensive ways to enjoy each other’s company!

For More on Personal Finance Topics

If you have more questions about other personal finance topics that matter to you, visit the Learning Center on TD Bank’s website.

We hope you found this helpful. This article is based on information available in June 2022 and is subject to change. It is for general information purposes only. Our content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular TD Bank product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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