Despite the fact that I quit my full-time job almost two years ago, I still pick up shifts about once every three months at my old job. I don’t need the money, but I really liked my old job and enjoyed the people I worked with so it’s sort of a way to stay social. Plus, my old boss only calls me when she’s desperate so I don’t mind helping out.

The work itself isn’t very hard and I’m usually only called in for 4 hours whereas a full shift is 9 hours. After being out of TV production for so long, it’s a bit of a rush whenever I jump back into things but holy crap do I spend a lot of money when I’m there. 

Small costs add up to big costs

Everyone has heard of the latte factor and to be honest, I don’t really care about people who want to buy coffee every day. I assume most people aren’t paying $5-7 to get their daily caffeine fix so it’s likely not a big deal if you decide to treat yourself. However, if you’re buying multiple things a day, then that’s where prices tend to add up.

On this shift, I was working 10am – 7pm. Since I wake up at 6am and usually eat breakfast right away, I tend to get a bit peckish around 10am. When I’m at home, it doesn’t matter since I can snack, but I decided to treat myself to McDonald’s breakfast on the way to work. I only had a piece of toast earlier so I figured I get myself a full meal which cost me $7.90.

I got to work and started doing my usual tasks. Since I’m not there often, I took the opportunity to catch up with a bunch of former colleagues. Around 1pm, I started to get a bit hungry again and then I ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen in a year. She was going out to grab lunch so I joined her. Even though we just went to the food court, I still spent about $17 on lunch. Fast food is expensive these days!

Then at 4pm, we all went for our usual coffee run. Knowing that I wouldn’t be off work until 7pm, I decided to grab a tea and a snack which came out to $4. In the past, I would go just for the company and make a tea back at my desk, but since I don’t work there anymore, I no longer have a mug or tea lying around. 

In the end, I spent almost $29 on food that day. Fortunately, I had leftovers for dinner because I know I would have been too tired to make something when I got home which was close to 8pm. Had I bought dinner, my tally could have easily been around $45 for the day 

The one-offs can get you

During this same shift, someone was about to go off on maternity leave so they were passing around a card and taking cash donations. Fortunately, this person was hired after I quit so I felt no obligation to give them anything. 

But here’s the thing, why should you feel obligated to donate to these kinds of events? No one sent a collection around for me (because I’m a guy) when I still worked there and was about to have a baby. If the person was a friend outside of work, I would have got them a gift regardless. Yes, they may be a good co-worker, but I can’t afford to be parting with my cash for every random occasion.

That said, there’s one thing I will always take part in at work regardless of how much it’ll cost me. The office lottery pool. I totally understand that the odds are never in my favour and I should technically never play the lottery since it’s basically throwing my money away. But there’s no way I take the chance of being the only loser who has to come into work the next day in the rare event the group hits the jackpot. You can have my $2, $5, $10 or whatever each week, that’s money well spent.

Final word

It’s impossible to spend no money at work unless you’re super frugal or prepared, but at least I used one of the best travel credit cards whenever I make purchases so I can at least earn some points. I don’t even want to guess at how much money I’ve spent on miscellaneous things at work over the years so I’m glad I work mostly from home now.