Take Five: Tips to Save Money Through Work

Follow "Take Five" pointers to learn how to save money through daily work-related decisions

Part of the Take Five Series

Sure, economic times are tough, but there are plenty of ways to save a few dollars here and there - especially through Duke or by changing your habits during the work day. Use these tips to save money and feel better about making some positive changes.Don't break the bank for breakfast

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Breakfast - the most important meal of the day - can help you save money that would otherwise go toward snacks or big meals, said Kelly Velotta, a dietician clinician with LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke's employee wellness program. Velotta said eating something like peanut butter on toast at home before leaving for work can save calories, sodium, fat and time."People have the perception that they don't have time to eat breakfast at home but have time to sit in a drive-thru," Velotta said. "Eating a bowl of cereal would literally only take about five minutes, and dry cereal or oatmeal only costs about 10 cents per serving, which is very cheap even compared to dollar menus at fast-food restaurants."Brown bag itPacking your lunch is another way to save, according to Velotta, who added that when people bring lunch instead of going out to eat, they're going to eat healthier."If you cook a healthy dinner the night before, just make some extra for lunch the next day," Velotta said. Velotta said sandwiches and wraps are easy to make and cheap based on serving sizes. She also noted that yogurt is a good side dish to lunch because a cup of yogurt often doesn't cost more than $1 and the protein will help keep you feeling full.Share the rideSave on parking fees, gas and vehicle wear and tear by utilizing one of Duke's alternative transportation options through bus passes, carpool or vanpool programs and the fare-free Bull City Connector."Every time you carpool - even if it's just once a week - saves money and gets time back in your day," said Brian Williams, Duke's transportation demand coordinator.Save through discountsOne of the most popular benefits at Duke is PERQS, the faculty and staff discount program, which provides discounts at restaurants, stores, movie theaters and more. Whenever possible, Melissa Dean, her husband and two sons, Benjamin and Nicholas, see movies at the Beaver Creek Stadium 12 Theater near their home near Cary. It's one of the theaters where they can use discount tickets purchased through PERQS. "I save about $10 each time we use the tickets," said Dean, a staff assistant at the Duke Lemur Center. "That helps pay for the fact that we usually complete the evening by going out to eat."It's all about balanceBe selective about after-work activities. Dinner or refreshments with co-workers can get costly so consider heading home to recharge or spend time with friends or loved ones. Carol Retsch-Bogart, a counselor in Duke's Personal Assistance Service program, said that rest and relaxation is free and important to recharge for the next work day."You can even use your commute to separate yourself from work by listening to news, your favorite music or audio books," she said.