NEW YORK (MainStreet) There are many unforeseeable expenses that come along with having a job. While you're getting a pay check, you're probably also wishing the dollar amount was more impressive than it actually is. But does that stop you from spending the extra $3 for guacamole on your daily Chipotle lunch? I doubt it.
As with all things, I'm sure that somewhere there exists a small percentage of people who "brown bag" their lunch every day. I applaud those people, but unfortunately, I am not one of them. I like for my lunch to consist of a warm meal and a cold beverage, and I also enjoy fueling my veins with fresh coffee throughout the day. Unfortunately, at the end of the week, these preferences can cause a deep indent in the wallet. Luckily, there are some nifty money-saving gadgets out there that are both office-friendly and health conscious.
1. Portable coffeemaker. According to ABC News, data has shown that the average worker spends around $1,100 per year on coffee. If you're sick of paying for coffee with a taste that doesn't match the price, then it's time to think about investing in a personal coffeemaker for your office or cubicle. These are two of the top options available, and are solely based on personal preference as far as brew method and cleanup.
a. Option 1: Available on Amazon for $27.95, the Aeropress is a simpler version of a French press coffee maker, but the flavor of the coffee is touted to go way beyond what's typically offered in an office kitchen. The smooth flavor as promised, in addition to the inexpensive price, makes it a very attractive purchase. Paired with this mug and beverage warmer for another $17.95, you can have your fresh coffee kept warm all day.
b. Option 2: The Keurig has become a staple in the lives of many. It can't get much simpler than pushing a button and having a fully-brewed cup of coffee two minutes later. Available at Bed Bath and Beyond for $99.99, this Keurig Mini-Plus Personal Coffee Maker exceeds expectations as far as space and time. You can even take it one step further and purchase a reusable K-cup, like this one for $14.99, and purchase your normal bagged or canned coffee at a much lesser price than what is typically charged for a box of disposable K-cups.
2. Reusable Water Bottle. We're all guilty of obsessively drinking from the typical plastic water bottles. Their availability is practically instantin the vending machine, on the coffee truck, in the deli next door. And, at approximately $1.50 per bottle when purchased separately, that's almost $8 spent per week on a product (water) that is essentially free. Now that society has grown wiser of the effects of additives in plastic, such as the endocrine disruptor Bisphenol-A (BPA), more and more people each day are starting to stray from the disposable water bottle. Depending on preference, you may opt for either a BPA-free plastic reusable bottle, or bottles made of either stainless steel or glass. With the price being paid for disposable bottles, the next two options will wind up paying for themselves in as little as 2-3 weeks.
a. Option 1:This BPA-free plastic reusable bottle listed at $15 from Camelbak is well-known and widely used. The company lists bottles of various shapes, sizes, and material choices (it offers stainless steel bottles as well).
b. Option 2: If the idea of consuming liquids out of any form of plastic, BPA-free or not, then a bottle made of glass may be the option to choose. This glass bottle available from Lifefactory has options for adults, kids, and babies, with color choices as well. Priced at $22.99, it's a bit more expensive than the plastic Camelbak, but is still worth the price when taking into account the amount of money that is spent on disposable bottles of water over time.
3. Portable Air Purifier. Let's face it: nobody enjoys getting sick. If you work in an office, one of the worst things you'll ever have to listen to is the guy in the cube next to you incessantly hacking up his lungs. In addition to your mega-sized bottle of Vitamin C and your emergency stock of tissues, you may want to consider investing in a portable air purifier. There are a ton of options, all ranging under $40. Now, instead of running through your sick days before summer even starts, you can use them for something more productive. Did someone just say beach?
a. Option 1:This air purifier, for the minimal price of $15, plugs right in to the USB port of your computer. While you're working, it uses the power from your computer to suck up all of the nasty bacteria emanating from your sniffly co-worker.
b. Option 2: If you happen to have extra space in your wall outlet or power strip, this air purifier is a bit bigger but still can remain out of sight. This one can also be found on Amazon.com and is priced at $34.89.
4. Mini-fridge. In addition to the $1,100 that Americans spend on coffee per year, a study done by Visa shows that the average working American also spends close to $1,000 per year on lunch alone. If you'd rather take that $1,000 and go on vacation next year, it's time to invest in a mini-fridge. This perks of a personal fridge are pretty self-explanatory, yet highly underrated.
Although a decent mini-fridge can cost around $100, it is well worth the price if your office does not provide a communal refrigerator (or if your office's refrigerator looks like a science project). Leftovers for lunch are looking better and better.
a. Option 1: Most larger-sized mini-fridges are priced standard at around $100, but to give an example, this Igloo brand fridge available at the Home Depot is priced at $139.00 and has multiple sections for food and drinks.
b. Option 2:This mini-fridge priced below the grain at $58.99 is an optimal choice for those who travel via car for work, as it also has the option to plug into a cigarette lighter rather than solely running through a wall outlet.
5. Portable food warmer. If you don't have access to a microwave, or you simply choose not to use the microwave, this doesn't mean that you're doomed to live on salad for the rest of your life. There are other options to choose in order to heat up your food.
a. Option 1:This portable Crock-Pot is a miniature version of your trusty home slow cooker, and it works like it as well. All for $19.99, this mini-Crock heats your food at a low heat, slowly over a period of time. When you're ready to eat, you'll have a meal that tastes home-cooked, without having to wait in line for your office microwave that is constantly emanating the smell of your boss's salmon filet.
b. Option 2: If your meal isn't slow cooker material, then a heated lunch bag might be a better option. This one, available from USBGeek for $35, plugs right into the USB port on your computer, and heats up just enough to keep the food inside warm for hours.
--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet