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Work where you spend

As a freshman on the Emory Tennis team

As you know, I started this site to help people maximize their money. While I’ve never made a lot of money in my life, I’ve found ways to work around my lack of funds…literally.

My top advice for people who come to me complaining they can’t afford something they want is: Work Where You Spend.

That’s right. If you like to eat out, get a job at a restaurant. If you can’t stop shopping at the mall, get a job at a retailer there. If you can’t give up your Starbucks habit, become a part-time barista.

I know, I know. You’re already very busy. But if you want something badly enough, you should be willing to work for it. I’m not saying take on a second full time job. Just sign on for enough hours to get you a discount and then provide the funds necessary to pay for your habit 😉

Here is just a short list of jobs I’ve held in order to fund my passions and in some cases, provide necessities:

1. Tennis Pro
As a young player, I taught those younger than me to pay for my lessons. After college and before sponsorships, I used it to pay for my equipment and court time. I later turned to it as a full time profession to allow me to travel around the world. If you have any kind of sports skill, this is a great way to help others while making some extra cash.
Pro: Get to play an expensive sport for free
Con: You may be so tired at the end of the day you won’t want to play for fun

2. Restaurant Hostess
Yes, I was a seating hostess (cue “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” reference). If you know me at all, you know I would have been disastrous as a server, but I was able to flash a smile, color in a seating chart and take phone orders at Outback while I was in college in exchange for all the free baked potatoes and bread that was left over at the end of the night! Plus relatives loved me for my discount when they came in town!
Pro: Free food, discount on dining, you know who the good servers are…
Con: You may start craving a simple home-cooked meal

3. Retail Worker
This was perhaps one of my more brilliant moves if I do say so myself. While pursuing my Masters Degree at UNC-Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels!), I worked at the Gap just off-campus for 10 hours a week. Not only was it within walking distance from my classes, but I got to work the opening shifts. So for two hours each morning, I got to organize sale racks by color (you should see my closest now). I only allowed myself to spend on clothes whatever I made there. Retail is also a great option for electronic nuts, music lovers, sport enthusiasts, home decorators, etc.
Pro: Easy way to set your clothing budget
Con: You find things you ‘need’ that you would never normally buy because you’re around the clothes so much!

4. Salon Receptionist
While working on my Masters, I also worked at a hair salon on the weekends. No, I wasn’t doing cuts & highlights (though I have been known to foil my own hair); I served as their receptionist. Again, this didn’t bring in a ton of money, but the stylists cut my hair for free since I agreed to let them practice on me and it gave me great discounts on personal care products.
Pro: Even if you don’t make a lot of money, this eliminates a huge budget expense (especially for ladies)
Con: You may not always get a say in what you look like in the end 😉

5. Gym Worker
As part of my work-study as an undergrad at Emory University, I checked ID’s at our Student Athletic Center. This was a great job for me because it decreased my tuition and I was allowed to study during quiet times at the gym. Even if you’re out of school, working at a gym or health care center is a great option for getting a free gym membership and discounts on any products/food they may sell!
Pro: Help you keep your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight
Con: You may feel guilty for sitting around while everyone else is getting to work out.

You most likely won’t get rich by working any of these jobs, but they will help you save significantly on some common monthly budget expenses. What jobs have you worked in your lifetime just for the benefits?


  1. We have something in common. I worked at the Gap, too. It was only for a month, but I loved it. (I left because I got a full-time dream job.) I think I spent all my earnings on clothes. Gap has been “my” store since I was a young teenager, and I would work there again.

  2. That’s great! I wish more people would stop wishing they had more and just start working for it!

  3. Great money saving idea! Although if I worked at Starbucks for ex., I think, like Rebecca, I’d spend all my earnings!
    Tell you hubby we miss him at the Belle Meade Starbucks!

  4. Will do, Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by to say hi!