If you’re new to the rapidly growing ranks of remote workers, you may wonder how your new routine affects your budget. Here’s a closer look at where working from home saves you money and where it can increase your expenses. Plus, we’ll cover how to optimize your budget for a work-from-home (WFH) lifestyle.
3 Areas Where Working from Home Cuts Costs
Foregoing your daily trip to the office discourages several bad spending habits and even cuts some work-related costs that are essential in a professional environment. Working from home can reduce how much money you put toward transportation, clothing, and food.
One of the most obvious changes is eliminating your commute.
Since your workplace is your home, you can save on gas, vehicle maintenance costs, tickets for public transportation, and other fees that help you get to and from work each day. If you drove to work every day in the past, reaching out to your insurance company may be able to help you get a lower rate since your car stays parked most working days.
Besides the monetary benefits of cutting your commute from your daily routine, you’ll also have more free time. You can use these new minutes or hours for anything, including a hobby, seeing your loved ones, or even starting a side hustle.
Another reduced expense comes from your wardrobe. Depending on your job, you may have needed to invest in quality, professional clothing. Daily wear requires you to replace these items often.
When you work from home, you may need to don a blazer or a nice shirt for a video conference. Most days, however, you’re probably free to wear casual, more comfortable clothing.
It’s far too easy to stop for a morning coffee on your way into work. Making coffee at home adds an extra task you need to complete before you can get out the door, and it’s hard to make an elaborate drink with traditional coffee equipment.
That said, brewing coffee at home is a less expensive option than buying it from your local coffee shop or a national chain. Since you don’t have to rush out the door in the morning, it’s easier to make a cup on your own before you start your shift. You can also find recipes online for your favorite drinks if you’d like something a little more indulgent. When you bookend your long workday with a commute, ordering takeout sounds like a far more manageable option than cooking dinner yourself. Staying home can make your day feel shorter, giving you more energy to cook a meal. Preparing and eating your dinner can also serve as a transitional activity that helps your mind switch from “work mode” to rest and relaxation.
Working from home means you can use your lunch break to make a quick meal instead of ordering in. Meal prepping and packaging leftovers in individual servings are great ways to enjoy a fast, fulfilling meal at home without extending your workday.
3 Areas Where Working from Home Raises Expenses
Though working from home has several benefits for your budget, some of your expenses might increase because of your new lifestyle. Expect to spend more on utilities and groceries. Plus, you may need to buy work-related equipment for your home.
Remote work raises utility costs because you’re home all day. Instead of your employer providing the cost of lighting, heating, and Internet to your office, you take on these overhead costs.
When you have constant access to your kitchen, you can make more meals, eat snacks faster, and ultimately use more groceries than before. Plus, reducing your reliance on takeout naturally means adding more items to your shopping list.
If you’re new to remote work, you may need to invest in the right equipment. Fortunately, many jobs require only a computer and specialized software. Employees transitioning to WFH already have a good idea of the things they’ll need, and new hires can ask about recommended equipment before accepting job offers. Keep in mind that some companies will also pay for employee equipment or offer reimbursement options.
Tips for Optimizing Your Budget When Working from Home
Switching from a traditional workplace to a work-from-home lifestyle changes many aspects of your life, including your routine and mindset. To maintain the best financial health possible, your budget should change, too. Here are some of our favorite tips for saving money when you work from home.
- Choose a manageable and budget-friendly diet, and make your own meals.
- Merge your errands and other trips to stretch your savings on transportation.
- Know the benefits you’re entitled to and use them to cover the services you need.
- Consider whether potential increased work hour flexibility can help you save on childcare.
- Encourage a positive money mindset to help you change your spending habits to match your WFH lifestyle.
- Make sure your home is running as efficiently as possible to reduce utility costs.
Take the Pressure Off by Saving More
Working from home offers new opportunities to save, and it may be a good time to open a savings account with PSECU. With a Money Market, you can earn higher dividends* than other savings options on balances greater than $500. For more tips on saving and budgeting, visit our Online Learning Center.
*Dividends (which you may call interest): Based on day of deposit to day of withdrawal. Dividends are calculated on actual daily balances. If your daily account balance falls below $500, you won’t earn dividends until your daily balance again reaches $500. Dividend rates are declared weekly, compounded daily, and paid monthly into Money Market Shares. Payment of dividends is based on the available current and undivided earnings of PSECU. The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) for a deposit of one year or less is based on the assumption that both the deposit and dividends remain on deposit for a full year. A withdrawal will reduce earnings. Regulations prohibit dividends in excess of PSECU’s available earnings.