Are you working from home? Here's how to save money while doing so

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many workplaces around the world to transition employees to remote work. While working from home can be an exciting change, it can also have unexpected impacts on your budget. Use this list to help you identify where you can save money – and avoid losing it – when working remotely.

working from home

Recognize potential savings

When your home is your office, you may immediately start seeing savings in your everyday routine.

Commuting costs

For many, the biggest savings when working from home is in eliminating the commute to work. Whether you drive or take public transportation, working from home can help you to cut transportation costs, such as gas, car maintenance, bus fees, parking and more. One way to save even more money is to contact your car insurance provider and see if there are any potential discounts if you’re driving your car significantly less.

Cup of joe

Are you the type of person who grabs a cup of coffee from your neighborhood café, every morning before work? Making your morning brew at home can save you quite a bit of money, as well as time. You may need to invest in some kitchen gear, such as a coffee maker or teapot, but your savings over time will add up. Consider continuing to support your favorite local café by buying beans or teas in bulk from their shop to make at home.

man working from home

Home lunch

From business lunches to team meals, eating lunch at the office can be costly when dining out and frequenting your favorite eateries. Like your morning coffee, you can save money while working remotely by making lunch at home. Working from home also may mean going to less pau hanas or dinners out, further reducing the amount you spend on eating out.

Dress code

Many have joked that the COVID-19 work from home uniform is a work shirt with sweatpants on the bottom. The rise of video conferences and calls certainly has a silver lining: you can save money on your work wardrobe! Instead of buying new clothes for the New Year, consider wearing what you already have – by only seeing you on a screen, it’s unlikely that people will even notice if your clothes are newer or not. You can also save money on hair and make-up products if you aren’t shown on camera on a daily basis.

Working on your fitness

Did you frequent the gym prior to the pandemic? Your gym may have been forced to close due to county restrictions. Check your payment schedule and make sure you aren’t being charged if your gym is closed. If you aren’t comfortable going to the gym during the pandemic, consider asking to have a hold put on your charges until you feel safe, or cancelling your membership and renewing it once you’re ready. With many people now exercising from home, the amount you pay for your monthly gym fee could also be reallocated to at-home work equipment or an online fitness program.

mother and daughter

Childcare expenses

Childcare is one of the biggest unexpected expenses you might face after having children. Working from home and caring for your children at the same time is certainly not easy. However, if you can manage the workload or have a close family member or friend in your social bubble help to watch over your kids, you could potentially save thousands of dollars.

Prepare for possible expenses

You can save a lot of money by working from home, but you may see other expenses increase. Remember to include these new or higher expenses in your budget, and plan for how to address them.

Increased utilities

Being at home all day means you may be using your utilities more than usual. You usually wouldn’t need electricity during the day when working at the office. Now, you’ll have to power your computer and any other electronics or devices you may need throughout the day.

Your work computer isn’t the only factor in increased utility bills. You’ll need to run lights to see when it’s dim. You might have to run a fan or air conditioning to keep cool. Making lunch, coffee, or powering workout equipment can also increase your utility costs. Keep an eye on your utility bills and explore ways to save energy, such as using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances.

lady on computer doing work

Grocery and household costs

You may be eating out less, but eating in more can still come with additional costs. Expect your grocery expenses to increase as you start making more meals at home. Hopping on the sourdough or banana bread trend? Ingredients or larger quantities of essentials like flour or sugar could cause a higher grocery bill. You’ll likely go through other household essentials faster than usual as well, such as toilet paper, hand soap, and cleaning supplies since you’ll be using them more often. When doing your grocery shopping, use a list to avoid impulse buys and check prices for the most value and sale items. You can also look for coupons online or in your grocery store’s app to see if there are even more ways to save.

Home office

You may find yourself working at your kitchen counter or dining table, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best place for you to work. It may be worth a bit of extra money to invest in home office equipment, such as an ergonomic desk chair or standing desk, to allow you to feel more comfortable and be more productive.

Other expenses like computer paper or printer ink can increase the cost of a home office. Depending on your needs and your employer, you might be on the hook for most of your office furniture or supplies expenses on your own. Check to see if your employer may offer a reimbursement.

Keep track of your work from home savings and expenses

The most important way you can manage your finances while working from home is to maintain a budget of your savings and expenses. Create two lists – one for your expected expenses during one month of working from home, and one for your expected savings and income. Looking at both lists, you can then get a better sense of what costs you can save or prepare for in the future and make adjustments accordingly. It may take you a month or two to get the hang of it, but remember: budgets are flexible to your needs, and you have the tools to revise them until you get it to where it works for you. Click here for some of our budgeting tools.

Nothing contained in this material is intended to constitute legal, tax, securities or investment advice, nor an opinion that it is appropriate for readers. The information that is contained in this material is general nature. Readers should seek professional advice for their respective situations.