Money in the Bank
It’s no secret that working from home comes with many perks and benefits. But perhaps chief among them is the financial savings over the long term when compared to working in an office or some other location outside the house. In fact, the savings can be substantial, adding up to thousands of dollars a year. Here’s a closer look at just some of the ways you can trim your spending working from home over the long haul.
Reducing Food Expenses
Let’s start with the obvious. We all spend far more money on food when we’re working outside the home. “Everyone is aware that eating out is both unhealthy and costly, but people still do it,” says Tom Scarda, CEO and founder of The Franchise Academy, who has been working as a remote CEO for about 15 years. “This crisis forced many people to prepare their own meals at home, which probably made them realize how much money they can save.”
Related: 15 Mistakes to Avoid When Working Remotely
Cutting Down on Coffee Costs
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, financial experts were lecturing us all about the money wasted each week at Starbucks. It adds up to no small sum. Well, now is the time to rein in that habit, too, if you’re working from home. “Even making coffee at home can save you a ton of money,” says Scarda of The Franchise Academy. “A $5 container of coffee from a grocery store can last weeks for the cost of a single coffee on the go. If you purchase two $5 cans of coffee per month instead of a $5 coffee the 20 days you work per month that saves you $90 per month and over $1,000 per year.”
Related: How to Make Your Own Cold Brew Coffee and Save
Less Professional Clothing Required
Who among us dresses up for a Zoom meeting? The reality is, very few people feel the need to dress to the nines when working from home, and that translates into major savings on professional wardrobe expenditures. “The amount of money I spend on work-appropriate clothing has dropped from around $3,000 a year to closer to $500,” says J. Marie Novak, a business writer and personal-growth blogger for Believe And Create, who transitioned to working from home a few years ago. “No need to dress up when your meetings are mostly over Zoom. The savings has amounted to about $2,500 a year.”
Related: Pajamas, Sweats, and Leisure Wear Perfect for Working at Home
Minimizing Car Maintenance
Automobiles across America are spending far more time sitting idle in the driveway now that legions of us are working from home. This is yet another development that translates into tangible household savings on multiple levels. “I used to drive about 18,000 miles a year just to commute to and from work, which added considerable added wear and tear to my car,” says Novak, of Believe and Create. “My cars now last a lot longer now, and maintenance is now minimal. I’m saving at least $2,000 a year, probably more than that when you consider I’m extending the life of my vehicle.”
Related: How Often You Really Need to Take Your Car in for Service
Using Less Gas
Vehicle maintenance costs are not the only savings associated with driving less. There’s also the obvious fuel savings. “I’m saving at least $100 a month on gas. That’s a savings of $1,200 a year,” says Novak of Believe and Create.
Related: 12 Ways to Fill Up for Less at the Gas Station
Reducing Car Insurance Premiums
There are also savings to be realized on car insurance when you’re driving your vehicle far less, says Melanie Musson, an auto insurance expert with 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com. “Car insurance premiums are likely to decrease. Most car insurance companies offer a low-mileage discount. You can keep your car and keep your level of coverage and still save money because your risk decreases when you don’t drive as many miles as you did when commuting to work.”
Related: 19 Car Insurance Discounts You Didn’t Know About
Reducing the Number of Household Vehicles
Yet another way to save on car-related expenses working from home is to reduce the number of household vehicles you own, says Mike Beatty, owner of Make Time Online. “We sold our second car, which gave us a lump of cash to start,” says Beatty. “But the true savings came from the running costs of the car.”
Cutting Down on Public Transportation Costs
Not all of us relied upon a car to get back and forth work. Many opted for public transportation such as buses and subways. Here, too, there are savings associated with working from home. “With no need to commute to work every day, you can save significant amounts. The annual cost of a bus or metro card varies by city, but it can reach up to $1,200 annually in some cities,” says Michael Payne, founder of AnywhereWorks.
Minimizing Makeup Costs
There have been various news reports that women working from home have begun wearing far less makeup. Say what you will about this development, but it translates into true savings. “I’ve worked from home since 2006 and rarely ever wear makeup,” says Shilonda Downing, founder of Virtual Work Team. “Some people put on a high-end, full face of makeup every day for work, and the cost of that can be enormous.” Downing says she’s never done the math on how much she saves, but a survey done in 2017 by SkinStore estimated that American women spend about $300,000 just on their face during their lifetime. The same survey found that women wear about $8 worth of products on their face per day. “Even if you cut that by one day a week, you’d save upwards of $400 per year, and that’s not even including what you might save on hair products,” says Downing.
Skipping Weekly Hair Salon Visits
Hair appointments can be another big spend, says Downing. “While employees may need to meet online still, there isn’t the pressure of having individuals sitting right next to you and examining every strand of your hair. You can easily pull, pat and arrange your hair (male or female) to look presentable online without a fresh cut or curl.” Limiting visits to the beauty salon or barber shop will not only save a great deal of your hard-earned money, but also your valuable time, adds Downing.
Related: The Most Important Thing to Do When Cutting Your Own Hair
Cutting Out Childcare Costs
Childcare expenses for working parents can be crushing. Those who are now working from home may be able to trim this expense, says Lamar Brabham, CEO and founder of Noel Taylor Agency, a financial services firm in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “This can vary widely depending on the type of job you have and the age of your children,” says Brabham. “However, according to the Afterschool Alliance, the average cost for after-school care alone is $113.50 per week. That’s $4,000 to $5,000 in savings.”
Taking Care of Household Chores Yourself
With the time saved not stuck in a lengthy commute, you can accomplish many household tasks on your own rather than pay someone else to do them, says Jenna Carson, marketing director for Music Grotto. “With the time that our staff have been saving, they’ve been able to get started on home renovation projects that they would usually put off or pay someone else to do, and it’s the same with housework,” says Carson.
Making the Most of Tax Deductions
Working for home also translates into a potential tax break. The IRS allows for writing off various home office expenses on your annual tax returns if you use part of your home exclusively and regularly for conducting business — but only if you’re self-employed. Salaried employees who receive a W2 are out of luck, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“The specific expenses you’re able to write off vary depending on where you live and how much of your home you use,” says Jon Hill, chairman and CEO of the executive search firm The Energists. “Federally, you can write off the space used as your home office, as well as necessary services like phone and Wi-Fi or the purchase of office-related equipment such as printers, and computers.”
Cutting Out Pet Care Costs
Pet owners far and wide are often wracked with guilt about those long days spent at the office while Fido is home alone. Enter dog walkers, doggie day care, and dog sitters — all of which come at a hefty price tag over the course of a week or month. Working from home reduces the need for all of that. “Dog owners here in New York routinely pay $15 to $30 per day for doggie day care. Now your pup can stay at home and spend time with you,” says Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale.
Related: Adorable Photos of Pets “Working” From Home
Reducing Housing Costs
And finally, perhaps one of the most significant benefits of working from home is the freedom to live wherever you want when not constrained by having to locate in a community that provides a reasonable daily commute to an office. “This is a key point I’ve noticed as flexible working has grown. No longer are people required to move to a city in which your business has an office,” says Payne of AnywhereWorks. “Because people can work anywhere, they have the freedom to choose a location that suits them.” That freedom translates into direct savings for those who opt to live somewhere less expensive than a pricey urban center.