The pandemic has brought a lot of changes to the workplace — not the least of which is shifting the workplace from office buildings to home offices. With the dangers posed by the pandemic, many employers have been forced to come around on the notion of remote work — and it looks like even after the worst has subsided, remote work will be here to stay.
There are a few perks to working at home: comfort, familiarity, a chance to cuddle with your dog — as well as some difficulties, such as the blurry distinction between work life and personal life. But one of the bigger perks is how much money you’ll save by working from home.
We’ve all read the money-saving articles talking about skipping that Starbucks latte on the way home or bringing lunch from home rather than eating out. But is it actually that much more expensive to eat out?
The answer is a big yes. Not only do most restaurants do a300% markup on the food they serve, but the final bill for a single meal is likely to befive times more than eating a meal at home — and that doesn’t count the costs of transportation, parking, and other ancillary expenses.
The average American household spends about 5% of their budget on eating out, as compared to 10% of the budget eating at home. By making more meals at home — especiallycheap, healthy ones that are easy to prepare — you can put away a lot of extra cash.
Owning a car is expensive! The daily commute to and from work costs money for fuel, road tolls, parking, and more, not to mention the wear-and-tear of commuting on your vehicle and the assorted maintenance costs that come with car ownership. Chances are, if you’re working from home, the money you spend on gasoline has plummeted — not to mention all the other car-related expenses you’re not paying for anymore. You can save even more money contacting your insurer about a lower usage-based rate (orshop around and compare insurers to find one who offers a better plan).
Maintaining a work wardrobe can be costly, especially for women, who may not only have to maintain a professional wardrobe for a business environment, but also invest in cosmetics and jewelry. If your business involves seeing clients in person from time to time, it’s a good idea to invest in some smart-casual items suited to a meeting or Zoom call. But the rest of the time? You’re likely to be dressing in the official work-from-home pandemic gear: sweatpants, tee shirts, tracksuits or even pajamas.
Those who have been working from home since long before the pandemic already know the score: you can get some tax breaks by using your home as your office! Depending on your work circumstances, you may be able to write off a portion of your rent or mortgage if a certain percentage of your home is dedicated to work. You can also write off things like power, telephone, internet costs, travel costs and even material purchases like laptops, office supplies, and printer paper. One word of advice, though — don’t go this alone. Hire an accountant who has expertise in this area.
Another all-too-common expense for working families: childcare. Good childcare can beprohibitively expensive and difficult to find, making it even more difficult to work outside the home. But if your home is your workplace, you not only get the financial benefit of no longer paying for childcare, but you get to spend more time with your children. And let’s face it — your pets probably love it too, especially the dogs.
What Should You Do with the Money Saved?
So now that you’ve accrued that pile of sweet WFH cash, what are you going to do with it all? You likely have lots of recreational ideas on how to spend it — but let’s take a moment to talk about the more practical uses for your surplus.
If your WFH job doesn’t offer benefits — whichsome do, but more than likely not — then you should set some money aside for those additional expenses you’ll be responsible for yourself now: medical insurance, retirement funds, and so on. Since you may no longer have an employer providing contributions to your health insurance and 401K, you should definitely look into taking care of that yourself. And don’t forget the tax bill, which might be steeper than you’re used to if you’re working from home.
You could also set some funds aside for business-related expenses like office supplies, PC repairs, and equipment.
Income can be erratic when working for yourself, so paying down debts is always a good idea when things are flush — not to mention setting aside an emergency fund to cover expenses in case there’s a dip in your workload and you’re suddenly not making quite as much cash.
Published at Tue, 26 Oct 2021 13:35:04 -0400