For the millions of employees who are still lucky enough to work from home, despite droves of employees being summoned back into the office over the last several months, it’s time to re-evaluate your monthly budget and get the most out of your paycheck while you still have the chance to save on expenses such as commuting, clothing, and lunches.
As many would already know by now, the cost of ordinary goods has risen sharply over the last year due to sticky inflation that has in more recent months begun to decline.
However, there is still a long way to go before consumers, including work-from-home employees, will see the true effect of lower inflation taking shape in the wider economy. There are still some analysts predicting an upcoming recession, which could further derail the economy’s road to recovery following the pandemic.
While you may still have the opportunity to work remotely, for now at least, it’s best to take as much advantage of working from home to help build up your savings and manage your money better.
Downsize Or Relocate
A big trend that took place throughout the pandemic was remote working employees leaving urban areas, such as metropolitan cities, and relocating to quieter and more affordable Zoom Towns.
If you’re looking to save a lot of money, consider downsizing your apartment, or maybe relocating somewhere more affordable. This might not be the most convenient option, but it would be worth your time, and budget to look for a more affordable place.
Additionally, you can always rent out a bedroom in a shared apartment, or if you have an extra bedroom in your place, consider putting it on the market for rent. Make sure that you think this through thoroughly, and that you do proper analysis of the situation before giving up your apartment, or dropping everything you have and relocating across town.
Cut Down On Clothing And Work Attire
Now that you don’t necessarily need to dress up for the office every day, you might want to start cutting down on buying business attire.
While the occasional meeting here and there, whether it’s via Zoom or in-person might require you to dress the part, there’s a good chance you don’t need to have a professional-looking outfit for every day of the week if you’re working from the comfort of your home.
Make the time to work through your closet, and consider whether you want to keep certain pieces. For the pieces, you no longer require, set up a page where you can sell them online, either on a place such as Facebook Marketplace, or even eBay.
Selling your business suit, or even that leather laptop bag you no longer need will help bring an extra few dollars into your pocket, and also help you clean out your closet at the same time.
Remember to keep a few items for yourself, and even make sure to have a spare in the event that you are suddenly recalled to the office.
Plan Your Meals
Yes, it’s now easier than ever to quickly run out to the nearby deli or café to pick up a ready-made meal. Spending a few dollars on lunch every day, when you could be preparing something at home, can be a lot cheaper, and potentially more nourishing.
Morning takeaway coffees, a lunch date here and there, or even that pastry you enjoy before your morning meeting can all add up.
Instead, have a weekly planner, whereby you can plan your meals. This will help encourage you to eat out less, but also help decide what to make for lunch on the days that you are working from home.
You don’t need to plan every meal, but if you feel like this would make things easier for you during the week, then definitely give it a try.
Make Your Own Coffee
Not to sound like a boomer, but making coffee at home, especially when working only a few feet from your kitchen can help save you a good deal of money during the week.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the average price of a cup of coffee rose by 7.6% between 2020 and 2021, costing consumers $4.90 per cup on average.
Making coffee at home might seem like an illegitimate way of saving more money, but when you begin to add up the weekly outings to your local coffee shop for your morning fix, against the price of buying a bag of beans to have at home, you quickly realize how much money you could be stocking into your savings every week.
For the days that you’d much rather get a coffee from your local café, make sure to have it worked into your budget, and that you don’t overspend on luxury purchases.
Make Use Of Public Transportation
For remote employees who reside in cities and towns with well-equipped public transportation networks, consider how using these systems will help you save on regular commuting and driving.
You might find yourself using your car somewhat less, now that you don’t need to go into the office anymore, that’s if you already had a car to start with.
For the days that you do need to use your car, see whether it’s possible to make use of public transportation instead, this way you’re saving on things such as gas, parking, and maintenance.
If you’re thinking that using your car less won’t save you any money, recent data suggests that Americans spend anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000 annually on transportation. Wherever possible, consider cutting down on using your car, and rather opt for more budget-friendly alternatives.
Reconsider Gym And Fitness Memberships
While a gym or fitness membership will help you stay in shape, and give you some time away from home, now that you’re working from home, you might have more time in your daily schedule to work out in your home instead of at the gym.
Many people often take out gym memberships in areas that are in close proximity to or from their office. However, you can easily get the same type of workout from your home gym, or even take your exercise activities outside to a nearby park or recreation center.
Doing your exercises at home, or even in a public place might not be the same as at the gym, but canceling expensive gym memberships will help you put more money towards more important financial goals.
Join Community Thrift Groups
Looking to furnish your new home office? Maybe you’re in the market for a more comfortable desk chair or want to sell off your old computer.
There are dozens of community thrift groups on social media, where local community members often sell or swap out their items. In some cases, you might stumble across a “buy nothing group” that operates on the basis of exchanging items, or even giving them away for free.
Yes, these items might not be in pristine condition, or have a few dents and scratches, but if you’re serious about saving and cutting down on your expenses, then making use of these alternatives, instead of buying new items, will help you save a good deal of money right from the beginning.
Regulate Electricity Usage
Now that you’re spending more time at home, you might find yourself spending more money on utilities such as energy, gas, and water. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing that you’re now responsible for keeping the lights running in your home office.
With this in mind, ensure that you make the necessary adjustments to your daily routine, to keep your electricity bill as low as possible.
Turn off your computer when you’re not using it, or off the clock. Switch off the lights in and around your home during the day, and opt to open your windows during the day instead of using the air conditioner.
Regulate your central heating, by lowering the thermostat in the winter, and decrease the heating when you’re working in the office. Consider using alternative heating for your office instead of relying on your central heating which can hike up your electricity bill.
Simple and small changes can make a big difference in the long run, even if you don’t think so in the beginning.
Manage Work-Related Expenses
There are specific tax-related requirements for freelancers and employees working from home. While these may differ, from state to state, overall, remote-working individuals can claim different tax credits.
Things such as buying new equipment, or even having an office in your house, or maybe using your car for business-related purposes can help you decrease your annual tax bill.
Make sure that you read and understand the tax requirements for remote-working employees and freelancers. Additionally, take extra caution when managing your budget, to ensure you keep track of any work-related expenses.
With a bit more flexibility in your daily schedule, you can now spend more time comparison shopping for specific things such as cheaper car insurance, or even a better and more affordable internet provider.
Convenience comes at the cost of the consumer and as a remote working employee looking to save more money and budget better, rather take some time to shop around online or in-store for the price that fits your budget.
If you feel that you are overpaying for something, make an effort to negotiate rates with your service supplier.
Minimize The Need For Co-Working Space
Co-working spaces can be a great place to help stimulate your creativity and network with other like-minded individuals. However, these monthly and annual subscriptions for coworking offices can be a lot more expensive over the long term than you might think.
Consider whether or not these spaces will add value to your work, and how they will improve your productivity. We’re not saying you should completely dismiss these spaces, but if you’re not in need of working from a coworking space, rather settle for your home office where you already have everything you need.
To Finish Off
The pleasures of working from home come with the chance to cut down on unnecessary expenses that have been chipping away at your disposable income. While you might need to upgrade some of your equipment, or even purchase a few office-related items at first, taking the time to plan and budget your remote work experience will help you save more money, and also make you more aware of how you can effectively manage your money to suit your lifestyle.