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11 Ways to Save Money and Time While Working from Home

Ways to Save Money and Time While Working from Home

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In my former 9-5 life, I had to spend a chunk of change just to support the requirement of working in a commercial common area. As a blogger I get to work remotely… whether that’s at home or anywhere else doesn’t really matter. There are some obvious expenses that I no longer have, but I was really dumbfounded by the change in my monthly budget.

The small things that I no longer buy to support a corporate lifestyle really add up. Below are the ways I saved money while working from home. Some will apply to all, and all to some… if you have started to work from home recently be sure to post what you have found you have started to save on in the comments.

  1. Dry-cleaning / Laundry

    Saving money by not having to pay for dry-cleaning saved me approximately $10 a day. With a normal business calendar consisting of 245 working days, that added up to almost $2,500 in after-tax pay saved by just working from home. Not to mention, the positive environmental impact of not going through plastic bags, hangars and chemicals to keep my shirt, slacks and jacket pressed for the scantest of social approval.

    The type of clothes matter in a corporate environment… but at home I could just wear a polo and shorts which came off as professional enough when conducting online video meetings that focused on speakers above the waist only. Saving money and time by not having to act like a peacock day in and day was a no-brainer.

  2. Gas / Fuel / Electricity for my Car

    Like most two income families, my wife and I both had our own cars to get to and from work in addition to sharing school drop off and pick up duties. But working from home changed absolutely everything. One of our cars now has a small film of dust on nearly every surface. The other vehicle appears used, but based on my non-existent gas receipts, it’s unclear what type of propulsion it uses.

    Our normal monthly budget for gasoline for our two hybrids was about $200 a month. Sitting in traffic in the hot Florida sun can wreck any attempts at being eco-friendly. Working from home has dropped that budgeted amount to about $50… adding up to a savings of about $1,800 per year. 

  3. Car Maintenance

    The average person drives their vehicle about 1,000 per month. At this rate, a person would get an oil change and all the additional services that go along with it around 2-3 times per year. Given we have 2 vehicles lets average it out to around 5 oil changes per year. At a cost of about $60 per oil change (and occasional filter / fluid flush) that comes out to about $300 per year.

    Working from home, it appears that we will only be getting may be 1 oil change and service for each vehicle per year. That’s a savings of approximately $180 per year of after-tax money. Additionally, the wear and tear on our vehicles, such as on the engine and tires is also slashed by over half… our vehicles could theoretically last twice as long as if they would have by just working from home!

  4. Car Insurance and Accident Risk

    Saving on car insurance is another big win. By updating your car insurance policy to reflect a lower number of miles driven per month will lower your insurance. I’m not going to post a specific amount on this one since it is highly variable based on your driving history, location, and other factors.

    That said, not only will your premium go down, but your risk of getting into accident will also go down. The chance that you will die or be maimed while driving into work will go to 0… but, because you work from home! I consider that priceless. Who wants to die driving to work.

  5. Clothing

    We have already covered the savings derived from the change in dry cleaning habits but spending less on the threads you wear from day to day is an incredible money saver. Now, my entire outfit consists of a $30 polos and $20 gym shorts versus, an ensemble of clothing that easily was several hundred dollars.

    Dressing to impress‘ has changed to ‘dressing for comfort.’ Comfortable clothes just cost less. They aren’t fitted and generally have some elastic… in my case a lot of elastic. With a few modifications, your new work from home clothing ensemble will likely get you through a gym routine as well.

  6. Restaurants

    There are a couple of reasons why someone working from home may save a chunk of change by modifying their restaurant habits. The first is that you will be now working in a place that also houses YOUR kitchen, YOUR refrigerator and is right outside where you will be doing your work. You can whip something together and throw it in the oven during a meeting with no time lost.

    The second reason you may find that you will be saving money by not going to restaurants is that the whole process of going out for lunch consumes time and money. It takes time to walk out to the parking lot and drive to a restaurant. It takes time to order and wait for someone else to prepare it. It takes a mode of transportation to get to wherever you are going. All of this wasted time is not spent towards earning a paycheck. Thus, the expense of eating at a restaurant is not limited exclusively to the tab and tip.

    The amount of money saved by eating from home versus eating at a restaurant add up quick. You will likely be saving anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per year depending on what type of restaurants you would have been eating at.

    Don’t believe me? Just add up your fancy coffee expenses. You can make fancy coffee at home. Over a decade ago when Starbucks became popular, personal finance gurus would say that you could save $1,000 a year by not spending $5 a day on coffee. $5 coffee is now $8 coffee… at home it’s still just a few cents.

  7. Healthcare (Projected)

    Although it may be difficult to quantify, the savings incurred through having a healthier lifestyle should not be discounted IF you take the opportunity while working from home to eat and exercise in ways that you wouldn’t have if you were stuck in a corporate office. Here are a few things you can do at home that can lead to a healthier lifestyle thus lowering possible healthcare expenses

    1. Cooking fresh food at home
    2. Sitting close to a window and getting some Vitamin D
    3. Taking breaks to step outside for fresh air
    4. Taking frequent walks
    5. Meditating during breaks

  8. Time Shopping

    Working from home may mean having the ability to step away and complete routine tasks at odd times. Being able to get out of the house, not during the throngs of rush hour, to shop for groceries or other items can save you a tremendous amount of time not waiting in traffic or in line while at the store.

    I have personally found this to be highly motivating. It doesn’t really matter what task I am trying to accomplish… whether it’s getting an oil change or picking up a new pair of gym shorts, everything is quicker. I find that I no longer must spend my weekends fighting crowds to do simple tasks… I can do them at odd times during the workday between meetings.

  9. Time waiting at Appointments

    Save money waiting for appointments while working remotely

    Making the assumption that if you can work from home, you can generally work from anywhere could mean that you could make big returns when it comes to medical, vehicular and other appointments.

    Case in point: whenever I schedule an oil change or tire rotation, I set it for the middle of the workday. That way, as I am waiting for it to be completed, I can work in the waiting room on my laptop. No point in wasting any of my personal time completing tasks that don’t require my personal attention.

    Another big win is when you can take advantage of last second appointment times due to others cancelling. If you have ever struggled to get in to see your doctor or chiropractor, you know that being able to take advantage of a last second scheduling snafu could be priceless for your schedule.

  10. Taxes for Home Office Expenses

    Saving money from tax write-offs while working at home

    If your home office is the principal place where you conduct your day-to-day business, whether or not it’s in its own room, you may be able to write off expenses related to working from home on your taxes.

    Suffice it to say that tax law is complicated, and you should always talk to your accountant or tax advisor, but there are a couple of ways to calculate what you can write off.

    • The Standard Option – With this option you can write off specific expenses related to conducting your business and some expenses that are related to your overall home maintenance. Usually these home expenses (e.g. utilities) can’t exceed 10% of the overall bill. Proof of expenses is also generally required.

      The IRS provides a worksheet and document to help work through which expenses are authorized to be deducted. It is called IRS Publication 587 and can be found here

    • The Simplified Option – If you don’t want to be hassled with trying to figure out the minutiae of tax law then there is a simpler way to make the calculation as championed by the IRS. For every square foot of office space in your home, up to a limit of 300 square feet, you can take a deduction of $5.  This means you can deduct up to $1,500.

      Although this amount is likely lower than what you can deduct in the standard option, there is value in not have to find what is allowable and then proving that you have a qualifying expense.

  11. Home Cleaning / Landscaping Services

    If you live in a 2-income family with children, you may have found that conducting basic chores in your house is almost impossible after your commute to and from work, helping the kids with homework, making dinner, and performing some type of personal care (e.g. like brushing your teeth or crying silently in your pillow).

    Thus, you probably at least occassionally pay for your home to be cleaned or your landscape to be manicured. These types of things don’t generally require a lot of skill, but the time savings is what draws us to pay others a hefty amount to complete these tasks. Working from home will allow you to cut or reduce reliance on these services.

    Finding time in the workday, while working from home, to complete a few cleaning tasks each day adds up. Throwing the clothes in the laundry before your 9:00 a.m. meeting over Zoom so that you can fold them after you eat lunch is a trivial task. But as you start doing these things day by day, they add up and will help you relax your need to have others do your chores at steep hourly rates.

Improving your Quality of Life

Working from home can be a true blessing when it comes to saving money. If you focus on areas where your work and personal lives intersect, you fill find great savings can be achieved in both time and money. Spending less money and time on such things as your diet and commute can lead to other benefits that will increase your quality of life.

There are some aspects to working from home that may not be necessarily beneficial. We will want to recognize when we need some in face human interaction. This may cost money. It may require us to drive somewhere or pay for a meal.

Ensuring that we can maintain our new work from home lives will require at least some attention to be paid to how it may affect us over the long term. We should treat ourselves regularly… within reason of course!

Financial Disclaimer and Warning

This is a quick reminder that I write this blog as an expression of my opinion. I always try to write content that moves me and from the heart, however, it should not be considered financial advice. That’s what accountants, tax advisors, investment advisors and other folks with long titles are for. Do your own research and be rewarded handsomely.

Guy Money

As a formally trained Data Scientist I find excitement in writing about Personal Finance and how to view it through a lens filtered by data. I am excited about helping others build financial moats while at the same time helping to make the world a more livable and friendly place.

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