Is Working from Home Cheaper?

Home office view 2Enjoy this post by my staff writer Jordann.

Michelle isn’t the only one who’s making the switch to working from home, I recently accepted a job that is 100% remote, and as of this Monday, I’m working remotely – from home.

This isn’t the first time I’ve worked from home, I actually have done it in two other jobs, so while I know what to expect – it’s still an adjustment. One of the biggest things to change – besides talking to coworkers exclusively through a screen, is my budget. Working from home changes my expenses in ways that I didn’t initially anticipate, and it’s not all savings.

Here are some of the ways working from home is good, and bad, for my wallet.

Save On Gas

For one thing, I don’t spend as much money on gas, because I’m not commuting anymore. I wake up, do some housework, make my breakfast, and sit down on the couch to get started with work.

If I chose, I don’t even have to leave the house! This is my first month of working remotely, but I wouldn’t be surprised to come in under budget for gas costs this month. I’m also really looking forward to what the decreased mileage is going to do to the maintenance costs for my vehicle – hello less frequent oil changes!

 

Save on Eating Out

Since I’m home, I have absolutely no excuse when it comes to eating out for breakfast or lunch. When I worked in an office, I would sometimes fail to make my lunch at home, and end up buying my lunch.

Usually this only happened once per week or so, but still, that adds up! Working at home means that I’ll never have to buy my lunch again – unless I chose to – as a treat.

 

Save On Work Wardrobe

Now, I don’t spend as much as some people on wardrobe, since I’m trying to be frugal and get out of debt. That said, I do like to have at least a few decent outfits for work.

I recently bit the bullet and spent some money to upgrade my wardrobe. Thanks to my new job, that clothing will hopefully last me a good long time. That’s because I’m mostly going to be working while wearing pajamas, except while I’m in video meetings, of course.

 

Increased Grocery Costs

Staying at home also means that I’ll spend more on groceries. Since I’ll be eating every lunch at home, that should mean our grocery spending will be a bit higher this month. That said, I’m going to be very vigilant about not snacking just because there is food within easy reach – that’s a recipe for a bigger grocery budget, and bigger waistline.

 

Increased Office Expenses

After deciding to accept the job and work from home, I knew I needed to upgrade my office equipment. My laptop is five years old and can barely handle WordPress. I’m also going to need a printer and a steady supply of pens and notebooks. Electricity costs will most likely increase as well, as you would be home more. Compare electricity costs if you can. These are things that I’ve always bought occasionally, but I can count on an increase in purchasing frequency now.

So, is working from home cheaper? For me, I think it will be. Saving money on gas and car maintenance, along with work wardrobe will probably be much greater that the small increase in grocery costs. Working from home can be a wonderful way to increase productivity and save money – if you have the opportunity to do it, I highly recommend it!

Have you ever worked from home? Did you find it saved you money?

 

Comments

  1. moneystepper says

    I would imagine that its about even. Whilst you will save money on certain costs such as transport and dining, this will probably be offset by supplying your own office supplies and energy.

    It would be great if you could log this in your budget to determine exactly what the difference is going forward. I would love to see the exact figures.
    moneystepper recently posted..Free competitions – how much can you earn?My Profile

  2. dojo says

    I work from home and it does save a LOT of money. If I was to work at an office in the city, I’d lose probably 1/4 or even 1/3 of my pay just to be able to go there every day. Not to mention the time I’d waste in traffic.

  3. Barb says

    Hi Jordann,

    I’ve been working from home as an independent contractor for 8 years and overall it has saved our family.

    Granite, the electric bill will slightly increase and my water and sewer bill slightly increased, but my savings on my wardrobe, dry cleaning, accessories, gas, lunches, car maintenance and car insurance has outweighed those two minor increases.

    My grocery bill has went down a little. Although I packed my lunch when I worked outside the home, I eat more leftovers, not sandwiches. Less food wasted too!

    Also, I now use more coupons and found ways to save more by stacking coupons.

    My office is upstairs and the kitchen and dining room is downstairs. When I am working, I don’t have time to run down for a snack, which is probably a good thing!

  4. Emily @ Urban Departures says

    Yes, definitely! My husband and I work from home part time and it’s reduced our monthly transportation expenses significantly. And since we don’t have to commute, we end up billing longer hours- but with the ability to do laundry and dishes during “breaks”! We haven’t seen any increased costs (we eat leftovers from lunch either way and haven’t upgraded our office). Some companies even pay for basic office capital and working expenses, like phone and/or internet, if you work from home full time.

    • Jordann says

      My favourite thing so far is how clean my home is staying. Whenever I need a break from the screen, I do a little laundry or wash some dishes – it’s kept things nice and tidy and I’m loving it.

  5. Emily @ Urban Departures says

    Yes, definitely! My husband and I work from home part time and it’s reduced our monthly transportation expenses significantly. And since we don’t have to commute, we end up billing longer hours- but with the ability to do laundry and dishes during “breaks”! We haven’t seen any increased costs (we eat leftovers from lunch either way and haven’t upgraded our office). Some companies even pay for basic office capital and working expenses, like phone and/or internet, if you work from home full time.

  6. kelly @stayingonbudget says

    I agree working from home is less expensive. Plus if it’s your full time gig you can look into a tax write off, so even more savings. (Consult an adviser to be sure) Not having the commute is a great plus–way less non-work stress!

  7. Michelle says

    I think we will end up saving money because we won’t have to spend money on gas, and we will be able to cook at home more. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping!

  8. Sarah Greesonbach says

    I’m 100% virtual, and these are totally accurate for me. I love being able to write off office equipment, though! Another secret cost: fast internet and software! I upgraded Hootsuite and I’d like to upgrad Feed.ly and BufferApp, and those costs add up.

  9. Rebecca says

    I am currently working from home doing a variety of things including essay writing. Working from home is a long old process and takes time to get it right – I don’t suppose I could get you to write my essay? Suffering total burnout!

  10. C. the Romanian says

    Working from home is definitely cheaper. You indeed have some increases in the budget in some areas, but overall you’ll save more. Not mention that not eating out is the healthier option here, as long as you don’t get used to eating unhealthy snacks, of course.

    • Jordann says

      Definitely! I feel that it’s a lot easier to control my consumption of unhealthy snacks when I’m at home. When I’m at work it’s just a matter of hopping in the car and heading over to the store.

  11. Mrs PoP says

    Do you get supplements to pay for your Internet access and electricity? That’s how many of my telecommuting friends have it, as well as company issued technology.

    • Jordann says

      I do have company issued technology, but no supplements for my electricity or internet usage, since I’d be consuming the internet anyway. If my power bill goes way up in the winter, maybe it might be a good idea to mention an electricity bill supplement.

  12. Little House says

    I think, for most people, working from home is cheaper, especially if the previous commute was long. Energy costs will go up, but it probably won’t be as much as the car maintenance, wardrobe requirements, or temptations to eat out. The only downside is lack of social contact. My husband has been working from home for years and he sometimes suffers from “cabin fever.” ;)
    Little House recently posted..Five Ways to Tackle Dirt in the Family HomeMy Profile

    • Jordann says

      The lack of social contact definitely takes some getting used to! I don’t use my voice all day so now I lose it easily when I talk with friends and family.

    • Jordann says

      I live in the middle of nowhere, and the nearest shop is a 10 minute drive away, so that temptation is quite reduced for me! I have been walking my dog more though.

  13. Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia says

    I’ve been a permanent teleworker for about the past 4 years and I can unequivocally say that, yes, working from home is absolutely cheaper for me. While there might be a slight increase in things like grocery bills, those amounts are likely far less than what you’re saving by not eating lunches out (which is so much easier to succumb to while in the office). In the end, the net is significant savings.

    Also, here’s another way you save: opportunity cost of commuting. In other words, all that time spent getting to and from work can now be spent doing other activities, perhaps money making ones!
    Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia recently posted..Move Here To Get A Guaranteed IncomeMy Profile

    • Jordann says

      While this is true for most people, my commute was only ten minutes, so I’m not saving much that way. Although – I do spend that extra ten minutes tidying my house, so it’s definitely better than spending it driving.

  14. Done by Forty says

    I’ve found working from home to be great financially: no commute, able to take the scooter or bike more often (due to freedom choosing time to ride), eating lunches out turns to eating lunches in, less money on work clothes…

    The only cost that might go up is my bar tab, as I find I need to get more social interaction with friends rather than coworkers, and that sometimes involves going out.

  15. Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com says

    Having worked from home and commuted in my boxers for the past 10 years I have been able to negate the extra grocery costs. My wife and I will make a little extra dinner which makes for great left-overs for lunch the next day. The added cost is very small.

  16. Kristin says

    I work from home and it definitely I definitely save on gas and stress from traffic! I am in the same boat too, my laptop is three years old (not even that old!) but I can feel it slowly declining. I am going to hold onto it as long as I can, though!

    • Jordann says

      I actually landed my job through my blog – it’s a writing job, so that makes sense I guess. My biggest advice would be to develop a presence in the area you’d like to work in – mine was finance writing, so I started my blog.

  17. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says

    I can see where working from home would definitely help out a budget! You covered the biggest one for me – less money would need to be spent on a work wardrobe. Professional attire is expensive! And the gas you’d save as well as less wear and tear on your vehicle/less maintenance (if you drive a car, that is, instead of using public transportation) would probably be significant enough to offset the cost you’d start incurring with office supplies.

    Another way working from home may be beneficial financially is the fact that you could have quite a few things to write off come tax time. If you pay for your own internet, office supplies, and have a dedicated space for your office in your home – those are all things that you can write off on your taxes. Take advantage of that opportunity!

  18. Craig Ballantyne says

    Do you have any ideas on working from home jobs if so could you let me no i would love to earn some extra money.

  19. Ree Klein says

    You bring up some good points, Jordann! Except for a 10 week contract this summer where I went in to the office, I have been self-employed since November of last year. I have definitely noticed savings in the following categories:

    - fuel and car maintenance
    - dining out
    - clothing
    - makeup (hey, that’s an added benefit, too, don’t have to put on makeup everyday!)

    Extra expenses come in the form of:
    - groceries
    - higher utilities (I use more electricity and gas since I’m home so much)
    - office supplies

    I love most of the upsides of working at home; however, I was surprised to discover that I get far less exercise. It turns out that I’m so excited to get up and work on my business that I go straight to the computer and then never get up except to get a snack! I’ve got to work on that!!!

  20. Ree Klein says

    You bring up some good points, Jordann! Except for a 10 week contract this summer where I went in to the office, I have been self-employed since November of last year. I have definitely noticed savings in the following categories:

    - fuel and car maintenance
    - dining out
    - clothing
    - makeup (hey, that’s an added benefit, too, don’t have to put on makeup everyday!)

    Extra expenses come in the form of:
    - groceries
    - higher utilities (I use more electricity and gas since I’m home so much)
    - office supplies

    I love most of the upsides of working at home; however, I was surprised to discover that I get far less exercise. It turns out that I’m so excited to get up and work on my business that I go straight to the computer and then never get up except to get a snack! I’ve got to work on that!!!

  21. Kallin says

    Time is money. Y ou can definitely save on waiting for traffic and do something more at home. Like other readers say you can save on gas, food, clothing and many more.

    • Jordann says

      There are definitely tax deductions to be had, but I have to be careful. Between my side business, my husband’s full time business, and now working from home, we’ll have to be very careful not to claim things twice!

  22. Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt says

    I work from home and have found that I’ve definitely saved on fuel, work clothes and food too. My grocery bill hasn’t increased that much as I tend to eat sandwiches or salads for lunch most days which are pretty cheap to make. It’s tricky not to snack though! I can allocate a proportion of my utilities bill towards my tax too which helps.
    Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt recently posted..Why you need to be happy in your jobMy Profile

  23. Ronald "Dion Lynk" Carroll says

    Funny. You are essentially “hiding” from the world when you’re working from home. I can think back to not having gas money to get out the house and get to my 9 to 5, but I had a 200.00 plus day online. It was at that point I realized that working outside the home not only damages the soul, but it also damages your pockets. It takes money to make money one way or another, why not spend that money on entrepreneurship.

  24. Lance @ Money Life and More says

    We can track our electricity costs by day on our utility provider and we spend more when we’re home than when we’re not by a dollar or two a day usually. I would think groceries would go up to for me because I would eat more prepared food for lunches that would be more expensive, rather than just cheap sandwiches I take to work.
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    • Jordann says

      Strangely, I don’t think my grocery costs are going to go up by much. I usually just have a snack and tea at lunch time, and that gets me through the day just fine.

  25. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says

    I would agree that utility costs can go up a bit for folks working from home. When my husband was unemployed for 3 months, we definitely had a higher utility bill despite it being winter when our building-paid-for heat was on. Just having lights on and more computer and TV usage adds up.

    Good luck with the transition though! To stop snacking, I’d make lunches still so you have a set amount of food already prepped and easy to access when it’s time to lunch.
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted..Getting up and dusting yourself offMy Profile

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