How Remote Work Affects Your Budget
you are the only one who can decide if this career move is what is best for you
Have you ever wished you work from home? You’re not alone. In fact, remote work has become extremely popular in comparison to bricks and mortar work spaces.
But what about the pros and cons this drastic change can have on your budget?
I've been fortunate enough to land a position where I work from the comfort of my own home. Through this past two years, I've had to find ways to be productive, convince myself to wear real clothes instead of pyjamas (lol) and find a flow that proves productive.
These are all important aspects of the transition from office to remote-life, but the other aspect that many people forget to consider is the financial impact that working remotely has on your budget. I've both increased and reduced expenses since making the switch – but where? What about whether or not these budget adjustments make remote work worthwhile? Let's find out.
You’ll see expenses in your budget increase
After I started to work from home, I quickly realized that our grocery budget increased by around $100/month simply because I was actually eating every single meal from home. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and a couple of snacks was the daily ritual. This change was extremely great for my health, because I didn’t eat fast food nearly as often, but it was also really hard on my budget. I was used to having a really modest grocery bill, but now I needed to learn to find creative meals that weren’t costing an arm and a leg. This increase is always worth it because more than anything, your health comes first. Just make sure you aren’t snacking all day long and can still maintain a good balance.
Who knew I would miss our Keurig coffee machine so much? For me, the minute I started to work from home I was actually really missing (some) aspects of the human connection. As a human of the internet, I didn’t want to admit that it was nice to communicate with people on the daily. So, instead of admitting defeat and becoming a hermit, I started to visit coffee shops a few times a week for my social interactions. Not only was it great for my mental health, but it was also a new atmosphere for me to work in on the occasion, and it actually proved to be a really productive space. The problem? It was also super expensive. Recently, I opted for a new French Press and it’s completely changed my world. Be careful you don’t turn this outing into a daily field trip.
Once you start working from home, you might find that your electricity, heat, water and probably most likely your internet bills will go up just slightly. It’s obvious that this expenses will increase considering every office pays for these things. The only difference is that now you do, too. Some companies will offset this expense one way or another, but if they don’t, be sure to check out what kind of tax breaks are available for you. In Canada, here is a great form your employer can fill out, that will help you to determine whether you’re able to get any refund for your incurred housing expenses. Obviously, this is all a matter of seasonally based pricing. In the summer, I can totally justify the increased expense, but I have a harder time when the bills start to go up come winter.
Although you probably hate your Windows desktop at work and despise having to use a computer that blocks you from doing things you really need to do (like download a quick plug-in without IT awkwardly coming in to type in the admin password), it’s free. Yup, sure. That chunky old computer is slow as ever – but it’s also nice to know that if something happens to it, you’re not responsible to fix it. For me, every single time something crashes on my Macbook, I have to take time out of my day to work out any bugs, and I also have to pay for whatever it costs to have it fixed. Same goes with your cell phone. This expense increase is the most frustrating of all. At the speed technology changes these days, it’s tough to ensure you have the best product you need to get the job done. But honestly, I think this is a struggle no matter where you work.
You’ll see expenses in your budget decrease
The dreaded commute
One of the most costly expenses you’ll incur working from an office is transportation. Not only do you have to get there each day, you also have to cover whatever expenses come along with your choice of travel. If you have a vehicle you’ll cover gas, insurance, registration and parking. If you take the train, you’ll have to pay for your pass, and factor in the added time that takes away from your personal life. Some workplaces offer compensation for this part of your budget, but for the most part, it’s all on you to worry about how you’ll get to work on your own dime. Commuting sucks and is what makes working from home my winner, always and all ways.
Back when I worked in an office, the dress code policy was pretty strict. You had to wear business casual attire, and that included footwear that wasn’t comfortable in the slightest. Each year, I’d have to buy new clothes that weren’t completely worn out, and also weren’t my favourite what so ever. Now that I work from home, I wear my typical clothing – but have a few professional outfits for the occasional coffee or in-person business meeting. My clothing budget has significantly reduced, and I’ve also been able to clear out a large chunk of my closet. Comfier clothes make for a more productive employee
Part of working in an office means that you’ll likely be invited out to social outings. Whether it’s a baseball team that plays once a week or a department of people that love to go for wings every Friday, these expenses can add up quickly. Working from home, the only social outings I get invited to are video chats to discuss new projects and honestly – love that for me. I’d much rather spend my entertainment budget going to concerts or at the zoo with my daughter because I’m totally that mom now.
As I mentioned in the expenses that will increase, on the flip side of food, you’ll see your dining out budget decrease. Less work lunches and more homemade salads are the new reality when you start to work from home and honestly, it’s awesome. This also leaves a bit more room in your budget to dine out with people you don’t get to see as much as your coworkers, like friends and family. Bottom line, this change can be great for the wallet or it can stay the exact same. The choice is yours.
Working from home isn’t for everyone
Anytime you make a professional decision, your budget should be a main factor for the final decision. However, that doesn’t mean it should be the only decision. For many people, these expenses that I found to be frustrating, are enjoyable parts of their life. Many people love hanging out with their coworkers throughout the week, and hey – even on the weekends.
Whichever way you swing it, remote work has its pros and cons. From the lack of social interaction to the benefit of an increased productivity level, you are the only one who can decide if this career move is what is best for you.