Working from your own home or remotely anywhere in the world can greatly improve your happiness and work-life balance.
But one of the major benefits of being a remote worker is that you’ll most likely experience saving money by working from home. And I say “most likely” as some people sometimes are not great at managing finances or sticking to a budget no matter the situation.
However, you have a great opportunity to better your finances when you work from home and create a better future by keeping more money in your savings (or investments).
Below are the ways you might expect to save money working remotely and how I’ve lowered my expenses since becoming a full-time remote employee.
How Can I Save Money Working From Home?
Whether you are a salaried employee, paid hourly, or on a contract/freelance basis – remote work can save you money in the following ways:
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Cost of Living
- Child Care
- Gym & Workout Classes
- Alcohol & Cocktails
- Tax Breaks (Potentially)
Let’s explore each of these categories further to see the money you can save by working from home.
The most obvious way you’ll save money working from home is your commuting costs.
Whether you have a vehicle you drive every day, take a bus/subway/train, or use a rideshare app (like Uber or Lyft) – your expenses quickly grow when extrapolated throughout the year.
If you own a vehicle, for example, you’ll be spending an average of almost $2k per year on gas (which will fluctuate due to gas prices).
It was found that Americans are spending about $1,837 a year on gas. You might be spending way more or less, pending how far your commute to work in the office would be.
Some people drive an hour or more each day to their place of work, which will end up causing multiple gas stops throughout the week. No thanks.
I can say that working remotely full-time became a gamechanger for my commuting costs.
Previously, I only had a 7-mile commute one way, but it still added up. Now I fill my gas tank 1x per month on average and put maybe 2,000 miles per year on my car. Plus, no commuting stress from traffic and bad drives. Winning!
2. Vehicle Maintenance
Beyond the cost of gas, you also need to factor in car insurance and ongoing maintenance to keep your vehicle in top shape.
When you are driving more and commuting five days a week, that’s a ton of mileage as well as wear and tear on your vehicle. This can mean more oil changes, new tires, filters and batteries, and additional services that will be needed to keep your vehicle in the best shape possible.
While many of the vehicle services are standard, you may also experience more costs due to so much driving or increased services pending how old your vehicle is currently.
According to a study by AAA, a new car’s routine maintenance and repairs could cost an average of $0.09 per mile. So If you drive 20,000 miles per year, on average you can expect to pay roughly $1,800 on maintenance annually.
But pending how much yearly mileage, age of the vehicle, and how well you take care of it – your vehicle costs can be quite costly compared to being a remote worker.
Honestly, you might not think that food costs are a huge expense when you work in an office until you become a remote worker!
When I was in the office I would go out to lunch more often with co-workers, hit up the snack vending machines, or stop by a local coffee joint for a snack or drink. it was pretty much routine, to the point where it was four or five days of the week. And sometimes, I even did that for breakfast!
That’s the challenge of having an office near a lot of places like that. But it also was starting to add up and drain my cash.
I took a look at one month back then and I was close to $400 spent. And if I continued that every month for the year, I’d be at $4,800 just for lunch and snacks while at work. Yikes!
Remote work can help eliminate those costs because you have your own food at home, which is much cheaper to buy than in restaurants or taking constant coffee breaks throughout the week.
It certainly can be easier to snack at home too when your kitchen is around the corner, but I found that I cut over 70% of food costs by being a remote worker.
4. Cost of Living
One of the cool things about remote work is it allows you the freedom to live where you want (generally). What’s even better about working from home is you don’t need to stay in an expensive city or state.
If saving money is important to you, now you can move to a more affordable place that might have a much lower cost of living. And any good remote company won’t lower your salary just because you moved somewhere else.
Now there are two things to keep in mind here.
- First, you want to confirm with your employer what limitations there might be with working remotely. For example, a company may want you to be in the United States only or maybe working in a certain timezone. Just confirm before making any big moves.
- Second, improving your cost of living only works if you stick to your budget.Say you move to a place with significantly less costs, but now you are enticed to spend a bit more. Quickly that can snowball and now you are spending and buying more, but still aren’t ahead after your move.
Looking for more? Here are some of the most affordable cities to consider living in.
5. Child Care
Childcare is a huge expense for families, especially when both parents are working and the children might not be in school full-time yet.
“The average cost of providing center-based care for an infant in the U.S. is $1,230 per month. And many families who make the median income in their states cannot afford to send their infant or toddler to child care. In some states, child care costs can take up to 18% of their family’s income.” (Source)
And that number is conservative because I know a few parents that spend much more than $1,200 per week on childcare!
One of the benefits of a parent or both parents working from home can reduce the need for childcare. Maybe childcare is more of a part-time basis now, reducing the costs significantly.
Or your family might be able to balance focusing on your children while working because your office is at home. And now, you can potentially cut out childcare altogether if you find a system that works for you at home. As long as you can balance proper attention to your children without disrupting the quality of your work too.
Working remotely might not dramatically save you money on clothing, but you definitely will be able to cut back. Generally, when you work in the office, you may need specific business attire, button-ups, shoes, and more.
But with remote work, you won’t need a professional outfit every day. As you join online meetings and events, you definitely still want to be well-groomed and presentable (you don’t want to look like one of these work from home memes!).
However, with remote work, you can dress more comfortably and relaxed. Plus, you don’t need a new fresh outfit on every single workday.
Although I’m not a true minimalist, I do keep my work attire simple.
I tend to audit my clothes and potentially buy new ones maybe once a year. And while I am a sucker for quality and have my brand preferences, I certainly have scaled back since working from home.
I’m typically in the same one or two pairs of shorts, a nice shirt or hoodie, and that’s it. I don’t worry much about trends, what co-workers are wearing, nor do I fill my closet with more and more.
7. Gym & Workout Classes
Having a gym membership is certainly good for your physical and mental health, plus gets you out socially. But it also can increase your expenses. This is one option that you’ll need to determine if it’s worth it to you or not.
For me, I cut paying for a gym membership because I have all the workout equipment I need at home and do not need to commute anywhere to do so.
The challenge with a gym membership is I had to wait until after work, then drive to the place, workout, and then get home to make dinner and try to unwind. By the time all that was done, I needed to get to bed because I had to wake up at 6:15 AM.
Now, I can fit in a workout any time of the day and don’t need to travel anywhere to do so. While you may need to invest some money into workout equipment, you should save money in the long run.
I know some gyms and exercise classes aren’t too expensive (👋 Planet Fitness), others can be pricey pending where you live and what places you prefer. But with Youtube, online articles, and free fitness apps – you can do plenty without forking over your cash.
8. Alcohol & Cocktails
If you’ve been in the traditional office setting, you’ve probably been to a few happy hours or even just going out with some co-workers after a long day.
This may happen more often for some than others, but it is an additional expense that sometimes you don’t realize how much it costs you.
Again, connecting with colleagues and socializing is not only fun but can build better working relationships.
But as you should be well aware, alcohol and mixed drinks can be expensive! Bars and restaurants charge a premium and are where the bulk of places make their money. No seriously, check out the statistic about alcohol sales below.
In the restaurant industry, there’s no business with higher margins than bars. This is because the markup on alcoholic beverages is much higher than on food. Beverages see a profit margin of 60-70%. (Source)
With remote work, you can still connect with colleagues virtually and grab your favorite drink which will cost you less. Buying bottles of your favorite drink from a grocery store or liquor store is far cheaper than buying a few drinks each week at a local bar.
9. Tax Breaks (Potentially)
I’m certainly no accountant nor understand all the tax laws, so please consult with a professional if you have more specific questions. But I still wanted to call it out, because there can be tax breaks for you when you work from home.
The reason I added “potentially” is because it depends on your specific work status and what country you live and work in.
For example, if you have your own business that you work remotely or are a full-time remote freelancer, then you may have ways to expense things.
Anything that relates to your professional work or business, like phone bills, internet services, computer equipment, or other “office” expenses.
It might not put a ton of money back in your pocket, but every bit helps. And you 100% should take advantage of any legal options you have for “writing off” expenses. Remember, consult with an accountant first to really understand what options you might have.
There you have it, the best ways working from home will save you money! Some of these above areas may apply to you and others not as much, but you will start putting more cash back into your pockets.
As you start saving more money, think about how you can put that to work for yourself and your family. Ensure you are putting more in your savings accounts, investments, or even put some away for a nice family vacation.
Happy remote working!