There’s no denying that a virtual office saves a company thousands of dollars. When employees work from home, there’s no need for the company to lease a space, pay utilities, or buy things like printers and toilet paper. But how does all this impact you, the employee?
Turns out working from home can save you money too, especially if you’re doing it right. When you first start working from home you may need to shell out money to set up a desk (this DIY sitting and standing desk is cheap and easy to make), but once you’ve got your office set up, the savings start rolling in. Here are five ways working from home can save you money.
No more commuting or paying for gas
- Estimated savings: up to $550/year
Commuting is expensive–not to mention soul crushing. Simple Texting used average commute data and paired it with gas pricing to estimate just how much working from home saves employees. Using this method, if you live in Seattle, you’ll save $502 a year by working from home while remote workers in Atlanta save over $550 a year. That’s not even taking into account the wear-and-tear on your car.
If you take public transportation most or some of the time, you can still save money. If you’re in New York City, a monthly MetroCard is $121 or $1,452 a year. If you work from home, you’ll probably still need a MetroCard, but you probably wouldn’t need unlimited rides.
Money saved by not buying lunch
- Estimated savings: up to $2,000/year
When you work in an office, you have to take time that morning or the night before planning and packing your lunch. If you forget or don’t have time, your only option is to buy lunch. If lunch out costs $10 on average and you eat out twice a week, that’s $1,040 in extra lunch costs a year. If you eat out four times a week, your annual costs jump to $2,080. If you made lunch at home five days a week and 52 weeks a year, Quartz estimates the cost is $2.50 a meal or $650 a year.
Time translated into financial savings
- Estimated savings: 2 hours a day, 10 hours a work week, 520 hours a year–calculate your savings based on how much your time is worth
While not immediately translatable into money, for most of us, time is our more precious resource and there never seems to be enough of it. When you work from a traditional office, everything takes time. Time to commute to and from work, time after work to hit the gym or squeeze in a run, time to plan and cook dinner, time to call your mom on the phone–the list goes on.
If you work from home, your commute is the time it takes you to walk from your bed to your office (or kitchen table). You can get in your workout during your lunch hour and take a shower during a 10-minute break. You can prep for dinner and call your mom after you sign out for the day and walk the 30 steps to your kitchen.
Money saved by making coffee at home
- Estimated savings: $450/year
When you work from home, the coffee dilemma is simplified. You wake up, brew a pot, start working, and start drinking. When you want more, you stand up, walk to your kitchen, and make more.
When you work in an office, you have to give yourself time to make a morning pot and get it travel-mug ready before you walk out the door. The temptation to hit up a Starbucks drive-thru is strong and near impossible if you didn’t have time to brew a pot that morning. When you start dragging mid-afternoon and your cube neighbor suggests a coffee run, you rationalize you’d be crazy not to go. One to two coffee runs a day–and even just a few a week–add up. If you buy one cup of coffee a day, Quartz estimates that you’d pay $12.25 a week. Even if you factor in the cost of making coffee at home, you’re still saving over $450 a year.
Money saved by not buying work clothes
- Estimated savings: $1,200/year
The clothing savings from working from home are less concrete and vary based on your own habits, but we had to mention it because it can make a big difference. Say you spend $100 on your work wardrobe a month, that’s $1,200 a year just to look professional for work. When you work from home, your work attire is your PJs or whatever ratty sweatshirt is lying around. Rather than buying ties and pencil skirts, you can spend your money on clothes you’d wear out with friends or on vacation.
Whether you fall above or below the $100 a month average, this total doesn’t even take into account the monthly hair and nail appointments that often go along with an office job that requires you to have face time with clients or management.