The following is a guest post by Ripley Daniels, an editor at Without The Stress, a passport, travel visa, and immigration advisory firm located in Los Angeles.
As a bona fide home-based business person, I know a thing or two about the benefits of commuting one flight of steps, working in my pajamas, going for a run in the middle of the day, and of course, saving a whole lot of dough. Anymore, it just doesn't make sense for me to show up at an office, especially considering how expensive that arrangement really is. Here are the top ten ways I have saved money by working from home, compared to my previous career as an office worker. While your own circumstances are likely to differ from my own, the savings are real.
Dry Cleaning - This used to be a big one since logo-ed shirts were part of my attire, making a weekly or bi-weekly trip for dry cleaning and laundry a regular expense. Annual savings: $240-360
Wardrobe - Not needing to "keep up appearances" on a daily basis has meant that most of my recent spending on clothes has been purely casual. Annual savings: $300 -$500.
Auto Insurance and Repairs - I didn't think much about this one at first, but it's big. Driving almost 5,000 fewer miles a year meant that one call to my auto insurer reduced my rate by 8%. I change my oil less often, and of course brakes, tires and other parts last longer. All told, my car expenses have dropped about $400 annually.
Do-It-Yourself Chores - Tired from a long day, slow commute, and feeling protective of time off, I was keen to outsource yard work, and other home-related jobs. Now I look forward to those things as a way to relax with productive, rewarding activities. No, I don't always love pulling weeds, but it's a great excuse to be outside and take a mental break. We've probably saved $600 a year, doing more tasks ourselves.
Gas - My commute to work used to be 13 miles each way, or about 6500 miles a year. At 22 mpg, that's 295 gallons of gas, or $1032.50 at $3.50/gal. That total is now reduced certainly by more than 75%, making my savings over $775 a year.
Day Care - Having a three year old around the house is not conducive to getting work done, and so we do send her to day care. However, I can take her in late, pick her up early, take random days off, and have even kept her out of day care altogether for a couple of spells, working reduced hours or swapping day care duties with friends. Shortened days don't affect the cost of day care, but extended absences do, and my flexibility meant I could choose a less expensive option. Total savings: about $1000.
Coffee - I do love my coffee, and still grab a big ol' latte from time to time. Used to be at least four each week, averaging $8 with tip and a snack. Substitute that with freshly ground coffee at home, and I'm saving more than $20 a week or $1000 annually.
Eating Out - While it's always possible to be responsible about workday meals, reality seldom cooperates. Packing a lunch or saving leftovers is an extra hassle, and it's more fun to eat out with the team. Estimating that I ate lunch out just three times in a typical work week, I now spend at least $30 less per week, or $1500 for the year.
Tax Deductions - As a consultant, a lot of the things that I would typically pay for outright now fall under the "business expense" category, such as a portion of my cell phone, internet and even mortgage. Of course I still pay for these things, but since they are required to do business, counting them against earnings saves me about $1600 in taxes.
Time - It's hard to quantify the value of the time saved by having my work with me. It is by far my most prized reward. True, balance can be a challenge, but how to deal with it is my choice, unlike the constraints of office work that are far less flexible. I don't have mindless meetings, 500 hours of commuting, or the daily drip of losing an hour or so to the chatter and "catching up" that being in a office entails. I find it a lot easier to catch up with friends now, instead. I get more work done in less time, and I spend more time on my home, my family and myself.
The truth is, you couldn't pay me to return to an office environment!