The pandemic brought major shifts to the workplace as droves of employees began working from home for the first time. Working from home or getting a remote work position is more possible than ever. The good news is that working from home can save you a good chunk of change, too. If you’ve wondered how much money you can save working from home, we break down some numbers for you but it could be hundreds or thousands of dollars.
1. Lower car insurance rates
Working from home means driving less. If you drive less, you’re at less risk and therefore your car insurance rates may drop. During the pandemic, many major car insurance providers cut their premiums.
But there’s a better way to lower car insurance rates when working from home and that is through pay-per-mile insurance. Using pay-per-mile auto insurance, a type of usage-based insurance, you’re only responsible for paying a low base rate and several cents for every mile you drive.
On average, Metromile customers have saved $741* per year making the switch, based on survey data from new customers in 2018. You can take a look at your options, but working from home and driving less should mean lower car insurance rates as well.
2. Drop in commuting costs
Working from home means paying less in other commuting costs as well. In addition to lower car insurance rates, you can reduce costs for the following.
- Public transportation. Instead of paying the fares for the bus or metro to get to and from work, you can now pocket that cash. In fact, close to half of the commuters in the U.S. reported using public transportation less due to the pandemic. An unlimited metro card in New York City costs $127 per month. Forgoing the unlimited metro card for a year would save you $1,524 per year. Cost-per-ride is $2.75. Let’s say you still needed to take three round-trip rides per week for a year. That would be $858, still saving you money. Many cities have fairly comparable rates, so eliminating this cost or only riding part-time you stand to save a lot of money.
- Gas. Right now gas prices are on the rise and can add a lot to commuting costs. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Price Index Summary, the gasoline index increased a whopping 41.8% since July 2020. When you work from home, you can save a lot by filling up your tank less often than you normally would when driving to work every day. A Marketwatch article from 2018 estimates saving $444 in gas per year working from home full-time.
- Car maintenance. The more you drive, the more wear and tear there is on your vehicle. There’s no way around that. But driving less by working from home can lead to fewer repairs or car maintenance issues. For example, you may need to get less frequent oil changes, fewer repairs, and have less likelihood of an accident. Let’s say you drove a lot before and got an oil change every three months. You may be able to cut back to twice a year, instead of four times a year, effectively saving you around $120 per year.
- Ridesharing costs. There’s a surge in ridesharing costs right now, so if you previously took Uber or Lyft to work you’re saving money by working from home. Statista has data for average ridesharing costs as of 2018, and New York commuters spent $84 per month. That would be $1,008 saved each year by cutting this cost out.
3. Not shopping as much
When you work in an office, you need to adhere to the dress code. That may mean buying suits, slacks, ties, dresses, jumpsuits, or whatever is appropriate for your workplace. Those clothes may not be cheap and caring for them with dry cleaning can add up.
Women in particular may spend more money on makeup, nails, and hair to keep up appearances. Working from home can reduce some of those costs. Of course, you still need to wear clothes to work from home, but you may not have to wear the same things you’d wear every day at the office or pay as much for the care and cleaning of these items. A Marketwatch analysis estimates women save $400 per year working from home.
4. Dining out less
When you commute to work, sometimes you create rituals as part of the process or simply out of convenience. For example, you may hit up the local coffee shop on your way to work or dine out for lunch or get snacks on the go. A 2015 survey from Visa found that people spent an average of $2,746 on lunch each year.
If you come home tired from a long day, you might order take-out. All of these costs can add up fast. When you work from home, you have more time freedom and can have more energy saved from not commuting. That can mean having slower mornings making your own coffee versus rushing out of the door and grabbing one on the way.
5. May be able to write off some things for taxes
If you’re a remote worker and are self-employed, you could be eligible to write off many parts of your home office. For example, the technology required for your office could be considered a business deduction. You could potentially write off a portion of your home office. It’s possible to write off $5 per square foot for up to 300 square feet, for a maximum of $1,500. Deductions reduce the amount you owe in taxes, but unlike credits, aren’t dollar-for-dollar. How much money that saves you depends on your tax bracket and income but let’s say you’re in the 15% tax bracket, you could save $225 per year.
Unfortunately, employees who work full-time from home aren’t eligible for the home office deduction. If you had a side hustle from home part of the time that may make you eligible. Whether you’re self-employed or an employee, any tax questions should be sent to a professional tax specialist who can help you with your particular situation.
6. Turning your home or the outdoors into your gym
Many gyms closed their doors during the pandemic. According to a 2021 Finder.com survey, 1.3 billion dollars is spent on unused gym memberships. During this time, you may have turned to your home or the great outdoors to be your gym.
Instead of pricey memberships, contracts, and something that is a hassle-to-cancel, you could save money by ditching the gym and opting to work out from home or outside. For example, you could do bodyweight exercises at home or if you have weights or bands, can use them to get a workout in. You can also go biking, running, or hiking outdoors to break a sweat. According to RunRepeat.com, the average gym membership is $507 for the first year and $479 for the second. Ditching the gym for your home gym or opting to move outside could save you up to $507 per year.
The bottom line
If you’ve ever been curious and thought just how much money do you save working from home, now you know it can be a lot. That number can vary depending on your lifestyle and cost of living but given the numbers mentioned above, you could stand to save up to $7,715/year. Being able to work from home can lead to a number of reduced expenses, fewer options and temptations to spend, as well as lead to more time and energy. As part of lowering your costs while working from home, see how much you stand to save by switching to pay-per-mile insurance.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.