The Hidden Expenses of Working From Home

As the world adjusts to varying different versions of a new normal, there’s one thing that seems to be universally here to stay in some capacity — working from home. For some of us, it’s the pyjama party we’ve always dreamed of, but for others it’s an ergonomic nightmare.

If you’ve been in the job market since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re bound to have noticed a huge increase in the number of businesses that have transitioned to working remotely. While there are some costs associated with working in an office such as travel expenses that remote workers are able to avoid, many others have cropped up instead.

Whether you’re a lover or a hater of the WFH life, there are more work expenses involved beyond your tax-deductible power bills and office supplies, so bear these sneaky spends in mind if you’ve been tasked with deciding how you’ll work in the future. 

Food and drink

Ah, the office biscuit tin. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, as they say. But in fact, those who guzzle tea and coffee on the house for 40 hours a week when in the office are having to fork out for their own refreshments at home. It’s a small expense, but it adds up over time. Some fancier offices even provide meals for staff, so missing out on a free feed could be impacting your WFH wallet.

Health and medical

While some people have their WFH sh*t together with a full ergonomic set up, the same can’t be said for many of us. Higher costs of living are seeing many work-from-homers crammed into share houses and small apartments, meaning work is done from the couch, dining table or even bed. Our poor spines are screaming from disc compression and a general sense of misalignment, and coupled with longer working hours and less general movement, the work from home dream could actually be costing us a pretty penny in health and wellbeing costs like physiotherapy.

An actual office

While working from the living room was fun for about a week and a half, if working from home is here to stay, the criteria for our homes is likely to change. If you need privacy to make work calls or have confidential conversations, home offices or extra bedrooms are going to become hot property when it comes to choosing where to live, and those things all come at a price. Unless you’re being paid an allowance to foot the bill for the extra space, you could be substantially out of pocket and feeling anxious about your finances. Yikes.

If you’re working from home is because you’re self-employed, you might be able to deduct the cost of many of these expenses from your taxes. On the other hand, employees working from home don’t have access to these deductions and have to foot the bill. While your employers might subsidize some of these hidden costs, you should make sure your personal finances can handle the change in expenses. 

Out-of-home activities

Spending so much time at home may actually result in more money spent on activities that get you out of the house. Meals out, out-of-home socializing and even walking down to the local coffee shop to get some steps in can add up over time, so try to keep some free ways of getting out and about in mind to protect your wallet!

Balancing out your work from home expenses

While working from home is pricey business, there are some obvious perks that you could use to balance out the extra costs. If you previously commuted into the office on public transport or drove a substantial difference, remote working is likely saving you some big cash in transport expenses – and it’s kinder on the planet. Woop!

Working from home could also save you cash on that sneaky coffee you used to pick up every so often, or the office peer pressure to have lunch out because everyone else is, and save you money on on-the-go convenience foods that you can now cook yourself in real time. Many businesses are moving to a hybrid model where you may not have a full-time remote job, instead, you’d spend a couple of days in the office each week. This means you may have to budget for both sets of expenses, so if you’re still feeling the pinch, be on the lookout for any side hustles that could generate a few extra bucks so you can indulge your coffee habit, guilt-free.

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Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.

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