How Much Money Do I Save Working From Home?

Chances are, it’s a lot more than you realize.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has led to shutdowns and stay-at-home restrictions across the country, which means many of us are now doing our jobs from home. This new normal certainly poses a few challenges, but there’s an unexpected upside as well: Telecommuting can offer financial savings because it cuts expenses across a wide range of areas. By not going to the office every day, we avoid costs associated with commuting and our normal workday routines, such as buying lunch and coffee, paying for childcare, refreshing our work wardrobes, and racking up dry-cleaning bills. To help illustrate the potential savings, the career site Zippia created an interactive calculator that lets you estimate just how much you might be saving right now. You might be surprised by these numbers—and it might even inspire you to be a little more frugal when life gets back to normal.

Savings Scenario #1: The coffee addict with a long commute

Let’s say your pre-coronavirus commute entailed a 40-mile commute to the office, and you had a cup of coffee every day. Cutting out just those two expenses will save you a whopping $258 and 20.2 hours every week. That’s equivalent to $12,900 a year and 126.3 workdays saved. The money you’d save commuting is calculated at a rate of 59 cents a mile, based on the average fuel efficiency of U.S. light-duty vehicles. In case you were wondering, this is the average commute time in every U.S. state.

Savings Scenario #2: The perfectly styled employee

Those who generally follow a high-maintenance routine are likely enjoying some not-too-shabby savings while working remotely, especially if they ease up on their grooming routines a bit. If you now only shower half as much and have abandoned your intense hair and makeup regimen, you could save $66 and 10.2 hours each week just on those changes. That’s equivalent to $3,300 a year and 63.7 workdays saved. We’re not even counting the clothing expenses you’re likely now skipping, too. But slacking off on shower time takes things a bit too far. The Zippia team suggests that a daily shower might be good for your mental state, and a shower takes only 15 minutes and costs about 51 cents, by their estimates.

Of course, you still want to look professional and put-together on Zoom. Check out these stylish tops to wear for your next video call.

Savings Scenario #3: The regular at the corner deli

If once upon a time, you couldn’t get through a day at the office without a caffeine fix and lunch from your favorite spot, you’re likely saving a bundle right now. Cutting those expenses could save you around $260 a month—$50 a week for lunch and another $15 a week for coffee. (The Zippia team assumed an average cost of $10 per lunch, so obviously your specific savings would vary depending on whether you regularly enjoyed lunch at a pricey bistro or just grabbed some fast food.) If you also happened to have a 20-mile commute, you would save an additional $236 savings per month, along with freeing up an extra 13-plus hours.

Learn these 5 tricks for making the perfect cup of coffee.

Savings Scenario #4: The frugal type

You walked to work, always brought lunch from home, and only grabbed a coffee once a week. Not surprisingly, your thrifty lifestyle didn’t leave a lot of extras to slash. You’re saving just $4 and 0.6 hours each week by working from home. Still, that’s equivalent to $200 a year and 3.8 workdays saved. “While a penny saved is a penny earned, the money you’re saving isn’t exactly world-changing,” notes the Zippia team.

Keep the savings going

Now, you’ve enjoyed the budget benefits of working from home, and you might want to maintain the momentum even after you return to the office. “Two of the biggest expenses that workers incur from going into the office are commuting costs and lunches. Lunches out are a big, and often relatively easy to cut, expense. Rather than going out for lunch every day or several times a week, workers can bring food from home to save,” says Kathy Morris, marketing manager at Zippia. “For those who are strapped for time and buy food for convenience, meal-prepping in advance can simplify the process. The same goes for those with an expensive coffee addiction.”

You don’t need to completely deprive yourself, though. “Workers should be sure to allow themselves some small pleasures,” Morris adds. “Grabbing the occasional lunch or coffee with a colleague can be a networking tool and an opportunity to connect with coworkers.”

You can also cut your expenses quite a bit by cutting down the cost of getting to and from work. “Those with long commutes might consider carpooling or [taking] public transportation when possible,” Morris says. To pad your bank account even further, consider these 20 ways to save money you probably haven’t tried yet.

Bobbi Dempsey
Bobbi Dempsey is a freelance writer, editor and content specialist whose credits include NY Times, Forbes, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and many others. She has written both consumer-facing and B2B content for numerous companies in the technology, healthcare, education, and personal finance industries.