The Unexpected Savings & Costs of Working from Home

As Bennis Inc approaches its 6 month birthday, I’ve gained a good amount of life experience working from home to compile quite a curious list of unexpected ways I save money by being self-employed. Of course there are the obvious cost-savings of not having an outside office or a commute, but allow me to share with you the lesser known ways us “home-workers” save money:

Clothing—When I had to maintain a business professional wardrobe five days a week, I could justify my three closets stuffed with clothes. Now that my new job allows for a much more casual wardrobe, I find that I don’t have the same urge to spend compulsively on new work clothes. I can get away wearing the same thing over and over and I no longer need a separate work and casual wardrobe.

Water—In my new routine working from home, I save water through showering less. In anticipating your reaction to reading that last sentence, allow me to better explain. For my office job I would have to shower in the morning before work. I would then come home and exercise which would require another shower in the evening. Now that I can fit a run into my schedule anytime and don’t necessarily have to shower in the morning, I’ve cut my showers down to once a day. I’m not sure what this adds up to in way of a monthly savings, but every little bit helps, right?

Hair & Make-Up Products—On days that I don’t have a meeting or event, I really keep it casual. This means minimal to no make-up and rarely any hair products. If you’re a woman or even know a woman, you can surely understand the insane amount of money we spend on hair and make-up products each year. I’ve drastically cut down on how frequently I need to buy new products because I don’t need to use them every day working from home.

In all fairness I should also mention that most of these unexpected cost-savings are offset by equally unexpected cost increases of working from home.

Electricity—I really took for granted all of those times back in the office when I ran my electric heater endlessly and left lamps on overnight. I also severely regret ever complaining about the AC being too cold in the summer and sweltering in the free office heat in the winter. Now during the day, heating and cooling is on me. I also prefer not to work in the dark. However, I will admit I tried working by sunlight and sitting covered in sweaters and blankets to offset this cost. I’ve since rationalized those five extra dollars a month spent on electric is worth modern conveniences like heat and light.

Office Supplies—Have pens and paper always cost this much? I really miss the benefit of a job that comes with a supply closet. Notebooks, computer paper, pens and post-it notes are things you really take for granted when they’re free and at your disposal. Truly, my job only requires minimal amounts of office supplies, but you’d be surprised the random times I’ve found myself in need of a glue stick or construction paper.

Food—While working from home, the kitchen is too close for my own good. I can never resist the temptation of snacking while writing. When I worked in an office, I packed my lunch daily and had far more control over my sweet tooth. Now with a whole fridge of food at my disposal, I end up spending more money on groceries to satisfy my work munchies.

Toilet Paper—Go ahead and laugh as you liberally roll out sheets and sheets of your free office TP, but I’m serious. The stuff isn’t nearly as cheap as I think it should be (based on what it’s used for) and I’m shocked with how much more you go through when you work from home. When the majority of my day was spent in an office, the majority of my bathroom stops were made there as well. I think I can finally appreciate why my mom would get so excited when Charmin went on sale. While it may not be as soft, free toilet paper feels just as nice. Maybe the little café below my apartment won’t notice if a few rolls go missing….

So there you have it—the lesser known financial benefits and downfalls of working from home. Whatever your work situation, you’re bound to have something to add to this list. What are some odd savings or costs you didn’t anticipate your job bringing about?

17 thoughts on “The Unexpected Savings & Costs of Working from Home

  1. Very interesting to see what things we don’t usually assume for. My first (and only) negative comment is this: According to your blog picture, you don’t need makeup by any means on any given day, regardless of dressing to impress or not. Okay, that is my criticism.

    Everything else is fabulous! I am sure you are more than capable of coming up with these yourself, but I want to mention them, anyway. A) For your office supplies, bargain shop or go to Sam’s Club. They have outstanding prices. Build your own office supply closet! B) If you are concerned about your snacking habits, pack a lunch just the same as you used to, but don’t give in to temptation to go to the fridge later in the day. Easier said than done, right?

    I do not work from home, but I do help my partner on his farm occasionally during college breaks. In that sense, I save some of the expenditures you have already mentioned and experience other costs similarly. I do not use the bathroom but once or twice a day (there is water savings), but his mother does all of our laundry every single day because we are in the barn and smell like barn animals if she doesn’t (there is water expenditure).

    Keep blogging, I love reading thins from you!

  2. You were killing me with the toilet paper expense. Any business home or office, big or small always has overhead cost. The bigger the business the more people working on keeping those expenses down.

    Just wait until your household grows…the expenses seem to multiply rather than add up. Here is my tip for cost savings: take up a part-time job as an extreme coupon’er.

      1. Or you could do what I do – find someone who already does it, and ask them to be your coupon buddy. I can usually find something I can do that they could use help with. Something about community, or networking. Or something.

  3. Working in PJs is my favourite thing about working from home… and I’m hesitant to find an office job because I don’t want to bother putting on a bra. Seriously.

  4. I’ve scaled down my wardrobe to a mere fraction of what I had in my closet when I had to go to an office every day. However, there’s a balancing act involved because if I get too comfortable wearing the same thing every day, I get out of practice when it’s actually time to go out. Janie Bryant, the Mad Men costume designer, makes a great point about this in her book The Fashion Files. I quoted her on my blog here: http://hourglassy.com/2010/12/final-janie-bryant-post-avoiding/

    1. There certainly is a balancing act! I went to a Christmas party last night and had to remember what clothes I had to wear for a more formal function. I actually appreciate the opportunity to get dressed up now when before I dreaded how uncomfortable it was.

  5. I like this post a lot! Its really true that your run into random, unexpected expenses when working for yourself. I am not quite out of corporate America yet, but I am heading that way with my Interior Design business… anyway, i like your blog and think it is very encouraging for someone in their young twenties who is working on doing the same thing 😉

    1. When I was little, I LOVED interior design and even had computer software to let me do it. (Yeah I was a nerd). Good for you for making this your own business! I can personally relate to the highs and lows you may be feeling.

  6. This is great! I work from home, but I also just moved back in with my mom so I don’t have to pay the utilities and all anymore. I feel exceptionally spoiled.

    I always have to make sure I’m fully dressed before I start work or else I don’t really get much done. I guess I need something to help me change mindsets. Still, I can wear the same thing more often and no one notices. And minimal makeup, if any.

    I also totally agree that you have absolutely no need of makeup – you’re gorgeous.

  7. Working from home would be so nice. I guess you can say I work from home when I work on my blog.

    Going to my primary job can be a hassle sometimes. The gas and mileage I put on my car can add up, and the time driving in could be used getting a little more sleep. Hopefully, I can be in a position to work from home and pay my bills.

    Great article Stephanie!

    1. Commuting is one of my biggest pet peeves. I think it adds up to so much wasted time (and money due to gas). Many more jobs are going virtual to limit this for their employees – hopefully the trend continues!

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