Working from home? Watch out for these hidden costs

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If you’re no longer going into the office every day, you might notice changes to your bank account. Gone are your commuting costs, daily lunch tabs and those pricey dry-cleaning runs for your work wardrobe.

But working remotely can still produce its own set of extra expenses. Here are some hidden costs you may not have considered—and some tips to help you reduce them.

Grocery Bill

When you’re home more, you’re going to spend more time eating there. And for the time being, you may also be feeding kids who typically would be at school. Although grocery shopping may look different in this uncertain time, the good news is that resilience is about focusing on what you can control.

Try to keep your kitchen stocked with your favorite foods so that you and your family can get through the day nourished and energized. To lower your grocery bill, consider stocking up on sale items, choosing store brand over name brands or buying some items in bulk. Look for any available coupons and sign up for store rewards programs that could benefit you. And if your employment circumstances have changed, you may qualify for food assistance benefits.

Utility Bills

Keeping the lights on all day will raise your electricity bill—but not by as much as you’d think. Energy-efficient bulbs typically use about 25-80 percent less energy than traditional lights, saving you money while going green (win-win).1

Of course, if you keep the TV on, too, your electric bill could creep up. And don’t forget about the heat and AC costs. Take a close look at your utility bills to get a sense of your average spend. Can you bring that number down by adjusting the thermostat a few degrees higher this spring? Finally, double-check your contracted rate with your utility providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Some gas companies have introductory rates that increase as contracts expire.

General office expenses

Your company probably had on-site tech support, which made it easy to get help if the printer was on the fritz or your computer kept freezing. Now that you're at home, you may need to account for potential repairs or replacements. Ask your company if there’s a plan for remote IT assistance or reimbursement in the case of malfunctioning tech. You might also check if your employer has equipment you can use at no cost or if you’re eligible to be reimbursed for basic office supplies (toner, paper, staples, etc.).

Household items

As you continue staying inside, you might notice yourself going through items such as disinfectant wipes and laundry detergent faster than normal. Cleaning supplies can be hard to find at this time, but planning ahead can help make it easier to get the products you’re looking for. If you're ordering grocery or household supplies online, plan to order before you start running low, since same-day delivery may not be an option.

Remember: Resilience is the ability to take a challenging experience and come out a little more confident and more resourceful.


Prepare for a home office with confidence

Working from home in these uncertain times can be a big adjustment. Learn how you can make a smooth transition with our Budget Worksheet.


1 “How Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Compare With Traditional Incandescents,” Sep. 26, 2015, United States Department of Energy

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