A lot of people blog about how much their job stinks. Mine’s not bad. I’m grateful to be gainfully employed and while my job is full of challenges and frustrating situations here and there (and I’m taking negative real wage increases for life), I’ve stayed in the same role for a couple years now because I actually enjoy the work. We don’t have a lot of great perks, but one that I really cherish is the ability to work from home occasionally. Not to be one to push the limit or be outside the norm, I’ve been working from home about 1 day a week for the past year now. In my role, about 90% of my meetings are international calls overseas and with virtual desktop sharing and company conference lines, there’s really no reason why my workday has to be in the office most days. Because there might be a perception amongst some that working from home isn’t efficient or that people are goofing off, I do it less than most. Other project managers in the group often work from home at least twice a week so I keep it to a minimum comparatively, but just that 1 day a week is real nice. Anyway, aside from being a nice perk in the “work-life balance” and flexible working category, that 1 day a week that I work from home actually saves me over $500 a year. There are a lot of little hidden costs to working in the office compared to out of the house. While you may not bear all the same expenses yourself, here’s the spread between an office day and home day for me:
- No commute: I have a pretty short commute and people shouldn’t whine about gas prices for the reasons therein, but even so, a short commute comes with a cost. If we use a basic $.50/mile for gas and depreciation (ballpark what the IRS allows for mileage reimbursement), my 5 mile commute each way is $5 a day in commuting costs alone.
- 1 Less Day of Dry-Cleaning: $2 – I usually pay a buck something for a shirt and pants are a couple bucks, but realistically, I re-wear my pants a few times (yes, I admit it. I buy wrinkle-free khakis and recycle) and in the summer, I wear a short sleeve button down now and then that gets washed/dried at home. But both my wife and I hate ironing, so anything that requires ironing goes to the dry-cleaner. Thus, we’ll call it an even $2/day.
- Cheaper Lunch: While I have to eat either way, even though I eat at the company cafeteria most days and won’t claim any savings by not going out to lunch with colleagues, it’s still more expensive to eat a wrap or burger or whatever prepared at the cafeteria. With tax, I usually end up paying about $6 for lunch. At home, I usually have some cheap leftovers, some chips with cheese on top, a PB&J, or something that effectively costs about $3/day on average. That’s a savings of about $3 each time I work from home.
- Coffee: I already brew my own coffee in the morning regardless of whether I work from home or the office. But some afternoons, I have an urge for some additional caffeine and end up buying one now and then. It’s not every day, but possible every other. Since it’s like $1.50 for a regular and $3 for a mocha, which I only get occasionally, I’ll just call it $1 a day on average to be conservative. When I work from home, I brew my own in the afternoon which is probably just a few cents.
- My Time: Priceless. If I have a 7AM call to Singapore, I can just roll out of bed at 6:50AM, log on and make my call. That beats the heck out of getting up at 6, showering, eating, making the coffee, etc. and rushing in for a 15 minute drive in. On that drive issue, 15 minutes each way is 30 minutes of my time back in a day. That’s equivalent to a blog post that night!
While I take a couple weeks off a year anyway, let’s call it 49 weeks*$11/week in savings for simply working from home once per week. That’s $539/year! From a salaried standpoint, since this is $539 in after-tax money, it’s probably the equivalent to getting a raise of $750 each year. It’s amazing what a difference a day makes!
Does Your Job Have Perks That Save You Money?