Working from home is often sold as a cost-saving measure. Afterall, employees no longer have the expenses of their commutes to worry about. There is no need to pay for work appropriate clothing, which often costs more. This also erases dry cleaning bills. The temptation to purchase expensive coffee to-go is also less of an issue when you aren’t on the go.
However, there are many hidden expenses working from home. These costs are easy to not notice if you aren’t keeping a careful eye on your budget. It seems silly to consider the added costs of a few pens, ink cartridges, or the wear and tear on your laptop. However, if you were in the office at work, these expenses would be something your office manager would tally carefully because they really add up over time. Your home office deserves the same consideration.
The first expense to consider is your electricity bill. This may not be affected much by plugging in your computer more often, but what about the air conditioning running all day, every day? Make sure to budget for this as you move into the summer months and consider wearing lighter clothing and purchasing a small fan as a possible way to keep the thermostat a little warmer for the sake of your bill.
Are you needing to upgrade your phone’s data plan? Do you need to purchase a new computer chair or more ergonomic keyboard, mouse, or laptop stand? Do you need a printer and ink cartridges? Are you spending money to ship items? Do you need a new webcam for conference calls, and a lighting set up to make sure you look professional during your business meetings?
In all of these examples, you should be discussing the costs with your office manager and looking into the possibility of reimbursement for the expenses.
To keep track of what you’re spending, consider using a budget app. There are ones that cost a bit of money, so you’ll want to add the cost into your considerations, but many can be connected with your bank account at no expense. These apps, like Mint, PocketGuard, and Wally, make it easy to keep a running tally of expenses you can discuss with your employer.
Remember that these are normal expenses for a business and don’t feel shy about bringing up these realities, especially when you have the costs tallied and ready to show.