The financial side of working from home

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If you’re one of the more the 50% of Atlantic Canadians who have shifted to working from home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have noticed some changes in your budget—both for the good and the bad.

Now, as a full-time return to office is off the table entirely for some organizations, and optional for others, we’ve got some helpful advice for keeping your finances tighter than a fresh pair of leggings if you’re WFH for the long-haul.

Transportation

Your commute is likely a little more local (like, try bedroom to kitchen table). While that can be great news for your budget in terms of no longer having the monthly expense of purchasing a bus pass, paying for gas or parking, or worrying about maintenance on your vehicle, there might be other ways to save, too. If you’ve lucky enough to own a vehicle and you find you’re not driving it as often, give your insurance company a call—you might be able to save a bit on your premium because you’re sticking a little close to home than before. And speaking of a shorter commute—what are you doing with the extra time you’re not spending travelling to a from work? Maybe you could think about starting a side hustle or working on your fitness.

Lunch

We’ve all been there. The sad-salad you packed for lunch came with such good intentions, but when it’s time to face the reality of eating it, the siren-song of takeout wins you over and poof! You’re out an extra $20 you weren’t really counting on spending. WFH probably means a lot more LFH—lunches from home—which can be better on your bank account, but it probably also means your weekly grocery bill has increased a bit too. Stay savvy when it comes to your groceries. Shop sales if possible and only buy what you’ll realistically be able to eat before it goes bad. Food waste is a huge waste of money—not to mention tough on the environment.

Utilities

With the days getting shorter and darker, you might find yourself reaching for the light switch a lot sooner. Not to mention the thermostat. Utilities can be a huge portion of your household budget so make sure you have room in yours this year as your costs are likely to increase since you’re spending a lot more time at home. Budgets are meant to be fluid, so maybe the extra money you’re not spending on a cuppa jo every day can be put toward your utility bills instead.

Local businesses

The flip side to all this staying home is that many local businesses who rely on foot traffic have been struggling. Are there ways you can be supporting your neighbouhood favourites now that your daily routine looks a little different? With the holidays coming, maybe you can set a goal to only buy local this year. Or focus your online impulse buying to just your local favourites, which brings us to…

Online shopping

When you’re in the house, bored, and sitting in front of a computer screen all day, the urge to online shop can be tough to overcome. This is especially true if you’re just looking for a little pick-me-up or something to look forward to when the mail carrier makes their daily rounds down your street. While it’s ok to indulge sometimes, make sure you’re not treating yo’ self all the time—unless of course your budget can support it.

Clothing

Regardless if you’re #teamhardpants or #teamsoftpants, adhere to a strict business on the top, comfort on the bottom aesthetic, or fall somewhere in between, your professional wardrobe needs have probably shifted a bit over the past several months. As a result, now might be the time to really think about whether you really need that snappy new blazer or killer pair of heels—or yet another pair of comfy sweatpants. Online thrifting has become hugely popular and can be a great way to breathe new life into some old treasures while being a little gentler on your wallet in the process. Shop your faves on the ‘gram or go through your own closet and see what you might be able to sell to someone else for a little extra walking around money.

Wanting to tighten up your finances? Your local credit union can help.