Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and for many Americans, that means working from home.
If you’ve been working from home over the last few months, you’ve likely saved a lot of money on work-related expenses like clothes, gas, and food. So if your employer wants you to return to the office, it’s important that you are financially prepared to pay for those costs again.
As of mid-October, the average price for a gallon of gas is $2.18 for regular unleaded. Although gas is at a four-year low, filling up adds up, and you’ll want to account for that extra expense when you take a look at your budget.
Not everyone is lucky enough to park for free or work for an employer that’s willing to cover your parking costs. Depending on where you live, parking can cost as much as $400 every month!
Whether you take the subway, bus, pay for tolls, rideshare, it’s essential to determine how much it costs so you can prepare your wallet for the return to work.
Daily lunches with your coworkers (or by yourself) can be one of the most significant expenses of working at the office. You can always choose cheaper places, but even so, it adds up. You might feel more inclined to pack your lunch since the pandemic, which is an excellent way to keep costs down and stay on top of any cooking skills you picked up during your time at home.
Not everyone heads to their favorite coffee shop for a latte every single day, but if you want to keep your work-related costs down as much as possible, consider enjoying your brew at home. Alternatively, consider investing in a coffee grinder, milk frother, and espresso machine.
Depending on how you faired during quarantine, you may or may not have to buy different work clothes. Additionally, you should consider additional costs such as cosmetics, dry cleaning, and assorted expenses.
Personal protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer may not seem like much, but if you have to change your mask or work in a high-contact field frequently, it can add up quickly. According to US News My Money, a 10-pack of KN95 masks costs $26.05, and a 50-pack of tripled layered disposable masks are $18.99.
The US Department of Health and Human Services classifies affordable childcare as anything under 7% of your household income. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have found childcare in this range, it can make a serious dent in your budget.
You should look at your budget before you get the call that it’s time to head back to the office. This way, you will have a contingency plan in place and won’t feel the need to scramble during the transition back to the workplace. In addition to work-related expenses, you will want to assess your retirement savings, emergency fund, and health care costs. There’s a chance that your utilities may get a break, but it may not be enough to offset the difference.
- Williams, Geoff. “Tweaking Your Budget for When You Return to the Workplace.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 13 Oct. 2020, money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/saving-and-budgeting/articles/tweaking-your-budget-when-you-return-to-the-workplace.