COVID-19 has caused major changes to the way we work and play, and home working looks set to stay for a lot of us. We might have got a bit more used to going into the other room to work instead of into town, but how does it affect our money?
A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows that the number of people working from home regularly has doubled compared to before the pandemic.
“But that’s great”, you might be thinking. Less travel = more time + more money in your pocket, right?
Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. But don’t worry, we’ll talk you through it.
Have you noticed the changes?
If you’ve had to make the switch from the office to home working, you’ll probably have noticed a few changes in your spending. You might not have to fork out for train tickets or petrol anymore (hooray!), but your electricity bill may be a little heftier than usual.
For better or worse – or more likely, somewhere in-between – long-term home working can lead to some noticeable changes in your income and outgoings. This means you might need to strike a new balance to keep your finances steady.
Here’s a little insight into where your monthly finances could look different, and some handy tips to help you keep your budget on track:
+ Commuting costs cut
If you regularly commuted to work, you could find you save hundreds of pounds every month just by cutting out the cost of petrol or train fares.
Top tip: Instead of letting that money filter through to your spending allowance, why not set it aside every week instead? You could be surprised how quickly it adds up.
+ Less lost on lunch
As well-intentioned as you might have been with taking a packed lunch to the office every day, it was so easy to slip back to your favourite food truck or deli towards the end of the week. Now your kitchen is only a few feet away, and the food truck temptation is gone, you might find that it’s easier to stick to your food budget.
Top tip: You could try reinventing your favourite office lunch occasionally, to satisfy the craving.
+ Claim back some tax
Lots of people don’t know they could actually claim back some tax if they’ve been asked to work from home – £6 a week, in fact. Head to the GOV.UK website to find out if you could claim tax relief for your job expenses.
Top tip: While it might not seem like a huge amount, £6 a week adds up to £312 a year – a handy little boost that could help you pay for things like the extra electricity needed to power your laptop.
You’ll have to pay for your own tea and coffee
This one could go either way. The end of your love affair with the office coffee machine means that you now have to fund your hot drinks by yourself, and the price of getting your caffeine fix can add up over the month. Or, if you used to rely on barista-fresh beans on your way into the office every morning, you might find that you’re actually saving a fair bit by reverting to at-home instant brews.
Top tip: Start getting cashback on the brands you love with The Cashback Collector in the Yolt app.
- “Electricity is how much?!”
It makes sense that spending more time at home will have an impact on your household bills – especially as we get into winter and need the lights and heating on more often.
Top tip: Don’t get caught out. Use The Round Up Jar Booster in your Yolt app to help you build up a little excess pot, just in case some of your bills come to more that you’re expecting.
- Paycheque penalties
One social media giant has already decided to pay home working staff less if they move to cheaper areas. That’s not to say this will happen for all of us anytime soon, but it’s something to keep in mind if it looks like your work could be home-based in the future.
Top tip: Create a living budget to track your spending and see where you might be spending more or you may be able to save. This could help you handle any changes more easily. Check out our guide on how to work out your living budget to get started.