Working from home has its benefits and its downsides. The benefits are many and various; you can wear pajama bottoms all day, as all you need to look presentable for is a Skype. You don’t have to endure long conversations about the latest injustice from management, or confront the horror that is commuting.
The downsides, however, include a certain twitchiness that sets in around 4 o’clock in the afternoon due to a lack of human contact. Your daily caffeine intake rises from 2 coffees a day to around 5 or 6. That amazing exercise regime you had planned (because of all the time you save on commuting) never happens, and instead you find yourself waking up at 8:55 and starting work at nine, sans shower.
The virtual office thing is an interesting beast, and working from home requires a fair amount of self-discipline. In the past year of working from a home office, I’ve developed an addiction to libraries. I have an intensely close relationship with the staff at the local coffee shop. But have I saved money working from home? And how could I save more?
Add it up
Working from home does eliminate certain expenses- train tickets, taxi fares, bought lunches, the early morning cappuccino. Add up what you would usually spend if you were working in an office and put that weekly amount into a piggy bank.
Use it to pay that little bit extra off your credit card or as a present fund for birthdays. It may not seem like much, a couple of dollars here and there, but it all add up.
Don’t let it be too taxing
Working from home has tax benefits. There are different classifications- if your home is your place of business, if you have a place to work but it’s not a place of business, or if you don’t have your own space. More details on the implications of each classification are here.
Talking to your accountant and working out how much you can claim on rent, electricity, telephone, equipment, insurance, rates and your motor vehicle is a first-rate idea. For instance, if you have a study, you can claim for a percentage of the electricity costs. Talking to your accountant and keeping good records are the best way to capitalize on the tax benefits. The practice statement on what can and can’t be claimed is here.
If you’re working from home, you really have no need for a wardrobe full of office clothes. Keep a couple of the really nice shirts, and sell the rest on eBay. You won’t be using them, except for occasional meeting, so all they’re doing is clogging up your space and tainting your feng shui.
I am a second-generation working-from-home devotee. Both my parents worked from home, so a home office has been the norm. On top of all the above savings, consider the savings on childcare should you work from home. In this day and age, that’s potentially the greatest saving of them all should you work from home.
Working from home has the potential to be a boon, personally and financially. Maybe it’s time to say farewell to early morning Parramatta Road nightmare, commandeer the nicest room in the house and get your very own home office.