As some of us enter month six of working from home, you’re probably starting to notice a few extra expenses have crept into the budget since you left the office.
With some businesses offering staff the option to work from home indefinitely and no immediate end to the pandemic in sight, it might be time to take a look at your budget and see where you can save a bit of money while working from home.
Start off with an audit
You can’t budget without knowing your expenses. Start by thinking about costs you’ve gained while working from home and costs you’ve lost as a result of not going into the office each day.
There are a lot of expenses that are covered by our employers that we probably don’t even think about – until now. Costs like heating and cooling, Internet usage and (depending on your workplace) coffee, snacks and even meals that come with being in an office will now need to come out of your own budget.
To help with this, budgeting apps like the Finder app can be connected to your accounts and used to analyse your spending and identify areas where you could save money.
By not heading into the office each day, there’s a good chance you’re saving some money on your daily commute. A Finder analysis of ABS and Opal data in May found that Aussies could be saving $108.18 a month by ditching their daily train trip. This is money that can be put towards those expenses you’ve gained while working from home.
Monitor your energy use
As the months get warmer, we’re going to start missing that frosty office aircon to beat the heat on those particularly hot days. Rugging up in winter is always an option to keep your energy bills low, but it’s not as simple in summer.
There are still a few steps you can take to keep cool before opting for air conditioning. Keeping your blinds and curtains shut where possible will block out some of that harsh heat from the sun, helping to keep your home cooler. Fans are also a really effective way of cooling a room, particularly if you can make use of an open window to circulate a breeze.
On warmer days where a fan just won’t cut it, make sure you’re running your aircon economically. You can save on your bill by running your aircon at the optimal temperature of 25 degrees. If you do like to run yours a bit cooler, an aircon calculator can tell you how much you could be saving by adjusting your thermostat a few degrees.
Consider upgrading your internet plan
Upgrading your plan may sound counterintuitive to saving money. However, if you are constantly going over your data limit or needing to purchase additional data packs, a larger plan may cost you less.
The plan you were on prior to the pandemic may no longer be suitable for your needs. Between Zoom meetings and kids doing uni or school work online, you could find yourself burning through your data plan very quickly. Make note of how much data you use each month and look for a plan that is slightly above that. This will give you some wriggle room in case you use a bit more data in some months compared to others, protecting you from forking out for extra data packs later in the month. |Bessie Hassan, finder.com.au
Plan your meals
If you’re not prepared, meals can become a hefty expense during the week. While the convenience of Uber Eats can be tempting, it is an easy way to end up blowing your budget, and as mum would say: there’s food at home.
Think about what you want to eat for the week and make your grocery list accordingly; this will prevent you from overspending on food that you won’t use in the week. Cooking your meals ahead of time means that come lunchtime all you need to do is sit down and enjoy.
If you’re not great in the kitchen (or just want something a little more ready-made), a meal delivery service could be a great option. These can be anything from ingredients kits to frozen meals and can cost as little as $7 per meal. This will save you from spending unnecessarily on takeaway and is also good for the waistline.
COVID-19 has been tough for many people financially so identifying areas where you can save money is a must. Navigating the new normal isn’t easy but if one thing is for sure, making little changes to your budget now will benefit you down the road.
Bessie Hassan is a money expert at Finder, Australia’s most visited comparison site.