Many of us are working from home, often for the first time. It can be a fantastic way to save money on travel and on buying lunches and coffees, but there are hidden costs as well. For those of you working from home, research by Thinkmoney found that a few small changes could save you up to £496 a year. The following budgeting tips will help to minimise your expenses and make the most of your money.
Save money on your shopping
When you’re working from home, it can be tempting to look at online shopping sites. If you’re anything like me, this leads to buying something you don’t really need. A simple budgeting tip: don’t do it! Block shopping sites on your work computer, or at the very least remove them from your bookmarks.
Food and drink
As well the money you save by not buying coffee during breaks, Thinkmoney found that you can save another 2.5p per cup if you boil the kettle only when needed. If you have three hot drinks a day, that adds up: £2.25 a month, or £27 a year.
When you are working from home, it is a great time to change your food habits and save money at the same time. A simple budgeting tip is to buy useful items in bulk. Fight the temptation to buy more than you need: you would waste money, and it might mean that your neighbours and community miss out. You can find more food budgeting tips here.
Since you’re working from home, head out to the garden during your lunch break or your commute time and plant vegetables. You get fresh vegetables cheaply, and gardening is also a great way to unwind.
Save money on your bills
There are heaps of ways to save money on your bills when you’re working from home.
If you turn the heating down by just 1 degree, Thinkmoney found that you can save £80 a year. But don’t stop there! If you heat only the rooms that are occupied, wear appropriate clothes for the temperature, and use draught excluders, you’ll save even more.
Turn off one unnecessary plug, and turn your appliances and devices off rather than leaving them on standby. According to Thinkmoney, this could save you a whopping £136 annually.
Don’t run the washing machine, dryer or dishwasher unless they’re full, work near windows to use sunlight, and turn the lights off when you leave a room. Thinkmoney found that just turning off unnecessary lights can save you £170 a year. The simplest budgeting tips are worth repeating, because they work!
If you’re working from home because of the lockdown, you’re probably using home broadband rather than mobile data. If you can do it without breaking your contract (and incurring extra fees), look into changing to prepaid/pay-as-you-go on your mobile phone. You might save money. This budgeting tip means you’ll have to contact your provider, but it may be worth it!
Switching your energy or internet providers can often save you money. Thinkmoney found that, on average, you could save £69 a year by changing internet provider. If you’re working from home, you’re probably using more energy, and almost certainly spending more time online, so getting the best deal is proportionately more important. Uswitch can help you compare energy providers, internet providers and mobile phone providers to find the one for you.
Another simple budgeting tip: switching your payments to direct debit can earn you a discount on your bill, even if you don’t switch providers.
Get money back
As well as reducing your expenditure when you work from home, don’t forget you can also get money back.
Don’t forget to claim tax relief for your work expenses. You can claim £6 a week without evidence, but you might be able to claim more if you’re willing to do some paperwork.
If you paid for a public transport season ticket that you can’t use, get a refund. Many public transport providers are providing partial refunds for season tickets, so contact them and find out; it’s an obvious tip, but worth a try!