Reading this from a home office? It’s likely many people are answering “yes” right now. Working remotely has become a part of life for 62% for the American workforce since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic — that’s double what it was pre-pandemic. For many, working from home will continue to be an option even as stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions are lifted. In a recent Gallup survey of employed adults, 59% of U.S. workers said they would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible once restrictions on businesses and school closures are lifted. This may be good news for their household budgets because there are quite a few financial benefits to the remote work model. For those who are interested in remote work permanently, and those who may be on the fence about the issue, here are a few long-term financial benefits of remote work to consider:
- Remember the old adage: time is money. USA Today cites the reduction in commuting costs as the biggest cost savings for remote workers. Why? Because, in addition to the savings listed in items 2 through 5 below, this change saves time, and time is money. The average commute time for Pennsylvania workers is 26.5 minutes, which accounts for 53 minutes per day. The amount of time spent on the road may be even higher for people who travel to appointments and meetings throughout the workday, too. Think about how much can be accomplished in that time: answering emails, returning phone calls, organizing files, and touching base with staff members — the list could go on and on. In terms of productivity, swapping commute time for work time is just more efficient.
- Gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average Pennsylvania driver spent $1,009 on gas in 2017 (the latest data available). By eliminating the daily commute, remote workers can substantially reduce their annual budget for gas.
- Parking. Another expense of reporting to an office or job site every day is parking. Monthly parking fees in city garages vary depending on location. For example, typical monthly rates at municipal parking authority garages in Northeastern and Southeastern Pennsylvania generally range between $45 and $125. Eliminate the need to purchase monthly parking passes, and potentially save $540 to $900 a year.
- Vehicle maintenance. If receipts from basic vehicle maintenance such as oil changes, state inspections, tires, and repairs aren’t handy, drivers can do a quick estimate of how much they’re likely spending if they know how many miles they drive annually. Most people spend roughly 9 cents per mile maintaining their vehicles. To learn more about determining the overall expense of owning a vehicle, check out the calculators on AAA’s website and Nerdwallet.
- Auto insurance. The average driver in Pennsylvania spends about $1,500 per year on auto insurance. As remote workers, some drivers may be eligible for a decrease in auto insurance because they are driving less. While every company, and every policy, is different, it’s worth investigating. Consult with insurance agents, and inquire about opportunities to save on those monthly premiums.
- Childcare. Some families may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for childcare altogether with one or both parents working remotely. Of course, there are multiple factors to consider: the age of the children, the parents’ schedules, whether or not schools are in session, etc. It’s worth exploring because the Economic Policy Institute’s latest research shows that child care costs Pennsylvania parents an average of $987 per month, or of $11,842 annually.
- Dining out. In a rush to get out the door on time every day, many people find it challenging to prepare meals at home. A quick stop for coffee on the way to work, dining out with co-workers for lunch, and ordering take-out for dinner can really add up. On average, people in Pennsylvania spend $2,431 per year on dining out. It can be much more cost-effective to prepare meals at home. It requires a bit of planning, but many people are discovering (and re-discovering) the joys of cooking with their families.
- Professional wardrobe. The average American household spends about $1,800 annually on clothing and services needed to maintain their wardrobe, such as dry cleaning. Not reporting to the office every day reduces the need to continually invest in new professional clothes and accessories, and it saves money on dry cleaning, too – something to think about if the option of working remotely is a permanent one.
One final thought: for those who are serious about transitioning to remote work permanently, it’s important to consider how much it will cost to establish and maintain a proper home office. Expenses such as furniture, office equipment, and upgrading one’s internet package are among the items to research. Many people discover that the initial expenses are still lower than what they used to spend reporting to an office every day, but each situation is unique. The best advice: when in doubt, do the math.
Fidelity Bank has built a strong history as trusted advisors to customers served, and is proud to be an active member of the communities it serves. With 21 branches located throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, Fidelity Bank offers full-service Trust & Investment Departments, a mortgage center, and an array of personal and business banking products and services. The Bank provides 24 hour, 7 day a week service to customers through a variety of digital banking tools, branch offices, online at www.bankatfidelity.com, and through the Customer Care Center at 1-800-388-4380.