Ditch the Commute: How Quitting the Office Boosts Your Savings

Updated on January 10th, 2022
Inspiring Work Space

While working from home and telecommuting continue to grow in popularity, commuting to work every day is still the norm. The average commute in the United States has grown to 26 minutes each way, or nearly an hour every day in the car going to and from work. According to data from the Census, more than 139 million Americans commuted to work on a regular basis in 2014. But what if you could end your commute and join those who work from home each day? With 43 percent of Americans working from home at least some of the time, you may find yourself logging in wearing pajamas before you know it.

Save on car costs

Remote working site Flexjobs recently took a look at ways you can save from working at home and estimated annual savings of $4,600 per year or more. The first place you’ll see savings is your car, as it costs a lot less to have it sit in the garage than it does to drive it to and from work every day. Gas and maintenance costs for your car go down immediately when you stop driving.

According to 2015 AAA figures and average gas prices, you will save $686 per year by working from home. Car maintenance is less frequent but adds up fast when something goes wrong. AAA estimates $767 per year in maintenance costs. You will save a big chunk of that when you drive less than the average. Those add up to about $1,400 in annual savings.

I personally took it a step further and switched to a per-mile auto insurance plan. I saved about 50% on my insurance when I changed from a big insurer to a mileage-based upstart.

No more work uniform

The average consumer spent $1,850 on clothing in 2015. If half of that goes to work clothes, you can save $925 per year by ending your investments in an updated professional wardrobe. And because fancier clothes tend to cost more, you can easily save more than half of your clothing budget by switching to the freelancer uniform of jeans and a hoodie. Add in an estimated $500 to $1,500 per year in dry cleaning costs, you have another four-figure savings opportunity annually.

I get most of my t-shirts from conferences these days (FinCon and Podcast Movement are my two favorites), and in my Southern California climate, I can live most of my life in free shirts. I just have to buy the pants and I’m all set! I used to buy dress shoes, dress shirts, and sweaters just for work. Now that I’ve been working from home for over two years, most of those clothes hang in my closet. I just did a big cleanout and got rid of a lot!

Coffee and lunch from your own kitchen

One of my big weaknesses, when I had a traditional office job in cubical land, was lunch. I rarely packed my lunch, and often spent $7 to $10 per day on burritos and sandwiches. Add in an occasional $2 to $5 coffee, and you can easily spend $20 per day on food and coffee. But when you have your own kitchen just steps away, those coffee and restaurant trips become an occasional luxury, not a norm.

And with that change, you save big. FlexJobs estimated $1,040 per year on just two weekly lunches and two weekly coffees. If you eat out four or five days each week, you could easily spend more than double that figure! If you do work in the office, try to bring your lunch as often as possible. But even better, you can start working from home and eat better for a lower cost.

Lifestyle + savings = awesome

Working from home is not always picture perfect. It can be isolating and get you addicted to an “always on” working lifestyle. But the benefits far outweigh those risks for many remote workers. And not only do you get better control over your life and your work style, you save big. If you can take home the same paycheck and spend more than $4,000 per year less getting to and from work, you’ve found yourself a solid winning scenario.

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a personal finance expert. He received an MBA in Finance from the University of Denver in 2010. Since graduating he has been blogging about financial tips and tricks to help people understand money better. He is a debt master, insurance expert and currently writes for most of the top financial publications on the planet.

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