As many people have realized, working from home can be quite different from working in the office. You have to set up a workspace in your home, figure out how to be productive while helping your children with schoolwork and learn how to get the most flattering shots of your face for virtual meetings.
However, working from home provides a lot of opportunities that working in an office doesn’t. You can play your favorite music, wear comfortable clothes and take breaks without feeling guilty.
Revise Your Budget
One of the best financial moves you can make when you work from home is to review your budget. After all, your lifestyle has substantially changed. You’re probably driving a lot less, eating out less and using more electricity that you did when you worked at the office.
Take a look at what you’ve spent over the past month or two and see if you’ve spent more than you planned in any of your budget categories, as well as what budget categories still have a significant amount of money left in them at the end of the month. Once you’ve finished looking over your budget, you’ll probably want to update it.
Remember, you don’t simply have to transfer money from categories with a surplus to categories in which you’ve overspent. You can also adjust the budget amount of categories based on your new lifestyle. Here are some suggestions:
- Take money out of your restaurant budget and put it into your cooking budget
- Reduce your gasoline budget and put the extra money into a better Internet connection
- Lower your clothing budget and spend the extra money on a new hobby
If you don’t have a budget, though, there’s no better time to create one. You can download our free budgeting calculator to get started.
Review Your Insurance Policies
While you're reviewing your budget, you'll also want to review your insurance policies. You should especially look into your auto insurance, since you may be eligible for a rate reduction if your insurance policy is based on how much you drive.
Build Up Your Savings
Of course, you don’t have to spend all the unused money in your budget. You can also use it to pad out your savings account.
This is especially good advice considering how uncertain times are thanks to COVID-19. If your emergency fund doesn’t have at least three months’ worth of salary, consider putting most of the unspent money in your budget in a savings account.
If you do happen to have a robust emergency fund, though, why not make your savings work for you? Take a look at investment opportunities like certificates of deposit or transfer your money from a savings account to a money market account with a higher interest rate.
Invest In Yourself
One of the benefits of working from home is how much free time you get back in your budget, whether its time saved during the commute or not having to go out to eat during your lunch break. One of the best ways to use that free time is to learn a new skill.
Thanks to online learning, you can teach yourself almost any skill you’d like, from picking locks to assembling your own desktop computer. You may even be able to get a new certification in your chosen field. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you could even work towards getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree online.
Plan Meals Each Week
One of the most overlooked ways your workday will change when you start working from home is what you’ll do for lunch. While getting meals delivered is still an option, you can also whip up something to eat in your own kitchen.
Take advantage of this fact by planning out your meals each week. Figure out what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then buy all the groceries you need. This will help cut down on impulse buys, and it will also help you cut down on getting food delivered when you and your partner just don’t know what you want to make for dinner that night.
Don’t forget, just because you’re planning your meals each week doesn’t mean one or two of those meals can’t be something from a restaurant.
Invest In A Nice Office Space
If you’re working from home, spend some money and upgrade your work space to help you stay focused and be more productive throughout the day. This won’t have any direct financial benefit, but it will help you perform better at your job and show your supervisors that you can be productive with minimal supervision, which will yield benefits in the future.
Among the items you should buy for your home office are:
- A nice chair
- A small desk
- A web camera
If this seems expensive, you can save some money by buying used furniture. Be sure to check online classified sites such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. You can also check with your company’s HR department to see if they will compensate you for any money you spend improving your office workspace.
Take Advantage Of Working From Home With First Alliance Credit Union
Working from home can be very different than working in an office, but it also provides financial opportunities that working in an office does not. If you adjust your budget for your current needs and invest in yourself, you’ll end the pandemic in a better place than you started.
If you really want to take advantage of the opportunities that working from home provides, become a member of First Alliance Credit Union today. You can save money in our traditional savings accounts and money market accounts, create a budget using the My Money feature in online banking and learn more about updating your budget in our Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting.