Work from home budget
What changes you should be making to your everyday finances when working from home Image Credit: Seyyed Llata | Senior Designer, Gulf News

Dubai: Hundreds of companies worldwide are quickly embracing a work-from-home culture that began during the start of the coronavirus pandemic, multiple surveys show.

These surveys also reveal how most working professionals see remote working rising over the next few years, when analysing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on work culture.

As that happens, surveys are also beginning to show how globally people are discovering the net costs of working from home.

While some obvious costs may be cut, any change in lifestyle can come with hidden expenses that can add up if you aren’t prepared.

Here are key areas where you might see some savings and surprise splurges. So be sure to think through your budget — particularly when it comes to keeping track of your spending.

Uneven drop in food expenses

As you work from home, you’re most likely no longer shelling out money for the usual morning coffee run or buying lunch each day.

Reports show on average an office worker spends between Dh7,350 to Dh9,800 a year on for both coffee and lunch, globally. With the start of work-from-home, these expenses were markedly brought down.

Another reason why these expenses were brought down was that with the income-tightened setting seen worldwide, costs were seen rising elsewhere, personal finance experts opine.

While only a few companies take on employee food costs, if you're working at home, those costs will land on your plate. But it's not just higher household grocery bills for three meals a day.

Several market research also show that global snack food consumption rose since the pandemic, a number that was already expected to rise in the coming years.

What's more, being housebound could make you want to occasionally treat yourself to a nice meal, but ordering take out can also throw off your budget.

While some suggest to take the time to meal plan each week, others recommend that writing out what your household regularly consumes can make you more efficient with using leftovers, and intentional rather than impulsive about last minute grocery store purchases.

Another market-wide survey indicated that fifty six per cent of consumers said they plan to avoid food waste by saving meals for another day. That's a strategy that’s easier on your wallet as well.

How much are you saving on commute?

Your rush hour commute may now be replaced by moving within your rooms when it comes to video calls for work, saving on your monthly transportation costs.

If you're no longer driving to the job, you could see savings on gas, tolls and parking. There's also less wear-and-tear on your automobile, so you won't have to spend as much to maintain and repair it.

Moreover, if you don't have to spend on a monthly bus or train ticket, that can also boost your bottom line.

While many companies offer employee commuter benefits or travel allowances, which often goes into daily transportation, working-from-home can bring these costs down, there is one aspect to consider.

If you work from home, financial planners advise that one needs to keep in mind that whether you own or lease a vehicle, you'll still have the same payments to make, even if you're using it less.

One needs to also consider the number of automobiles in your household and check the possibility to go from a two-car family to one car, which could lower how much you pay each month for automobiles and insurance.

Moreover, another factor advisors suggest if you are driving fewer miles, is to seek a discount on your car insurance by calling your insurance company and talking to them about the change in driving habits.

Factoring in a change in average childcare costs

For many working parents, the question is about how much will you save on childcare while working from home? It depends on a number of factors.

One of the effects of the change in working setting is personal availability, to attend to a child’s need and weigh the need for a nanny. Though it varies with each household, but you likely won't have to pay as much.

And if childcare centres or nurseries resume functionality to pre-pandemic normalcy, you could have more time to drop off and pick up your child by being home.

The average salary for a full-time nanny, not including her visa and living costs, is about Dh2,000 per month – costs that you could potentially save on if you decide against hiring an nanny.

Another child-related expense that planners say to factor in is the travel expenses if your child goes to school, when compared to taking online classes – as is the current growing trend.

However, while this may result in savings, the need to be able to manage these changes to your child’s lifestyle, alongside your work-from-home schedule may pose a challenge, which weighs in favour of hiring a full-time helper for your children’s needs at home.

Meaning, if you choose to no longer send your child to day-care or aftercare, you could still end up paying for a babysitter or someone else to help with school. If that's not a realistic financial option or if your child distracts you from work you may decide to cut back on work hours, which would mean reduced income.

Some recommended ways to lower your childcare costs is if you can block your work calendar in the after-school hours to be with your child and make up the work time in the evening, then you can cut back on after-school program costs.

Also, many businesses are increasingly realising the challenges working parents face, so ask your company if it offers any type of childcare reimbursement.


Some un-dismissible miscellaneous savings that can help

With far fewer in-person meetings and interactions, you might not spend or feel compelled to update your work wardrobe as much as you did earlier. Additionally, you're also likely to see lower dry-cleaning bills as well.

With appetite to shopping returning like never before — probably even more so in the new work from home reality, there is a growing trend that surveys are currently indicating.

While consumers aren't spending as much on work related clothing and footwear purchases, they're buying lots of other things online, with sports and home fitness equipment, as well as children's and adult bicycle sales experienced double digit sales increases this year.

Similarly, Netflix subscriptions surged during the coronavirus pandemic. When it comes to shopping online, planners reiterate that one be mindful of impulsive spending, as that can blow a hole in your budget.

A widely-recommended personal finance remedy against impulsive buying and the little costs that can quickly add up, is to create two lists: one for things you need to buy and another for long-range items you want to buy. And planners add that if you're running up a shopping tab on your credit cards, develop a good plan for paying off the balance.

Keeping track of a possible surge in utility costs

When your home becomes a remote office, overhead costs like upgraded internet speed, mobile data plans and office supplies can take a bit out of your income, even as you save elsewhere.

There's no avoiding the fact that more time at home means increased energy usage. When you work from home, you're on the hook for absorbing the costs of powering your house during business hours - think electricity, heating and air conditioning, and water.

According to, most people working from home are paying about $121 (Dh444) per household globally more a month for utilities.

While keeping track of these increased expenses when budgeting, matter experts say you could see savings by investing in home upgrades to boost energy efficiency, while adding that changes like switching to environmentally friendly lightbulbs or a smart thermostat can make a difference.

If you're looking to make a longer-term investment, consider installing solar panels, energy-efficient windows or additional insulation.