I've worked from home for 9 years — and I've saved $30,500 on lunches, gas, business attire, and coffee

Steven JohnThe author, Steven John.
  • Working from home can save you thousands of dollars each year.
  • Some of the biggest savings come from cooking at home, not having to buy dress clothes, and not spending money on commuting.
  • Costs of working from home include using your own internet and electricity – and navigating a new type of work-life balance.
  • I’ve been working from home for nine years, and it’s helped me save about $US3,400 per year, or more than $US30,000.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After working in the entertainment industry for a number of years, I switched to writing full time in my late 20s. I have been a self-employed writer for nine years now, working from home five days a week.

At first, adjusting to self-employment came with plenty of struggles. There was the process of getting myself on a manageable schedule, the balancing of the home as both my residence and my workplace, and of course there was the hustle to find enough work to make my new arrangement worthwhile.

One thing I appreciated right from the start, though, was the money I saved by using my home as my workplace. Assuming you are a remote employee, or that as self-employed professional you have already factored in costs traditionally covered by employers, like insurance benefits and paid time off, working from home can markedly cut your expenses.

I estimate that working from home saves me $US3,389.30 a year. That comes out to an astonishing $US30,504 for the full nine years I’ve been working remotely.

Read on to see how those savings break down.


I’ve saved more than $US15,700 just by making my lunches at home for nine years.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Back in the day, I’d often eat a quick microwave meal at my desk when there was just too much work to get done. Other days, I would go out with friends for a meal that could easily add up to $US20.

These days, I make my lunches at home – usually a sandwich, a salad, or the occasional plate of pasta and meatballs, because, hey, who’s going to stop me? I’m in my own kitchen.

I calculate that my lunches made at home cost an average of $US3 daily, or $US15 weekly. Assuming two workplace desk lunches at $US3.99 each and three out-of-office meals at $US14 each, I was spending about $US2,499 per year on lunch, assuming a 50-week work year.

At $US3 daily, I am spending about $US750 a year on workweek lunch. So that’s $US1,749 staying in the bank.


I don’t commute to work anymore, which saves me about $US860 on gas every year, or close to $US8,000.

AP Photo/Chuck Burton

It’s plain to see that commuting fuel was a huge expense from my budget that I have totally cut.

When I commuted to the office, my round-trip drive was about 32 miles. That adds up to 8,000 miles a year (I’m using a 50-week estimate, because vacations exist).

Using current gas prices and an estimate of 25 miles a gallon, I came up with a total of $US860.80 for those 8,000 miles each year. That comes out to $US7,747 saved annually.


I no longer have to buy dress shirts and slacks for work, so I’ve saved almost $US600 on clothing every year.

10’000 Hours/Getty Images

The last office I worked in had a semi-formal dress policy, so I wore button-down shirts daily and ties many days a week (though, truth be told, I slid toward the casual side after a few years).

If your office has a dress code that necessitates buying any type of clothing you wouldn’t normally use, working from home can save you a decent chunk of change on apparel.

Assuming I would buy four new dress shirts, three pairs of slacks, and three ties each year, I estimate a savings of $US580 a year on dress clothes, using J. Crew as my reference, because that has long been my go-to for such clothing.


Now that I make my coffee at home, I’ve saved about $US120 every year.

trekandshoot/Shutterstock

I never spent that much on coffee, as my office always had plenty of pots going. But I did grab a latte with lunch or once in a while on the way to work, so let’s be conservative and call it $US3.99 a week, or $US199.50 a year.

Now, I spend about 30 cents a day on my two home-brewed cups of coffee, or $US1.50 weekly. That’s $US75 a year, or a $US124.50 savings. If you get a cup of coffee at $US3.99 daily, you could save hundreds by making your own coffee at home.


And I’ve saved $US75 a year on data overage charges because I’m always connected to my home’s internet.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

As my phone is always connected to my home’s Wi-Fi, I’m almost never using data, and never doing so for work unless I’m on a trip.

In fact, in all my years of working from home, I have only gone over my Verizon data plan three times, and all of them occurred while I was overseas.

Assuming a modest five times of going over, I would pay $US75 in annual fees, as Verizon charges $US15 per overage. Instead, most years, I pay nothing, as I never come close to using all of it.

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