Back to the Office? Remember to Budget for These 3 Expenses

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With the coronavirus pandemic coming to an end, your time working from home could be drawing to a close, too. If you’re scheduled for a return to the office, here’s a refresher of the expenses you can expect when working in person again. 

1. Commuting

Unless you can walk to the office, you’re going to have to think about commuting costs. 

For people who have access to public transit, that’s the price of your monthly pass. But for those with cars, you’ll have to factor in parking and gas. 

If you’re driving every day, it’s also a good idea to put some cash away for any unexpected repair work. According to the AAA, you should aim to save at least $50 a month just in case all your commuting back and forth puts your car through the wringer. Eventually, these monthly contributions will add up to help with even big repairs.

If your car breaks down before you have a decent-sized repair fund, you can pull out your phone and look for online loans. You can find and apply for loans by phone anywhere you can get Wi-Fi, even if you’re on the side of the highway waiting for a tow truck.

Some online cash advance loans have super quick mobile applications that make it easy to get the cash you need in an emergency. 

2. Lunch Breaks

Back in the office means eating lunch in the break room again. There you’ll be tempted by vending machines and coffee runs, as well as treating yourself to getting takeout for lunch. 

A little treat here and there won’t bust your budget, no matter what some financial advisors may claim. However, you could see your savings drain away if you rely on takeout options every day. Even a modest $10 lunch from Subway costs $50 a week. That’s $200 a month or $2,500 a year!

Relying on takeout all the time often comes down to a time management problem. It’s hard to find the time and energy to prepare meals when you’re back at the grindstone. 

It’s going to take some doing, but you can carve out time when you can pack your lunches. Meal prep experts recommend assigning a whole afternoon to making all the lunches for the week. All it takes is an hour or two each week to make, pack, and freeze your work meals in advance. 

3. Clothes

Gone are the days of Zoom calls, when you could show up to a meeting wearing a professional top with sneaky sweats on the bottom. You’re going to have to dust off your professional wardrobe for your return to the office.  

But for some people, clothing represents another big cost of going back to the office. Plenty of people put on the “quarantine 15” after a year under lockdown. If you’re one of them, you might need to purchase new clothes that fit. 

According to, building a new professional wardrobe from scratch should take no more than 7% of your take-home pay. Depending on your salary, this may not be a lot. To help you stretch your budget, check out these tips to fill your closet.

Bottom Line

A return to normal promises some changes to your budget. Keep these tips in mind to help you prepare your wallet for in-person work.


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