I've been working from home as a freelancer for about 11 years now, and I'll admit, it's been a mixed blessing. I love having complete control over my own schedule, but what I don't have so much control over is how much work I actually get, and how much money I can make doing it. Glancing over my records for the ten years for which I have complete records, it looks like on average, I've made about $5,000 less per year as a freelancer than I did when I was working 9 to 5.
This isn't quite as bad as it sounds, though, because my expenses are also lower now that I don't work in an office. For instance, when I lived in Princeton and commuted to work on the Dinky, I used to spend about $800 a year on train fare and another $400 to buy my breakfast each morning at the nearby Wawa. That's over a grand per year I no longer have to spend because my office is now in my home.
Actually, as workers go, I was getting off pretty lightly. Most workers commute by car, and when you factor in all the costs—gas, tolls, wear and tear on the vehicle—that adds up to thousands of dollars a year, not hundreds. The 8 or 9 bucks a week I used to spend on my weekday breakfasts is dwarfed by the $37 a week the typical American worker spends on lunches. Also, since my workplace had a casual dress code, I didn't have to spend extra money on a working wardrobe. And the biggest work-related expense of all, child care, didn't affect me since I was single and childless. A less fortunate nine-to-fiver, one who has to pay all these expenses in order to keep working, could be losing as much as $25,000 out of her paycheck by the time she's hauled that bacon home.
For her sake, I've devoted my latest Money Crashers post to ways to save money on the hidden costs of holding down a job. I deal with ways to save on child care, commuting (whether by car, train, bus, bike, or foot), a professional wardrobe, and workday lunches. Because working for a living is hard enough without having to pay for the privilege.
Here's the full article: How to Save Money at Work on 4 Major Job-Related Expenses