What Does RTO Mean for Your Budget

More and more offices are calling for a Return to Office. RTO for short, this mandate promises to shake up your average workday as you acclimatize yourself to sitting at a cubicle in a busy office again. But these aren’t the only pain points of your company’s call for RTO. Going back to in-person work reintroduces big expenses to your budget. 

According to a FlexJobs survey, nearly half (45%) of respondents say they save at least $5,000 a year by working remotely. For 20%, working at home saves them $10,000 a year! That averages out to $6,000 per year per person. 

Can your budget survive missing anywhere between $5,000 and $1,000? 

Don’t Put Your Savings on Hold

All that extra spending on gas, a new wardrobe, coffee and lunches with colleagues, etc. — the money for these expenses has to come from somewhere. Many people hit pause on their monthly savings contributions.

At first blush, this seems like the easiest way to deal with new expenses; you can cancel your automatic savings to fund your RTO budget and still get to pay the bills and splurge on fun stuff. But eventually, your emergency fund will start to dwindle. 

One day, you might go to withdraw from this account only to realize you have a zero-dollar balance. What then? In an emergency, you can turn to an online line of credit for help. This account can boost your budget in urgent, unexpected situations, giving you the flexibility to pay off your expense over time. 

But, how does a line of credit work in terms of your RTO plans? Simply put, it doesn’t! An online line of credit is best used as a backup or safety net to your savings for unexpected expenses, like auto repairs or medical expenses. The ongoing cost of your RTO doesn’t suit this definition. 

Sacrifice the Frills Instead

If your savings are off-limits, where can you find money? You can finance your RTO spending by sacrificing the fun stuff in your budget. Look at your entertainment, clothing, and miscellaneous categories of spending — they have the biggest opportunities for savings.

Just think about it — the average person spends $219 a month on subscriptions. The average concertgoer spends $81 twice a week on events. Combined, these entertainment splurges tally far more than $10,000. Keep an eye out for spending on takeout, delivery services, and ridesharing, too. 

Cost out Your Personal RTO Costs

To find out how many gigs you have to avoid and what homecooked meals you have to make, you should figure out what your RTO costs will be. You may not be anywhere near the average found in the survey above, or you could be far above it. 

When crunching the numbers, be sure to include the following expenses in your math:

  • Commuting: gas, parking, wear and tear on your vehicle, transit passes.
  • Food: takeout coffee, lunches, and vending machine snacks. 
  • Clothing: basic shirts, slacks, and shoes. 
  • Childcare: do you have to hire a babysitter for your children?

Start Budgeting Before You Get to the Office

Prepping for RTO early can help you sort out the bugs in your budget long before you start spending your money. 

You shouldn’t have to eliminate all the fun stuff in life to afford to go back to work. If your commuting costs throw your budget’s balance out of whack, it might be time to look for a new job. Take a look at these tips for sprucing up your resuming and writing a stand-out cover letter. 

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