7 Financial Tips for Working from Home
If your morning commute is the 20-foot walk to your kitchen table, you may be one of the 22 million employees working from home in the U.S. There are millions more self-employed folks in a similar position. Whichever group you’re in, it’s important to consider the financial implications of your work situation. Following smart work habits can help to stretch your hard-earned dollars further and make sure you’re financially protected.
If you haven’t reviewed your work habits since first quarantining at home, it’s high time you do. Start with these seven bits of financial wisdom.
1. Protect Your Assets Online
You’ll need to think more like an employer to protect your finances and other assets, even if you work for a company. Whether you’re starting a business from scratch or your company changed its work policy, you likely won’t have the protection and assistance that a dedicated IT team can provide.
Protect your assets with cybersecurity. You’ll want to minimize any vulnerabilities in a home system that could put your personal information and sensitive client data at risk. If you handle sensitive information such as social security numbers or clients’ credit card numbers, antivirus and internet security software can help you keep that information, and your business, safe.
Ask your employer about additional precautions. If you’re connecting your computer to your company’s virtual private network (VPN), you want to make sure you’re not inadvertently exposing your home system to hackers. Ask your employer what measures you should take to protect both yourself and your job. Secure your home Wi-Fi, create strong passwords, and keep your operating system up to date.
2. Use Helpful Financial Services Provided at Currency Exchanges
You might be surprised at the variety of services provided at your local Currency Exchange (CCEA). When checks start coming in, the nearest CCEA will be ready to cash them for you and help get your vendors paid on the spot. You can get these financial tasks done, renew your license plate, make photocopies, and load up your Ventra card – in a place with more flexible hours and faster service than a bank.
3. Ask for a Refund on Work Products
Many people who found themselves working remotely during the pandemic have had to create impromptu offices wherever they could. A recent study showed that few companies (20-25%) were covering any of their costs for home office equipment and furnishings. Their policy may limit the expenses they’ll cover, but it’s also possible the workers didn’t ask to be reimbursed. Find out if your employer will pay for any work-related purchases you’ve made.
4. Talk to an Illinois Tax Professional
If you’re self-employed, those office supplies, equipment, and other home office expenses can likely be written off as deductions, lowering your taxable income. Consider consulting with an expert who can help you with your taxes and advise you on keeping your records in order. Self-employed workers often need help establishing good record-keeping routines and understanding home-based business tax deductions, expenses, and financial considerations.
5. Keep Detailed Records of Business Expenses
No accountant can help you if you don’t keep records and receipts of business-related expenses. The IRS lets you deduct expenses that are “both ordinary and necessary.” Just be sure to keep your personal and business expenses separate.
Deductions get trickier when you’re running a business out of your home. Generally, you’re not allowed to deduct personal, living, or family expenses. But what if something is used partly for business and partly for personal purposes? You’ll need to do the match and deduct just the business part – one area where that tax professional can help.
6. Create an Expense-Tracking System
This might not sound fun, but you’ll be so glad you did it. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need a consistent, reliable system for tracking and budget for work-related expenses. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple spreadsheet or budgeting app will help you stay on top of your expenditures, especially if you travel for work.
7. Protect Your Time
Do you have any roommates? How about a spouse who loves to chat in the middle of the day? Some work-at-home types stick to their schedule no matter what. But if you share your home with other people, or are easily distracted by whatever is happening out your window, time management might be your biggest challenge.
It becomes a problem when you end up working longer hours than necessary or struggle to do your job at all. To protect your time, and your sanity, block off hours in the day that you will dedicate to different aspects of your job, such as paperwork or making calls. Set aside time every week for tasks like invoicing that are necessary and easy to overlook.
Community Currency Exchanges throughout Illinois are great resources for remote employees and anyone starting a home-based business. Send us an email or stop by the nearest location to find out more!
With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.