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Many of us are adapting to working from home instead of going to the office every day. Did you know that you can claim tax back on some things – and a home working allowance, too?
There are so many ways you can save money working from home! Many employers are set to keep remote working as an option for employees even when lockdown is lifted – so it’s well worth reading about these money-savvy home working tips and tricks!
Your employer might not pay for you to buy a new desk, chair, or lamp – but you can claim tax relief on ones you buy yourself.
The P87 form allows PAYE workers who work remotely to claim tax relief at their rate on home office essentials, up to the total of £2,500 a year. So, if you pay 20% tax, you’ll get that much relief – while higher-rate payers will receive 40% relief.
If you use your own vehicle for work, and your employer doesn’t pay expenses, you can claim for that, too. This doesn’t include commuting to and from your regular place of work (i.e., the office), but if you have to travel for work that is included.
Find out how to claim on the Gov.uk website here.
Employees who are working from home can request an extra weekly allowance from their employer. This is to cover the rise in utilities bills, as working remotely means you’re using more electricity, gas, and water.
The allowance for 2020/21 is £6 per week and is paid tax-free. If you’re claiming for these expenses via a P87 form, you can’t also request this home working allowance.
You’ll need to ask your employer to arrange this allowance for you. They can refuse, but it is unlikely (and if they do, you can use the P87 form to claim tax relief for yourself).
Note that the gross figure on your payslip won’t change. Instead, you’ll pay £6 a week less tax.
Do you need to print things out? Post things? Any costs involved in normal office activities should be covered by your employer.
Speak to your boss to find out what you can expense each month. Whatever you buy must be exclusively for business use, but if you’re using materials or – for example – a work mobile phone, this should be paid by the company.
Keep all your receipts – and if you’re paid hourly, remember to include the time spent shopping for supplies and posting items.
As well as claiming working from home allowances and expenses, you can always do more to save money while remote working.
Switching energy suppliers, for example, could save you hundreds of pounds each year. Remember to also consider switching other suppliers, such as broadband and home insurance, to keep premiums down and long-term savings up!
You could also:
A jumper could be all you need – instead of turning the thermostat up! Before you turn your heating up, take a look at what you’re wearing. If you could add socks, a jumper, or an extra layer, this could save you a lot over the course of a month or year.
Working from home means the kettle becomes a welcome distraction. Tea breaks can shake up the monotony of Zoom calls and spreadsheets! Instead of boiling a full kettle each time, only boil the water you need. It saves significant energy over time.
When you’re done for the working day, shut your computer down – and then switch it off at the wall. The same goes for any appliances you’re not using – it saves a lot of energy over a short space of time!
If you live alone or with a partner, you could also consider requesting a water meter. These aren’t suitable for larger properties or families, as it works out expensive – but for couples and single people, it saves hundreds of pounds per year. (A real-life example: this writer paid £42 a month for a non-metered supply – and now pays £12 a month, saving £360 a year!).
Now’s a great time to look at food wholesalers for regular products you use a lot. Pasta, potatoes, even flour – it’s much cheaper to buy these in bulk where you can. With the coronavirus shutting down the hospitality industry, all the wholesalers who usually supply restaurants and hotels now have lots of excess stock. That means they’ve opened their doors to regular customers like you!
If you don’t have the space for sacks of potatoes, don’t fret. Work out what you use the most in your cooking and find the largest packets or buy-one-get-one-free deals.
Once you’ve done your weekly shop, make the most of these bulk ingredients – and batch cook. Even if you’ve got a tiny (or no) freezer, batch cooking means you can prepare 4 or 5 portions at the same time and pop them in your fridge for the next few days.
Batch cooking saves a lot of time – and a LOT of money. Every time you’re tempted to call for a takeaway dinner because you’re tired, stop! Think of the frozen healthy dinners you’ve already got at home. In the time it takes to defrost and cook one, your takeaway meal would be getting cold on its way to you.
Many of us with gym memberships choose one near work, so we can go before or after the working day, or even in our lunch break. As gyms are closed and you’re not walking around the office during the day, sitting working from home could leave you a little fluffy around the edges.
You don’t have to stump up extra costs to get fit at home, though! There are tons of free exercise videos online that you can follow without the need for lots of equipment, either. If you’re home working AND home schooling your children at the same time, use a daily exercise video as part of their education, too.
You’ll get fit together, expend excess stressful energy, and not spend any extra cash either!
What else are you saving on while you’re working from home? If you commute by car, your fuel expenses will drop. Train commuters won’t have to pay for their fare (and could get a refund on season tickets).
You might also save on things like clothes, if your office has a strict dress code. You’re not wearing suits and shirts at home – we all know you’re in your favourite three sets of joggers and sweatshirts (because we do that, too!).
You’re also not buying a coffee on your way to work each morning, or paying for a Meal Deal every day at lunch.
Consider how much you’re saving each week by not going to work. Tuck the equivalent away in a savings account, instead. This’ll quickly build an emergency savings buffer without you feeling the pinch!
One further money-saving hack while you’re at home is to use your spare time to enter competitions! Take the time you’d normally have for your morning commute and start entering competitions to win cash, vouchers, and all sorts of stuff.
Check out our new Competitions and Freebies thread on the MoneyMagpie Messageboard. It’s updated regularly with all sorts of ways to win and boost your work-from-home morale!
Plus, if you get stuck into the conversations elsewhere on the messageboard, you could win a £25 Amazon voucher, too. Every week, the best post wins – so get chatting with other Magpies, the MoneyMagpie team, and special experts happy to answer your questions!