A perk of being a blogger (and also having a part-time job that allows me to work remotely) is that I have the freedom to work from wherever I want. I really enjoy this freedom. However, for me, working out of our home isn’t an option because of our rambunctious toddler (who is loads of fun and I love to pieces).
It became pretty clear early on in my “newly working” days that I would need part-time childcare throughout the week, and also that because of our living situation, I would have to leave the house during this time. We live in a small apartment on the northwest side of Chicago that doesn’t have a space room to “hide out” in.
So I have certainly found my groove over time in working remotely from coffee shops, Panera Breads, etc.
However, I’ve been realizing that visiting these types of places a few times a week is starting to get expensive! I know I can’t be the only one in this situation, so if you’re someone who works remotely away from home, this article is for you!
3 IDEAS FOR SAVING MONEY WHILE WORKING REMOTELY
1. KEEP IT CHEAP… (BUT REALLY)
The #1 type of place that I find myself working out of is coffee shops. And can anyone blame me? The atmosphere is generally enjoyable and I’m a sucker for coffee.
However, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of getting more than “just coffee”. Recently I have found myself “treating myself” to more expensive drinks, such as Carmel Macchiatos, lattes, etc. These are literally twice as expensive as a cup of coffee. I’m not saying to never treat yourself or enjoy a “special” drink from time to time, but as someone who is trying to be budget-conscious, this cannot be my norm.
As I was thinking through this, I did some basic math and figured that if I was spending $2.50 extra a day on “special” drinks than I would normally spend on just coffee, this would amount to me spending about $10.00 more a week than I already am spending. $10 a week doesn’t sound like much, but when you multiply that by 52 weeks, the number comes to $520/year. Yikes!Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it since we are trying to save money.
Additionally, I tend to be someone who easily comes up with excuses and reasons to “treat” myself (ha). So when I was thinking through this the other day, I thought to myself, “I can’t just get a cup of coffee every afternoon. I will get all jittery and feel awful!!!” Well, three points here to refute my defense:
- Decaf coffee exists
- The “special” drinks I enjoy are not void of caffeine (and sometimes even more because of the espresso!)
- There is another cheap option available: TEA
I had legitimately temporarily forgotten that tea was an option, and once I remembered that it was, I knew I no longer could use my phony excuse to regularly spend more money on my favorite drinks.
So… all that to say, if you’re trying to save money while working remotely, you will most likely have to make a conscious choice to “keep it cheap”. Don’t make excuses; be honest with yourself and make sacrifices as you deem necessary.
2. FIND SOMEWHERE FREE TO WORK
There are a lot of options here, many of which I have yet to explore in the coming days in attempts to save more money while out and about. Many of these options you can bring your own coffee (or drink of choice) from home in a closed thermos or water bottle. We have this thermos and love it because it keeps drinks hot (or cold… as in… keeps ice cubes frozen) for literally hours on end and doesn’t leak. It also has a lifetime warranty (bonus!!). We’ve found it to be well worth its value for situations like this!
Here are a few ideas (some of which I like more than others) of free or nearly-free places to work:
- libraries (assuming you don’t have to make any phone calls)
- fast food restaurants (they usually have surprisingly good wifi… and dollar menus)
- hotel lobbies (I haven’t tried this one, but apparently some people really like to do this)
- free museums with seated areas (none in Chicago that I know of, but maybe this option will work for someone elsewhere!)
- parks in downtown areas (I’ve connected to wifi in the past at city parks. Or if you have an Internet “hotspot” on your device, you could enjoy being outside anywhere!)
- grocery store “café”s or seated areas (I have noticed more and more people doing this recently at places like Mariano’s and sometimes Jewel)
3. EAT BEFORE YOU GO OUT OR PACK SOMETHING TO EAT (AKA PLAN AHEAD).
Depending on where you’re going to work, it may or my not be appropriate to bring your own food. However, if you’re going to a place where it is ok to bring your own snacks and you know you’re going to be working there for more than a few hours, plan ahead and pack something to eat!
From my experience, snacks at coffee shops generally aren’t a good value at all. They are usually overpriced and small (at least here in Chicago!). But… I know how it goes- when you’re out and about and start to get hungry, you’ll buy what’s available. I’ve definitely been there!
So I’m realized that rather than spending the extra money on food, I need to plan ahead and either pack my own or eat beforehand to save a few bucks!
All in all, while I know that occasionally I will “treat myself” to lunch or a special drink while working away from home, I know that it can’t be the norm if we are trying to be diligent about saving money and sticking to a budget. I know that implementing these three ideas will help us stay on track with our financial goals while still allowing me to enjoy the freedom and perks of working remotely.