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Budgeting for Your Pandemic Home Office

To slow the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses had little choice but to allow, or require, non-essential employees to work from home. While some people may have offices already set up in their homes, many people found themselves faced with the expense of maintaining their normal work setup in their house, incurring expenses that may have included the need for a home computer, work-related software, printer, desk, chair, hot spot, Internet upgrade, and more. And if someone in your household was laid off, furloughed, or forced to close, unplanned expenses can be especially hard.

While many states have some laws in place requiring employers to compensate employees for work-related expenses, the rules regarding expenses toward home office equipment purchased during a pandemic aren’t as clear. That doesn’t mean your employer won’t pick up the bill on varied expenses. According to an Aon survey of roughly 1,400 companies in the U.S., more than 1 in 5 say they are helping to pay for employees’ home office needs, CNBC recently reported. If you’re one of the many who has shelled out money so as to work more efficiently from home, the first step would be to talk to your employer about the cost of working from home and what expenses they are willing to reimburse you. One thing to note is that companies are required in every state to reimburse workers for job-related expenses that would drop their income below minimum wage.

Whether your employer reimburses you for home office purchases, if you’re still feeling the pinch of the added expense, it’s time to make a budget. Most financial experts suggest creating an emergency fund for times of crisis. To start saving, take a look at your current spending. Cutting down on expenses like eating out and entertainment can go a long way. Take a look at your credit cards— do you have any subscriptions that can be canceled or put on hold? In this way you can reduce expenses for nonessentials to help you weather this crisis and fund any necessities for your home office to keep you focused, comfortable, and able to perform your job.