While so many of us may have spent the last 18 months working from home, this period of maximum remote working is slowly coming to an end. Yes, a return to office beckons. While we are likely to see the adaptation of ‘hybrid’ working, this also means that a high degree of in-office attendance is re-emerging.
The pandemic introduced a massive change to our daily routines as well as our personal finances. For some, this meant a drop in income but for a majority, it resulted in a sudden and sharp rise in the rate of personal savings. With few options to socialise or travel, personal saving rates boomed.
Return to office is here
Now that Government has sanctioned a return to the office, it is really important to take steps to protect your financial affairs…as well as your health ones too!
Back-to-office tips to save you money
Set up a ‘get-together’ fund.
Keeping up the good money habits that were forced upon us during the pandemic shouldn’t mean avoiding social activities in the months ahead. However, it does mean you should develop a plan to pay for them. Work activities that include an occasional lunch out or after work drinks with friends should be included as part of your weekly budget. This way, you can keep a reign on your saving and spending plans. In fact, you might want to set up a ‘get-together’ fund that pays for those times where you catch up with colleagues and friends.
Public transport or bike-to-work.
Public transport suffered a major loss because of the pandemic. However, as many of us slowly return to the office, this is a perfect time to ask how you plan to get there. Before you decide, take another look at using public transport or cycling. Both options can help reduce your carbon footprint and boost to your personal finances. Both the ’Tax Saver’ and ‘Bike-to-Work’ schemes offer generous tax relief and can be facilitated via employers where the tax relief is managed at source.
Save as you spend.
There is a broad approach to money called the 50:30:20 rule. Its basic recommendation is that when it comes to saving and spending, one should examine needs and wants as well as saving money for future expenses. Using this approach, families should look to save money before spending and the general rule is as follows:
- 20% towards savings, this can include saving into a pension by way of participation in a company Occupational Pension Scheme, a PRSA, AVC and even into a Purchase of Notional Service (PNS). It can also include saving to buy a first home, overpaying a mortgage, saving towards a child’s future education and so forth.
- 30% towards life ‘wants’. This can include a whole range of options including travel, leisure, a better car, some home improvements and much more. In other words, those things that allow us to enjoy life.
- 50% towards life ‘needs’. This includes the essentials, including costs of a mortgage / rent, insurance, clothing, food, and fuel.
In respect to the savings aspect, if you take the approach that you will save before you spend, your savings will be getting a big boost. The trick is to begin with an incremental approach; sign up to a company pension, save a little every day towards a ‘rainy-day’ fund. As the savings begin to grow, so will your motivation to keep it going. Over time, those savings can really add up!
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a little extra money in your account since working from home, don’t let returning to the office become a relapse into old spending habits. Following these simple tips can help you make your finances visible and control some old spending habits along the way. In the long run, if you stick to those good money habits, they can go a long way to helping you achieve your personal money goals.