AARP Eye Center
Returning to the office has gotten pricier post-pandemic. Two years after the world shut down due to COVID-19, prices for everything from gas to food are skyrocketing. That’s causing dismay for many of the nation’s workers as they return to the office full or part time after months of working remotely from home.
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“There is absolutely sticker shock for people who are paying gas prices that are 30 percent or 40 percent more than what they paid two years ago pre-pandemic,” says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, cofounder of TheMoneyCoach.net. “It’s not only that. There’s a whole bunch of other expenses that have skyrocketed in price.”
Supply chain delays, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and strong consumer demand have all played a role in driving inflation to a 40-year high in February. Gas prices as of February were up 38 percent year over year, while food away from home costs were 6.8 percent higher than a year ago. Apparel and transportation expenses were both up more than 6 percent from last February. Add increasing childcare costs to the mix, and workers are paying a lot more to go back to the office. Short of negotiating a remote work arrangement, returning employees have to get creative to keep those expenses down. The good news is there are many ways to do that.
Whether you drive, take public transit or use a ride-sharing service, getting to and from work has gotten a lot more expensive since COVID-19 hit U.S. shores. That means a bigger portion of your disposable income has to go to commuting costs when you return to work. There are several ways to save on gas, including shopping around for the best price, limiting the number of trips you take and keeping your vehicle properly maintained. To take the savings even further, Khalfani-Cox says, workers need to think about substitutions. “Yes, you have to get from your place of residence to your job, but does it really have to be in your own vehicle,” she says. “What opportunities are there to take public transit, is it viable to carpool, or perhaps ride a bike or even walk to work?” If you are a two-car household, use the vehicle that is cheapest to fill up for the longest commute or, even better, carpool together. If your employer is flexible, try to come into the office and leave during off-peak times. You won’t be stuck in traffic, wasting gas as your vehicle idles away.