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Working From Home May Not Be Much Cheaper for Older Adults

Grocery and utility bills often increase, even as commuting and dry-cleaning expenses drop

A man working from his kitchen table

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En español | You'd think that working from home might enable workers to save a lot of money, because they don't have to pay for parking or lunch at a restaurant or company cafeteria. But it turns out that may not be the case, according to a YouGov survey of 2,768 adults.

The survey found that boomers are the most frugal remote workers, spending about $24 less per month while they're working at home — a startling contrast to millennials, who have been spending $208 more on average. Almost all — 86 percent — of boomer homeworkers say they spent less on gasoline and public transit; on average their spending on these items decreased $68.08.

In addition, boomers spent 54 percent less on clothes and dry-cleaning expenses, with an average drop of $40.37 on these items. Forty-nine percent spent less on restaurants and takeout food, saving an average of $30.01 here (though 25 percent of boomers spent more — and they spent big, splurging $152.89 a month).

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On the other hand, with remote workers eating at home, 47 percent of boomers spent more for groceries, on average $132.89 a month more. In addition, 27 percent spent more on utilities, increasing costs here by $49.51 on average.

Younger generations often spent more, though they saved money on childcare, an expense not as many boomers have.

"Boomers already seem to be doing a good job saving money while working from home,” industry analyst Ted Rossman said via email. “I'd also stress that this survey focused on a fortunate population — those 30 percent of Americans who are able to work from home and continue to draw steady paychecks. So this group hasn't been as affected by the recession as many others."