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I come downstairs most mornings, and my husband is home. His work fills the dining room table and spills over into the floor all around him. I step around boxes to begin fixing breakfast. I serve it buffet style, and we find an available spot in the living room to eat.Hidden Costs of Working From Home

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Guest post by: Jennifer Self

Sometimes the clutter of working from home begins to drive me crazy, and I realize that just because we are living our dream does not mean things are always easy. Anything valuable comes with a cost.

Here are a few of the things we trade for the privilege of working at home:


Some people may think freedom from a schedule would be a dream come true. My personal view is that control and calendar begin with the same letter for a reason. I typically plan out my whole year in advance because it makes things feel less chaotic for me.

When my husband worked outside the home, he left the house at a predictable time and arrived home at a particular time. We had meals at pretty much the same time every day. I was in control of my schedule while he was at work because it didn’t involve him.

While we still keep a semblance of routine, we find that no two days are really the same. My husband’s schedule and mine sometimes work like a couple of bumper cars rather than two race cars zooming around the track in parallel motion.


Our home is small. We have six people in a home under 1200 square feet. We don’t have an option to move at this point, and we adapt nicely and rarely think about it.

However, our business requires a lot of shipping, and the boxes easily swallow up the limited space we have. Since I also teach piano lessons, my students have to get used to the occasional tower of boxes next to the piano and our office space crowding into our living areas.

clutter from working from home

Set Income

In my husband’s previous job, he brought home a paycheck. It was the same each week and easily budgeted. He worked a set amount of hours and got paid a set amount for those hours.

Now, we literally get paid by the quality of work we do no matter how many hours it takes. Since our business is dependent on customers, the pay varies greatly. This presents a new challenge to budgeting our money as well as makes the future a little less predictable as far as financial planning.

Just in case you are getting a gloomy picture of working from home, let me take you back to another morning five months ago:

I come downstairs, and my husband is home. He left for work hours ago, and I step over to him, confused. He clears my confusion and the breath from my lungs in one short sentence: “They let me go.”

After a long time of sitting with our raging emotions, I fix breakfast. We sit around our perfectly cleared table and tell the kids what happened. As they try to wrap their heads around a disruption in their whole lifetime of security, they brainstorm solutions. One of my sons speaks up confidently, “I know what we can do! We can get some weird jobs around the neighborhood!”

A beat, as all of us try to figure out what in the world he’s talking about. Then someone says, “You mean odd jobs?” and hilarious laughter broke the tension of the last two hours.

Whether our new job is weird or odd is a matter of perspective, I suppose. But the clutter covering our dining room table and the boxes I step around now remind me every day that every dream costs something. And trading some space for hope and freedom seems like a great bargain all around.

Jennifer L. Self is passionate about educating, working and living well at home. When she’s not dreaming up new business ideas or spending time with her family, she writes about simplifying and enriching life for the work at home, homeschooling mom on her blog.


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