Are you working from home full-time? Or maybe you got to keep a day job, but there’s extra work to be had from your hidden writing or graphic design skills so you have a second job done right at the comfort of your own home?
Another scenario is office workers who frequently bring materials to work on at home, so they need that extra space the house where they could do extended work.
For all these, the ideal solution is to maintain a home office. In the following sections, we will take a look at why there is a need for you to cut back on your home’s operational expenses, and determine the ways you can implement the money-saving tips.
Why Is There a Need to Cut Back on a Home Office’s Operational Costs?
First, why is there a need for freelancers or home office workers to cut back on operational costs? Let’s say that you are a work-at-home entrepreneur or you are working from home full time.
Your intention in working at home in the first place is to cut back on the expenses related to commuting to and from work. You also will naturally enjoy the benefits of working at your own pace and time. So why would you splurge on any type of home office expense if it will dispute your purpose of saving money in the first place?
As the owner of a home-based office operation, your number one goal should be to have a low overhead cost. The more money you save, the more profits you will enjoy from your home-based business. Being conscious of the way that you spend money on a home-based operation will prevent overspending and decreasing your supposed profits.
One of the dangers of working from home is that expenses may add up because you have just one area for your home life and your work life. If you had pizza delivered for dinner, for example, and you don’t have change, it is quite easy to delve into your office’s petty cash box and get the money from there.
If you do this often, you are actually mixing up your home and work-related expenses, which would not do your business any good. Setting up house rules on how you should separate your finances for work and home is also a great idea to cut back on operational expenses. Working at home and saving money on operational costs will also save you money in the long run by giving you tax liens and similar benefits.
Top Ways to Save Money on Your Home Office
Now that you already have an idea about how important it is to cut back on a home office’s operational costs, let us count down the ways by which you can save money. Take a look at the following list:
If you are spending money on maintaining the home office itself, think of less costly alternatives
Are you renting or co-renting office space? If yes, how much are you spending per month? If you end up bringing home additional work anyway, then why would you spend money on office or workspace rental?
A great alternative would be for you to simply put up a pop-up work desk. Work-at-home moms can simply clear the kitchen table and set up a temporary work station there.
Once the kids get back from school, you can keep everything away and get back to using the kitchen table in the traditional sense. If you are not paying anything for home office rental fees, then that’s a perfectly fine setup.
When furnishing your home office, there’s absolutely no need for you to splurge on furniture and other work-related equipment
If you’re working at home full time, you probably sit on your desk around eight hours per day. You might be tempted to invest in a brand new oak, pine, dark cherry of transparent fiberglass desk. But is this expense really necessary?
The only weight that the desk will carry anyway is your laptop computer or the LCD screen of a desktop, a mouse and some paper. As long as the design of the table and your computer chair is ergonomic, then you can spend hours on end working behind the desk for the core of your home business.
Aside from the desk, you can also save big by buying an economical laptop model or a low-cost desktop computer. If you need a filing cabinet, shelves, table lamps and other furnishing for the office, consider buying cheaper ones from flea markets or you can even purchase second used items. For the bookcases, you should consider the weight of the books that you will stack on it.
If you have heavy tomes of books and other reading materials, you should definitely invest in heavier models rather than the paper-thin ones. Another option is for you to purchase one of those industrial type filing cabinets or bookcases, and maybe even use it as a theme for decorating your home office.
Implement ways to save on office supplies
Unless you are printing out documents for client presentations, there is no need for you to spend any more than you have to on special paper or printer ink. If you simply need to print out documents for future filing, purchase cheap copy paper from thrift stores. Choose ones which allow you to print on both sides of the paper.
You can also visit yard sales where you can buy paper clips, a stapler, a scotch tape dispenser, pens, folders and other typical office supplies. However, don’t scrimp on computer peripherals because buying them second hand might cost you bigger in the long run.
What about your utilities?
When you have a home office setup, your utility bills for home and for work will be mixed. You don’t want to pay any more than you have to on electricity, so make sure to operate your office economically. For instance, during the summer, do not work inside your office on the hottest time of the day because the air conditioning unit will need to work over time.
You own your working hours, anyway, so work only during the coolest times of the day. At night, open the windows to let natural air come in. Make sure that your working area is well-lit so you don’t have to use artificial lighting during the daytime. During winter, purchase a removable film for the windows so that heat can be retained.
Ditch the landline, and invest on high-speed Internet
Landline is hardly ever used these days so if you still have this set up on your home office, eliminate the monthly expense by having it disconnected. What you do need to invest on is high-speed Internet and make all your calls and client communication online. Use Skype, Google Hangouts and similar format to communicate with your clients and customers. High-speed Internet is also a must since you need to check your e-mail regularly.
Ask suppliers for discounts on early or on-time payments
Depending on the nature of your home-based business, you will be working constantly with suppliers. Ask them for discounts whenever you pay your bills on time or earlier. This is in addition to the discount that you are already entitled to as a regular client.
Invest in a coffee machine
Instead of ordering fancy coffee from one of those coffee-selling chains, why not invest in your very own coffee machine? The machine should be as versatile as possible and be able to mix black coffee or more elaborate lattes or cappuccinos. When you consider the savings that you will incur over time, the machine will actually pay for itself in the end.
Other tips on how to save money on your home office
There are many other ways that you can save money when operating a home office. For instance, you can shop for insurance plans annually. Do a risk assessment and review your existing home insurance plan.
If you’re not satisfied with what your current provider has to offer, you are perfectly free to shop around for better rates. Most insurance providers rely on the repeat business of customers so if you mention that you are planning to switch companies, they might offer you better rates.
Attend trade shows and events which are related to your line of work. This will expand your network of business contacts and update you about the latest developments in the industry you’re in. If you need to buy supplies or raw materials in bulk, purchase them on a wholesale basis and ask for commercial discounts. If you plan to work with a supplier for a long time, ask for additional perks and negotiate discounts, as well as a long-term buying agreement.
As you can see, there is a multitude of ways by which you can save money on the day-to-day operations of your home-based business. By following these tips, you can significantly save on your home office resources while increasing your profits at the same time.