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Create a Home Office on a Budget
Working from home is a dream come true for many people. It brings freedoms and benefits that no ordinary office job can provide. While you will save money on daily expenses like business attire, transportation, coffee to go, meal costs – or just the cost of brown bags – you will have expenses. There is no one to complain to when the photocopier runs out of paper. You may still have to pay for childcare, pet sitting, file folders, office furniture, electronics and of course, a fast internet connection and dedicated phone line.
These tips are designed to help you manage the costs associated with working from home.
Depending on your job, and whether you have customers visiting your house, you may not require additional insurance for your home office. If your position is strictly telecommuting, you should contact your insurance provider and see if your current home insurance policy is sufficient. Be sure to ask about coverage for equipment such as your fax machine, computers and other job related tools.
Fax / Photocopier / Printer / Scanner
These items consume supplies, take up space and cost money to purchase or replace. Look for one machine that is capable of performing all of the above tasks and has wireless capability, since this will allow you to place it wherever you like. Pay attention to the cost of ink refills, or consider refillable cartridges. Some companies, in response to consumer complaints about increasing costs, are making ink refills that start as low as ten dollars each. It may be wise to pay more for your printer at the outset, if the cost of running it will be substantially less than the competitors.
There are many discount and dollar stores that now sell supplies such as paper, writing implements, file folders, paper clips and other assorted items at a much lower rate than the typical office supply store. If you have trouble finding the time to get out and shop for items, there are also companies that can ship your supplies right to your door. Take advantage of freebies, like pens and promotional items for use in your home office.
You may be able to save money by using these for both your home and office. Many providers will bundle multiple services and offer discounts. Shop around, and pay attention to data limits. Some companies are no longer offering unlimited internet packages. It may be worth paying a little more to avoid data overages on your monthly bill, but if you know how much data you will typically use, it may also be worthwhile to switch to a plan with a limit to save money every month. If you require a dedicated phone line for business, or will be making long distance calls, look into VOIP phones that operate through your internet connection to get unlimited long distance without an expensive calling package.
Remember, if you make your living from home, you may be able to claim all or part of your office expenses, as well as a discount for the percentage of space your office requires in your home.