6 Home Office Improvements To Save Money
For the purposes of this article we’ll look at solo professionals — employees and freelancers — who telecommute from home offices. There are additional potential savings if you own your own business and/or your work is classified as a home-based business. Talk to your tax professional. You might be surprised about the savings permitted in your situation!
If You Rent…
As a renter you have less flexibility to change your home office but there are still plenty of things you can do to save money. Here are some to consider:
1) Can you reduce your rent by converting your office into a “pop-up”?
Does it make financial sense to pay for a spare room dedicated solely to the business? For many businesses this makes sense, but not necessarily. For example, some parents have “pop-up” offices that center around the kitchen table while the kids are in school. Everything is put neatly away when the kids return. Other renters convert closets into offices (as shown in this photo).
2) Utilities are big expenses. If you pay, how can you save on these?
For example, you might adjust the times when you work (avoiding the hottest part of the day if you need to run air conditioning). Or, you may purchase removable film for the windows to retain heat in the winter. (I’m a fan of energy-film.com.) Think old-fashioned solutions: draw shades to block the sun during summer afternoons and open windows to cool at night. Or, open all shades for passive heating during the coldest part of winter and block escaping air with draft dodgers.
3) Share your way to saving solutions.
If you are friendly with people in your building you might be able to arrange sharing Internet fees, printers, fax machines, etc. Rather than rent an external co-working space, some telecommuters establish and formalize shared workspace resources right at home. The “sharing economy” is a growing trend thanks to the social web and the ability to find and borrow what you need rather than own it outright.
You may benefit from some of these homeowner tips, too.
If You Own…
As a homeowner you have the freedom to replace drafty windows, add more insulation, or reduce home-office utility demands — some of the great expenses! Look for house projects that will reduce energy use for the greatest energy-cost savings.
Many will increase the value of your home at the same time, like solar water or home heating, for example. If your home office is located in a detached work area on the property (such as a converted garage, barn, garden shed, or other structure) evaluate its energy-efficiency carefully.
Now, for some other money-saving tips…
1) Use the “sharing economy” to save.
You too can greatly benefit from the emerging “sharing economy,” just like renters — perhaps even more. Your neighbors may be too geographically removed to share some resources, but savings can be found by using websites like Yerdle.com (San Francisco area). Gain more ideas about “selling access, not ownership” by browsing sites like Shareable.net.
2) Use your home (not necessarily the office) to earn extra cash.
Using the sharing economy concept, you can do more than rent a room to earn extra cash and save on expenses. Some examples include: renting your parking space (ParkAtMyHouse.com), watching a dog (DogVacay.com), or freeing up designer items from your closet (RentTheRunway.com).
3) Tap the “waste stream” for the best deals.
This tip applies to renters too, but homeowners can benefit more because they are less mobile and tend to have better storage facilities. The idea is simple: Don’t buy anything new. When you need something look for it first on Craigslist or at your local thrift store, such as Goodwill. You won’t find all your office supply needs but you can inexpensively buy and refinish office furniture. Occasionally you can find peripheral electronics and other useful things.
Working from home doesn’t mean you need to absorb great cost.
Some of the infrastructure you’ll need you’re already paying for as part of your home expenses. For everything else, there are sharing, selling, and thrifting!
[Image Credit: Ian Lamont / Flickr]
Katie McCaskey is a freelance journalist who writes about money saving tips for VistaprintDeals.com, the official coupon code site for Vistaprint.com. Katie is a small business owner, author, and pro journalist with over a decade of experience.