By Elise Lévêque
Working from home can be a great way to save on some of the daily costs that are associated with running your own business or being someone else’s employee and being contractually obliged to turn up every day at a certain time to perform certain tasks.
But even those of us that work at home for at least a couple of days a week may be missing out on some great little ways of saving money. It is not just about the money you are saving by not going into an office though, there are a number of areas in which your spending may go up when working at home.
Following are a few useful tips and points of consideration for those of us that think that occasionally having to make a quick dash to the shop for milk before starting work is a huge imposition.
Let’s start with one of the most obvious ways that you can save money by working at home. In the US, the software company SUN estimates that workers who work at home half of the time can save an incredible $1,700 in gas each year.
It’s not just not going to the office that will save you money. If you need to regularly meet potential clients or partners during the day, you should try and have as many of these meetings at your house as possible. Set up a special, professional looking room where you can give presentations and crunch numbers.
You never know, you may be able to sell the second car and create a nice little bedrock reserve of capital for any future expansion/damage control.
Food and Drinks:
This is one of the areas where you may be racking up some unexpectedly high costs. The main dangers here are what is known as ‘all day grazing’ and splashing out on more expensive items such as coffee.
You can save a lot each month by cutting down on the unnecessary extravagances that you use to comfort yourself throughout your working day. A great way to go is turning leftovers from dinner into salads or sandwiches.
If you are an all day grazer then you need to recognize what it is: a sign of boredom. Try combating it by breaking your tasks up in to smaller ones and rewarding yourself with 10-15 minutes of aimless internet surfing instead.
Heating and Electricity:
While you are working during the day, everything else in your house apart from what you need to work and other essential items (like the fridge) should be switched off to ensure maximum savings on electricity.
During the winter, heating your house all day every day can be the real hidden killer to working from home. Fingerless gloves, woolly hats and hot water bottles are cheap and efficient ways to ensure you save a few dollars here and there.
Savings Through Technology:
Some of the biggest potential savings will come from changing the way you operate and the technology you use. Using free programs like Skype and Google Docs, for example, can dramatically reduce your communication costs and allow you to work in real time with a diverse range of actors.
Another example of savings that can be made is through printing. Laser printers may cost more to buy but could save you significantly more on the cost of ink then Inkjet ones. Re-chargeable batteries are another good one to think about.
Taxes and Insurance:
This will differ from place to place and provider to provider, but you may well be able to write off some fairly significant things as legitimate expenses and help reduce the tax bills.
With regards to insurance, it may be worth making a few purchases like better locks and security systems now so that your insurance premiums come down over the long term.
If anyone else has any great ways to cut down the expenses while working at home, then please share them below.
Elise Lévêque is a freelance translator who has now settled in Bristol after being blown about by the wind for a few years. Due to being her own boss, Elise is well aware of the trials and tribulations of working at home, including the daily cake break and losing vitally important telephone numbers down the back of the sofa.