Whether you started working from home in 2020 or are just now looking into it, use these ten tips to save money on your at-home office and workspace.
#1. Use Furniture and Equipment That You Already Own
If you are working from home, the first thing you want to do is see what you already have on hand. There is no point in buying something new if you do not need it.
Think about whether something can be repurposed.
- Do you have an old kitchen table you can reuse as a desk.?
- Can you use a box or stack of books to create a standing desk?
Likely, you already have some items that can be used in a pinch. Once you know what you have, you can figure out what you need.
#2. Ask Your Employer for a Reimbursement
Certain states in the U.S. require companies to cover home office costs. If you live in or your company is based in California, the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.), Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, or New York, you may be able to get a reimbursement.
You may have heard of deducting office expenses from taxes. However, this only applies if you are self-employed. You cannot deduct these expenses from your taxes if you work for a company.
#3. Deduct Your Home Office from Your Taxes
If you are self-employed, you will deduct some expenses from your taxes. It is essential to talk to a tax specialist to determine what fees you can and cannot remove.
For instance, if your computer breaks down and you need a new one, that counts. However, if you do not need a new computer and want one, you may be able to get it deducted, but you might also get audited.
Office space can only be deducted if you have a dedicated room. Sometimes you can remove a portion of a room, but you will be more likely to be audited again.
The key to deducting from your taxes is to show that the item or items are being used for work purposes. Ideally, the space and items will be work only.
#4. Keep a List of Things You Need to Buy
You figured out what you already have; now it is time for the things you need. Make a list and keep it on hand. This way, you can keep your eye out for sales on those things. When you buy something, mark it off the list.
If you are self-employed and hoping to get a tax break, make sure to make a list of everything you buy, where you bought it, and how much you spent. Keep receipts for proof in case you do get audited. Ideally, these receipts will show only the work items bought.
If you are looking for reimbursement from an employer, you will also need receipts. In this case, you will want a list of items purchased to mark off which ones you got reimbursed for. This way, in the future, you know what your company will and will not return.
#5. Shop Sales Online
Sign up for email notifications with all the local office supply stores and any stores or websites to buy what you need. Check your email every day to see who might be having a sale and whether something you need is on sale.
If you see that something you need is on sale, buy it. To help you save money, set aside money each week or month so that when the deals pop up, you can buy something without using credit.
#6. Print in Black and White
Color printing may be more beautiful, but it is also more costly. To save a little money, print documents in black and white whenever possible. You can also save money by using an inkjet printer. If you do not have one, put it on your list and watch for sales.
Another way to save money for printing is to print at your local library. Local libraries often offer patrons a set number of pages that can be published. Some libraries even provide a set balance that can be used for printing. Either way, you can save a little money by printing at a library.
Lastly, print double-sided if you can. Double-sided printing uses less paper which is better for the environment and better for your wallet.
#7. Buy Used Items
Another way to save if you need something now, but it is not on sale, is to look for a used one. You can buy used ones on Amazon, eBay, auctions, secondhand stores, and more.
You can also join a local Swap Group or Buy Nothing Group and see if anyone has what you need. When it comes to these groups, you often need to pick up the item. Ask a friend or family member to help you if you need to.
#8. Use Free Software
Chances are you already have software and programs on your computer. However, if you need one that you don’t already have, look for a free version. If a free version is not available, look for a cheaper version.
Alternatively, you may find that you need to cut costs on something else to purchase a program. Google docs and Google drive are good free word processing programs. They are also compatible with Microsoft and Apple.
#9. Buy Energy-Efficient Items
Buying energy-efficient items can also help you save money in the long run. Keep in mind that if you already have the thing and it works, buying a newer energy-efficient item will not save you money initially.
If you already own something, add the energy-efficient version that you want to your list of things to buy and save up. However, if you do not already own the item, then purchase it now if you need it. Wait and save money for the item if the need is not urgent.
Other ways to save money on energy and utilities include the following.
- Turning off or unplugging things when they are not in use
- Taking shorter showers and taking fewer showers
- Wearing layers, so you don’t have to have the heater on all the time
There are many more ways to save money while working from home, including the next item on our list.
#10. Make Use of Natural Light
When working from home, take advantage of any natural lighting you may have. This will help you save money on electricity. At first, it may seem inconsequential, but as time goes by, you will see savings.
Try to work during the daylight hours, if you must work at night, try setting up your lights for maximum efficiency.
Lastly, you can save money while working from home by cooking more at home. Use the time you save by not commuting to work to cook a hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The less you spend on eating out, the more you will save.
Whether you want to save a lot or save a little, these ten tips will get you started. Do not worry about doing them all at once. Pick one or two to start and then keep adding. You will save yourself a bundle in no time.
Image Credit: Studioroman