Whether you are telecommuting for the boss or running your own small business, you need a well-appointed home office to keep you productive and surround you in comfort while you work.
A great home office can mean the difference between a productive day and a frustrating one, and you do not have to break the bank to create a workspace worthy of your many talents.
Creating an efficient and productive home office is more affordable than you might think. With the proper planning and some smart shopping, you can set up your home office for less.
Here are 10 tips to get you started.
1. Buy in bulk. Whether it is groceries or office supplies, buying in bulk is a great way to save money. You might not use that giant box of paper clips in the next two months, but buying them in bulk now means you will not have to shell out more money later.
2. Seek out furniture that does double duty. There is no reason your office bookcase cannot also hold your DVD collection, so make your furniture do double duty. The fewer pieces you have to buy, the more money you will save.
3. Keep a list of needed supplies. Until you know exactly what you need, it will be impossible to shop around for the best price. Make a mental list of the supplies you are running low on, then use those mental notes to create a comprehensive shopping list.
“An accurate inventory serves a two-fold purpose: it helps ensure your business does not run out of necessary office supplies, and it allows you to properly account for office supply purchases as assets or liabilities under an accrual system of accounting,” says Ashley Adams-Mott.
4. Refill your own ink and toner cartridges. Inkjet refills and replacement laser toner cartridges can really take a toll on your budget, but doing your own refills can save you a lot of money. Look for printers whose cartridges are easily refilled – it will save you a ton of money in the long run.
5. Keep a pile of scrap paper around. You can reuse scrap paper in your printer, jot notes on it and otherwise reuse it. The more scrap paper you reuse, the less new paper you will need to buy.
6. Use double-sided printing whenever you can. Speaking of wasting paper, printing on just one side can be very wasteful. Use the double-sided feature on your printer to double the capacity of your paper supply and make your dollars stretch twice as far.
“I have reports and proposals I sometimes send out to clients,” says Sarah over at The Toddle. “You’d be surprised how much I save simply by double-side printing everything that comes out of my home office.”
7. Shop the sales. Whether you are shopping online or off, watching the sales could save you a lot of money. Check out the sales at the local office supply store, sign up for money saving alerts and seek out other creative ways to save money on the supplies you need.
8. Buy used furniture for your home office. It does not matter if that desk is new or used; what matters is its quality construction. Check out thrift stores, online classifieds and other sources of quality used furniture – a little shopping around could save you a bundle.
9. Print in black and white. Even if you are printing a full-color website or document, choosing the black and white setting can conserve your ink and save you money. Save the full-color printing for business-critical communications and use black and white for everything else.
If you can, consider getting a monochrome printer that only prints in black.
“While laser printers tend to cost more to buy at first, they’re often cheaper to operate because monochrome toner is so inexpensive,” says Ben Keough at The Wirecutter.
10. Find free alternatives to pricey software. From office productivity suites and word processing programs to antivirus protection and photo editing software, there are free versions of many high-priced packages. Just make sure the free software is available for business use, and check the reviews to make sure each package will serve your needs.
You do not have to spend a fortune to get your home office up and running. If you know how to shop and what to look for, you can outfit your home office for less, so you can spend more money building your business.