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5 Tips for Working From Home on a Budget

I have been self-employed and working from home for more than 5 years now. One of the primary benefits of doing so is that I can keep down costs and therefore keep down prices that I charge my customers allowing me to be very competitive in the market place.

In fact, now that I think about it I have become quite obsessed about keeping down costs. So I thought I would share with you a few tips I have learned along the way.

As I am a web designer by profession, my tips are mainly dealing with technological solutions.

1. Don't Use Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is an amazing piece of software. So amazing in fact that 99% of people who use it only use a tiny fraction of its capabilities. So spending several hundred pounds (the cost of the professional edition) seems to me to be an unnecessary expense. I personally use Open Office (which is completely free) and I have not once found it to be a problem. I can create spreadsheets, databases and presentations. I can also open up Microsoft Office files that people send to me.

2. Use Other Open Source Software

The Open Office comment above really goes in here but I thought it was so important it deserved a mention on its own. The next time you look for software to do a specific task for your business I would recommend that you first take a look around the Sourceforge site. It is full to the rafters with all sorts of excellent business software and it is all completely free!

3. Tell the tax man you work from home

You can get tax relief on a percentage of your household expenses to reflect your use of your home for business purposes. I won't go into detail here as I am not an accoutant so I recommend you get some professional advice first. But whatever you do, don't pay more tax than you have to!

4. Buy a Scanner

Some documents like receipts for expenses you will need to keep originals. However, for everything else, don't buy a filing cabinet that takes up space as well as costing you money. Scan everything into your PC. My scanner automatically creates PDF documents from the scans which are very easily filed on my hard drive to refer to later if required. Similarly:

5. Don't Print Everything

Among the excellent open source software available, I use something called PDF Creator. Each time I need to print a receipt from the web or an email to keep, I print it to PDF Creator which creates a file on your PC saving you on ink and paper (and goes a small way to saving the planet). It's so easy to use as it just shows up as a virtual printer on your PC.

Fri 1 April 2011 15:45:17

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