Hey everyone! I am excited to introduce you to Lisa from Freelance Mom. Today, she is going to share her frugal tips for first-time work at home moms.
So you’re ready to ditch the 9-5 and become a full-time work-at-home mom. Congratulations! Working from home can be incredibly rewarding and convenient, allowing you to cash in those paychecks while affording you the flexibility of staying home with your kids.
But as amazing as it sounds, the reality is that getting started as a work-at-home mom comes with expenses, including things like office equipment and, if you’re freelancing, even additional taxes. Here are four ways you can save when launching your work-at-home career.
1. Create Your Own Home Office
I know what you’re thinking. Building a home office is going to take some investment, so how does it save you cash? It allows you to claim the home office deduction on your taxes, which can save you hundreds of dollars every year.
Here’s the catch, though. The IRS requires that this area be used exclusively for your business and that it be your principal place of business. That means that if your home office space doubles as the family computer room (and your family uses your business computer for leisure), you can’t claim the deduction.
But if you do have that exclusive office space (either as its own room or as a designated section of another room), you can deduct a portion of your home expenses, such as utilities, mortgage or rent, and insurance. Your deductions depend on the square footage of your office compared to the square footage of your home. Otherwise, you can take the simplified option in which you get a $5 deduction for every square foot (up to 300 feet). So if your office is 150 square feet, you’ll get a $750 deduction on your taxes!
Also be sure to save receipts for any business expenses so you can deduct those, too!
2. Get Smart with Your Office Supplies
If you’re going to be working a desk job, such as writing, virtual assisting, marketing, or web design, you’re probably going to rack up a good office supplies bill. However, there are several ways to save:
- Buy during the right season: September is a great time to buy office supplies since you can snag deals in the back-to-school section when retailers are trying to get rid of their inventory. However, buy your new computer in August when back-to-school shopping for college students is at its peak and retailer competition for laptops is fierce. Time.com reports that during this time, you can often snag discounts of $100 or more.
- Buy in bulk: If you go through a lot of one product, such as envelopes and shipping boxes for mailing out goods, you can save per-unit and on shipping costs by buying in bulk.
- Join rewards programs: If you know you’re going to spend a lot on office supplies, grab a free membership to an office supply store. The Office Depot and Office Max rewards card, for instance, offers 10 percent back in rewards on purchases like ink and paper, and you’ll also earn rewards for recycling your ink cartridges.
3. Build Up Your Workspace with Free Supplies
“Free” doesn’t always mean low quality, but it does mean big savings! When building your home office, you might find a free desk or office chair on Craigslist, for example.
But the freebies don’t end there. Instead of paying big bucks for computer software, there are a myriad of free programs with similar capabilities. For instance, instead of paying for an anti-virus program, opt for the free and trusted Avast anti-virus software.
Another money-saving option is Google Drive, which will give you access to word processing, spreadsheet, and slideshow programs for free.
Plus, instead of setting up a new phone line for your business, you can opt for a new number with Google Voice. With this program, you can set up a professional number and link it to your existing phone so you don’t have to give out your personal phone number, buy a new business phone, or pay for extra services.
4. Barter for Business
If you’re going the freelancing route, then you’ll likely work with a variety of people to get your business off the ground, such as a printing company for business cards and a web designer for your new site.
Instead of making a huge financial investment, consider working with people who will help you out in exchange for your services. For example, if you’re getting into freelance writing and need a website, you might ask a web design friend to help you build yours. In exchange, you could help write some of his marketing, website, or blog copy. This is also a great networking tactic to bring in new clients!
Ready to jump into the work-at-home mom lifestyle? Let us know how you’ll save money during the transition.
Lisa Stein owns FreelanceMom.com, is a college business professor and a mom to two growing daughters. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. Grab Your FreelanceMom.com’s Free Course – “10 SURPRISINGLY SIMPLE Step-by-Step Tasks To GET MORE CLIENTS.”