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Ever heard the phrase “Spend less than you earn?” Personally, I like to take it a notch higher and spend much, much less than I earn. I can’t help it. I think I’m frugal by nature and that contributes a lot to my feeling of security with online work.
Frugality and web working go hand in hand, especially in a tough economy. Even if you find your business thriving, the cost of commodities tends to go up and some clients might unexpectedly close up shop. I also find that frugality comes with freedom — any extra money I can set aside goes to fund new opportunities or allows me to take some time off.
So whether the economy is struggling or thriving, it’s still a good idea to keep your expenses as low as possible, without sacrificing the quality of your work or your life. Here are some things you can do to keep the cost of web working as low as possible:
Tap your network to get deals and advice. Have many friends and contacts on social networks? Great! Ask them for advice whenever you’re looking to purchase a new item for your office or computer. Sometimes, you might be lucky enough to get some coupons or freebies.
Take advantage of garage sales and second-hand stores. Rather than buying new items from the store, it often makes sense to buy second-hand furniture.
Watch your electricity and phone bills. Nothing gives me a headache like an unexpected spike in my bills. Because of this, I tend to be mindful of overconsumption. Here are some ways to keep bills low:
- If you’re using a laptop, be mindful of when it’s completely charged, then unplug it from the socket.
- When an electrical gadget is broken and can’t be fixed, find energy-efficient replacements.
- Use VoIP rather than a landline for international calls.
- For home offices with closets and cabinets, be sure to keep them closed to lessen the area that needs cooling/heating.
Get your office space as a tax deduction. Talk to an accountant to see the possibility of making your home office tax deductible. If you live in the U.S., you can visit this page from the IRS for more information.
Upgrade rather than replace old equipment. Instead of buying a new computer why not find cheaper ways to boost its performance? Sometimes, just purchasing additional memory can make an old computer work as smoothly as a brand new one.
Have a work-related emergency fund. Why is this frugal? Well, having cash ready means that you won’t have to get into credit card debt for emergency work expenses. I often save 2 percent of my income for work-related emergencies like replacing irreparable computer components. That may seem like a small amount, but it adds up to quite a lot over a few months.
Use your computer as your entertainment system. The only reason why my house has cable TV subscription — and the only reason why we have a TV at all — is my housemates. They aren’t very computer-savvy. If I lived alone, I’d do away with both the TV and the cable subscription. I can easily replace it with something like Hulu or iTunes. Most of the downloads from iTunes are paid, so you might be wondering what makes it frugal. For me, ordering entertainment “à la carte” can often be cheaper, especially since I’ll be careful about where both my time and my money go.
Since needs and experiences vary from person to person, I suggest that you take the advice you can use and forget the rest. After all, there’s no such thing as the right way to save money — there’s only what’s right for you.
Do you think you’re frugal? How do you keep your work expenses low?