As a work at home mom, I’m on a tight budget. One of the reasons I decided to try freelance writing was the minimal overhead costs. However, I still try to watch what I spend. Here are some of the tricks I’ve learned to help make the most of my money.
1. Purchase equipment used whenever possible. Most writers need a computer for word processing, sending email, and using the Internet to research articles. These tasks don’t require a top-of-the-line machine. You’ll save a bundle by buying a used computer that’s a few years old.
2. Set your computer to print documents on the black and white, draft-quality setting. This simple trick has cut my printer ink costs in half. If you’re like me, most of what you print is merely research material. Save your expensive color ink for something that’s really important, such as printing photos of your family to decorate your workspace!
3. Consider purchasing store-brand printer ink for even greater savings. For example, I love using Staples brand black ink for my HP DeskJet printer. It’s about half the price of name brand cartridges and it works just as well.
4. Substitute plain copy paper for expensive printer paper. It’s a fraction of the cost and you won’t be able to tell the difference.
5. Don’t waste paper! Use the “Print Preview” command to make sure you’re printing the correct document. Use the back side of unwanted pages as scratch paper or download free coloring book templates for your children to enjoy.
6. Set your computer to the “Energy Star” power setting to save on your electric bill. Your computer will go to standby mode after 15 minutes of inactivity. Why pay to run your computer while you’re chasing an active toddler or breaking up fights between your older children?
7. Shop around for the best deals on pens, highlighters, file folders, and other miscellaneous office supplies. Around August, Wal-Mart and other discount retailers have fantastic sale prices in preparation for back-to-school shopping. Pick up extra items for yourself when you’re shopping for the kids. While generally not as much of a savings as the back-to-school sales, many retailers also offer discounts on office supplies during the tax season.
8. Don’t rush out to buy a fax machine. You’ll seldom need one, so it’s basically just a waste of money and space. Sending a document via fax will also run up your phone bill. In many cases, it’s a better alternative to scan the document and then email it. In a real emergency, most libraries will allow you to send a fax with their machine.
9. If you’re making a lot of phone calls to interview sources or communicate with clients, consider purchasing a rechargeable phone card from OneSuite.com . In addition to offering a low rate of just 2.5 cents per minute in the continental United States, OneSuite keeps track of all calls that you’ve made. Come tax time, you’ll just need to log onto their website to print a record of your business-related calls throughout the year. (Obviously, this tip doesn’t apply if you already have a separate business phone.)
10. When you’re starting out, don’t worry about the appearance of your home office. It’s great to have an attractive workspace, but it’s not a necessity unless you’re meeting clients in your home. Be frugal at first and reward yourself for completing large projects by upgrading your furnishings.