Tight Budget? 12 Money-Saving Tips for Your Home Office

When you run your own home-based business, you need to make every penny count. Few freelancers or home-based businesses have unlimited funds to work with, and every extra dollar you spend on office supplies is one less dollar you have to devote to marketing and client service.

The good news is there are things you can do to reduce your home-office costs and keep your business humming. Here are tips you can start using right now.

1. Ditch your inkjet printer for a laser. You will reduce your ink costs substantially and get a better printout.

2. If you must use an inkjet printer, look for one with cartridges you can refill. Refilling your own ink cartridges can cut your ink costs in half.

3. Set the default print setting to draft. Printing in draft uses less in or toner and saves you money. You can easily reset the printer to another setting when printing documents for a client.

4. Print in black and white whenever possible. Black-and-white printing is less costly, and most business documents do not need to be printed in color. You can save even more by not printing documents whenever possible.

5. Reuse your scrap paper. Set up a bin for scrap paper and save one-sided printouts, junk mail, billing envelopes and anything else you can reuse. You will save money, reduce your trash bill and help the environment.

6. Keep a shopping list for office supplies. Not planning ahead can cost you a lot of money. Maintaining a list and shopping the sales makes it easier to save.

7. Watch the sales. Sign up for weekly circulars for local office supply stores and stock up when paper, pens and other office essentials go on sale.

8. Buy used whenever you can. Look for old letter bins, office chairs and other supplies at yard sales, thrift shops and auctions. You will save a lot of money — funds you can put right back in your business.

9. Consider a refurbished computer. You can save up to 50% by buying a refurbished or off-lease computer. The technology may be a few years old, but the computer has been restored to its original factory condition.

10. Look for free software. You don’t have to spend a fortune to outfit your budget computer. There are free versions of virtually every type of software, from anti-virus and anti-spyware programs to full-fledged office suites. Be sure to read the terms and conditions and make sure the free versions are licensed for business use.

11. Outfit your office with LED lights. Replacing old incandescent or compact florescent bulbs with energy-saving LED versions can trim your electric bill and help your home-based business save money. Also, look for other opportunities to optimize your home office for full energy efficiency.

12. Look for free advertising and publicity for your business. Advertise your business on social media, start a free blog and beef up your web presence. Contact local radio and TV personalities and suggest they do a story on your business. There are plenty of ways to get the word out for free or at a low cost.

Running your own business can be liberating. When you run the show, you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself and your customers. At the same time, you are responsible for all aspects of running the business, from making payroll to buying office supplies. Building money-saving habits into your home-based business is a great way to trim the overhead costs and give yourself more money to invest in your dreams.