How to keep the cost of working from home down

My office at homeMy husband and I both work from home. He has a home office in what used to be the dining room, a small room at the front of the house downstairs, and my office is on the first floor in what used to be the third and smallest bedroom.

It works out perfectly, especially since we’ve figured out ways to keep the cost of home-working to the bone. Here’s how we do it.

Working at home on the cheap

1. Premises

My office equipment consists of a desk, PC and chair. That’s it. The same goes for my husband. As such, working at home is the cheapest, simplest and most enjoyable option. There’s no need for us to hire office space, so we save on the cost of renting premises and we don’t spend a thing on commuting.

2. Heating

If we both worked away from home we’d turn the heating off while we were out. As it is, because we both sit at computers all day, we need warmth, especially now it’s getting chilly outside. So we’ve turned up the radiators in the rooms we work in and turned them right down in the rest of the house, and we keep our office doors closed to keep the heat in.

The spare bedroom and our bedroom stay unheated all year round, and we keep the doors shut so the rest of the house retains its warmth. The radiators in the living room are turned up because we spend time lounging around in there during the evenings. And the kitchen and dining room extension radiators are at mid-heat just to keep the worst of the chill off.

On the plus side, as self employed people we can claim a percentage of our home heating bills against tax.

3. Clothing

I don’t feel the cold. My husband does. But we’ve both got into the habit of adding more layers instead of cranking the heating up.

4. The car

My husband used to drive 20 miles each way every day to work. Now he works at home, we barely ever use the car. I don’t drive anyway – I was always too ‘green’ to want to learn. We tend to get the bus into town, to friends’ houses and to meetings. If we need to go to London, we get the train because driving there is a mad thing to do, with all the parking fees, congestion charges and general horribleness it involves.

I suspect it won’t be long before we get rid of the car completely, since we barely ever use it. If you tot up the cost of the fuel, insurance, repayments, servicing, MOT and repairs and compare it with how infrequently we use it, I bet the cost per car journey is absolutely astronomical. Personally, I’d be delighted not to have a car!

5. Smart clothes

I haven’t been employed in a ‘proper’ job for seven years. I used to have to buy smart clothes for my senior marketing position, but these days I don’t bother. For one, people just don’t get suited and booted for work any more, or certainly not in the sectors we work in. Second, we rarely meet customers face to face. Mine are spread right across the world and we mostly communicate via email. I dress smart casual for my working day, not a suit in sight. It has saved me an awful lot of money.

6. Lunch

We used to spend around four to five quid each a day on lunch, just something basic like Greggs butties, a chocolate bar and a drink. That’s £50 a week, £200 a month, £2,400 a year. Madness. Now we take a brisk walk to our local Co-Op, a two mile round journey, and buy a  tin of soup each for lunch, about £1.40 a day in total. The walk gets us out of the house, gives us a break and keeps us fit. And it has cut our lunch bill dramatically.

7. Paper-free office

When I was employed I used to print everything. The minute I started self-employment I decided to stop. I never bought a printer and have operated a completely paper-free office for the last seven years, which has saved me a small fortune. I have honestly never missed having a printer.

8. Stationery

I don’t use business cards or complement slips and being paper-free, I don’t need headed paper. I invoice electronically and do all my communicating by email. And because I don’t print things, I barely ever send anything in the post. More or less everything I do is electronic.

9. Landline

I avoid using the phone for work. I just can’t think, speak, listen and make notes at the same time. It’s impossible. My customers brief me in writing instead, by email. So my business phone bills are more or less non-existent.

What’s your best homeworking money-saving tip?

We’d love to know how you cut the cost of working at home.