How I Setup My Home Office on a Shoestring Budget


Contributor Post

Some time back around 2010 I decided that I had enough with working the 9-to-5. I put in my two weeks’ notice and sure enough after those days were over I was out on my own. The very same day I came back from my final day at work, I began building my business. I needed to be professional. I needed to setup a home office. Of course … it was limited to a shoestring budget as I was now unemployed and needed to stash some money for those first few months where I was getting started. This is what I did.

Finding a (Quiet) Place

The choice of where I was to work really came down to a few selections:

  • The dining room table
  • In the master bedroom
  • Cleaning out and setting up in a closet-type area

Since my work is done online, I opted for the area that was essentially designated to be a small closet-type area roughly 6ft by 6ft in dimension. For you it might be different.

  • Do you have a spare bedroom?
  • Could you potentially setup a laptop and work on the patio?
  • Would it kill you to shift around your bedroom to make space for your desk?

The place you decide upon shouldn’t matter so much in terms of size just, what matters more is that it is quiet and you’re not constantly interrupted – that’s the key. In time you’ll get adjusted to your area even if it’s small (like mine).

Setting up the Room

What goes into your home office? Probably much of the same things you have/had at your day job, so replicating the space will probably be your first choice. The office furniture you can find online (at a much steeper discount) will generally be:

  • Computer desk
  • A comfortable chair (this is a big one!)
  • Filing cabinets
  • Printer/Fax/Scanner
  • A whiteboard for ideas
  • Calendar & clock

Since this is your home office I’d suggest you set it up how you would want it. Remember that you’re no longer required to have it setup in a particular fashion (due to corporate policies). Make your office comfortable, quirky, and inspiring. Let it evolve over time and see what works for you. For me I went with a simple foldable desk that’s easy to move. My biggest expense was the computer chair since I’d be siting a good amount of the day. My back thanks me, constantly. All of it came out to be less than about $300.

Using the Right Software The business you start may vary drastically from others but there are a lot of basic programs, software, and apps that you’re likely to use every day, such as:

  • Email
  • Invoicing
  • Word processing
  • Bookeeping
  • Time management and tracking

All of these basic ones are freely provided by services like Google Drive or Open Office. Choosing free or open source software providers can cut the cost of your startup basics to practically zero. For other important programs you may have to spend a bit of cash, but remember you can often find free and open source alternatives for just about anything you need. The biggest benefit of the home office is that you get to setup and use software you want to use (and feel comfortable with). You’re not longer restricted to the programs and systems (often clunky) that you had to use at work which means you’re likely to work very proficiently since you’re comfortable and well-versed with the programs. Personally, I went the full SaaS route and either use free, online services or subscribe to a few (no more than $10 a month) to get the job done. This puts my day-to-day operational expenses (in terms of software) to mere pennies on the dollar.

Launch Time Once everything was setup, in my new office, I was finally in the right mindset to really get down to business. I had carved out my own little space to do wondrous work. It actually quite amazed me how easy it was to set one up on such a budget. I believe you too can do the same. With the right space, equipment, and software anyone with the drive to work from home can do so professionally. So … what’s holding you back from making one of your own?

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

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