Work from Home, Save Money

Working from home represents a different lifestyle than a corporate job. Not only do you have more flexibility in your work schedule, you’ll have more time to devote to productive work, and waste less on commuting, and office politics. But, thanks to your home office set up, there are other easy ways to save money, and maximize the value of your time as a stay at home working mom. Here are four money-saving changes you can start today.  
 




Be strategic.  Weigh the value of everything you do, and how it compares to what you’re paying others to handle. For example, you may pay a sitter $15 an hour to come to your house and watch the kids while you work from home. If you command $50 an hour yourself, the cost is justified. But, there may be ways to save even more, perhaps by shifting schedules so that you’re working more when the kids are sleeping, and having the sitter come only during times when they’re awake, and active. Likewise, you may pay a housekeeper $60 a week to clean while you work, but, if you’re ultimately generating less revenue than you’re paying, do it yourself.
 
Check in with insurance. What you pay for car insurance varies by state, but most consider the miles you drive, and for what purpose, as a key determinant of rates and risk. Call your auto insurance provider to report the miles you’ve reduced due to the fact that you’re no longer commuting. One quick call can shave up to $200 a year from your rates, according to Jake Stewart, a State Farm agent in San Francisco.
 
Track expenses.  The internal revenue service (IRS) allows tax breaks for working from home; take advantage of them! For example, reporting the space in your home that is devoted solely to business, and the expenses that associated with it, can lower your taxable income. Cell phone and technology expenses that are dedicated to business qualify, too. Any business-related mileage you incur, like trips to the post office, or lunch with a business associate (even a friend you do business with), qualifies for the current .55 cents a mile deduction, and you can write off the cost of the business activity itself. Keep a mileage log in your car, and make sure you save all your receipts when it comes time for taxes.
 
Be virtual. With the low cost of smartphones and the bevy of free apps that come with them, there is virtually no need to spend money on office support equipment, like fax machines, a landline, or even a scanner. (A printer, however, will still serve you well). Strive to be as paperless as possible and eliminate the expense and hassle of unnecessary hard copies, ink cartridges, and storage.

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Stephanie Taylor Christensen is a former financial services marketer turned stay at home working mom, yoga instructor and freelance writer covering personal finance, small business,consumer issues, work-life balance and health/wellness topics for ForbesWoman , Minyanville , SheKnows , Mint , Intuit Small Business, Investopedia and several other online properties. She is also the founder of Wellness On Less and Om for Mom prenatal yoga.

Stephanie wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie May.com (http://www.DebbieMay.com), an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.