If your home office needs a major overhaul or you’re setting one up for the first time, figuring out how to pay for such a big project may seem daunting. You don’t want to make a big money mistake and throw a whopping sum on a credit card without a plan to pay it off. If you’re not sure what to do, here are some tips to kick start the process.

1. Decide what you need

If knowing where to start seems hard, come up with a list of basic items you’d like to have in your space. Having a place to sit, a tablet, laptop or other equipment necessary to get work done as well as very basic supplies like highlights, pens and paper can allow your business to operate smoothly. Make a list with pen and paper, type it up on the notes section of your phone or store all of the items on an app like Asana. This way you can have a clear picture of what is needed and remember what to get when the time comes. I like to store lists like this digitally when I know I will need to look at it time and time again while shopping in spurts. This way I won’t misplace the paper and I can reference it while I’m out. 

2. Research costs and decide what’s most essential

After generating your list, determine how much each item will cost you. If you see that it’s more than you’d like to spend, think of ways to reduce costs so you can get everything at once without spending more than you’d like. Maybe you continue to use an older desk so you can get a new tablet. Or maybe you purchase a folding table because a new printer is more of a priority. Once you see  what you need and how much it costs, it will be easier to make the decision of what to get first. 

If getting everything at once isn’t possible financially and you’d rather wait and get items bit by bit, you’ll still need a set spot to work in the meantime. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on anything fancy in the beginning. A folding table, furniture from IKEA or a well-made desk that you found at a thrift store, might be all you truly need when starting out. At least you’ll have a place to sit, spread out and finish your projects. Just be sure that it’s comfortable and conducive to working productively. You may even want to use Feng Shui to your advantage making choices about design.

3. Keeps sales on your radar.

Save where you can by shopping strategically. Purchase items like highlighters, folders, notebooks, index cards, tape, paper clips, etc. for less during back to school time when they are at drastically lower prices. Check local flyers that come in the mail or access weekly ads digitally on a site like Retale.com. Also check home office supply store websites like Staples.com or OfficeDepot.com where they post their weekly ads as well and daily deals. This way  you can be aware of when to purchase needed items. You can look through the latest promotions right from your phone. As we know, even small ticket items can add up quickly. Planning when to shop can make a big difference in how much you spend.

The Bottom Line

There are many costs associated with setting up a home office. To do so while staying on budget, devote the bulk of your money to essential items and prioritize what to get first. Also, shop when you know certain items tend to go on sale. Your highly functional home office will be put together before you know it  and you can continue to work effectively without skipping a beat.



Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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