One of the best things you can do for yourself when you work at home is set up a home office. Having a place set aside where you can work is a huge help, as well as a must for many work at home jobs. These budget home office ideas can help you set up a functional home office without spending a fortune.
Pick The Right Spot
Choosing the right location matters for your home office. While some people can make do with working at the kitchen table, others need a room with a door. It all depends on the demands of your work and how many distractions you can handle.
You don’t want to be in the same room as the television, for example, if it’s going to be on. That’s a huge distraction and will make you less productive.
There are times when you want your kids with you when you’re working if you don’t need quiet. That’s why I had a play space in my office when my kids were little. It was less distracting to have them there than to have to get up to see what they were doing. Now that they’re older, I don’t want them in my office unless they need me.
Your space does not have to be large. If my house didn’t have a room available for my home office (which is also a guest room), I probably would set up at the little built in table that we use for the mail. It’s not a big space, but my work doesn’t take much. It’s a little out of the way in the house, which is always a help when you need to focus.
Plus, I wouldn’t need a desk then.
If you don’t have a spare room to turn into a home office, it’s perfectly fine to set up in the bedroom if you need a closed door to work. Don’t feel that your home office space must be dedicated unless that’s a requirement of your work. Rooms can have more than one use.
Figure Out What You Need To Buy
Odds are that you already have some of the things you need to set up your home office. If you have a work at home job rather than a home business, some employers may provide equipment as well.
The less you have to buy for your home office, the better when it comes to budget.
There are a few things you really should have when you work at home. Some you can skip, others are a must no matter how tight your home office budget is.
Budget Home Office Must-Haves
Is your current computer good enough for your work at home job or home business, or do you need a better one? Is it shared with the rest of the family, or is it yours alone?
It’s not at all uncommon for a family to need multiple computers these days. If your kids are in school, the odds are good that sometimes they need a computer for homework. You don’t want their needs and yours to clash. Having a dedicated home office computer is a big help.
An ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse are also good to have. These can take a little getting used to, but may save you from carpal tunnel or other problems later.
Think about whether you need a desktop or laptop computer. I love my laptop because I can go anywhere with it, but desktop computers have their advantages too. They’re often cheaper, and while you have to buy a monitor to go with it, you don’t have to replace the whole thing if the monitor goes out.
A good desk can be a big help for working at home productively. You don’t have to get a fancy sit-stand desk (although they are wonderful!), but you should have someplace to put your computer and other supplies.
If you can’t afford anything else, even a folding table can function as an office desk. It’s not about looks, after all. It’s about getting the job done within your budget.
While you can use a kitchen chair if you must in your home office, try to find a way to get an ergonomic desk chair. Your body will thank you in the long run.
There are very few jobs that you can do from home without internet access. Even daycare providers may need it to email parents or update their websites or social media.
Make sure you consider whether you need wired internet or if WiFi is okay. Some work at home jobs require a wired connection to your router for security reasons. Such jobs also will not allow satellite internet.
Budget Home Office Maybes
Other office supplies will be needed by some people, but not by others. Think about what’s really necessary before buying these items.
- Printer ink supply
- Dual monitors
- Sound cancelling headset
- Chair mat
- Surge protector
- Phone (cell, landline or VOIP?)
- Filing cabinet
- Reference books
- Pens, pencils, paper
- Whiteboard and dry erase markers
- Water bottle
- Neutral background for video conferencing
- Office decor
- Calendar or planner.
You’ll also need appropriate software. Some solutions are free, while other things you will need to buy.
- Skype (may already be installed on your computer)
- Office software (I use Google Drive)
- Graphic design software (I use Gimp)
- Dropbox or other file sharing
- Any software required by your employer or to run your business.
Find Cheaper Ways To Buy What You Need
You don’t have to buy everything new for your home office. Some items are just fine to buy used.
I bought my office chair at a garage sale for $5, for example. I hit it really lucky, as it’s a good, ergonomic chair, and the most comfortable of all our office chairs. You don’t find a deal like that very often.
We also bought my husband’s office chair for cheap, just recently. The city was selling off their excess office furniture, and I found his chair for $30. It’s much more comfortable than the chair it replaced, and still much cheaper than a new one would have been.
Garage sales can be wonderful for finding used furniture. Thrift stores are also a good option. ReStore from Habitat For Humanity can be great for furniture. Be picky about comfort, as you’ll be spending a lot of time with your home office furniture. You may not be as lucky as I was with my office chair, but there are plenty of good finds out there.
If you’re going for new, outlet stores may be an option as well. Online, you can see what’s available from Amazon Outlet.
There are some things you should only go so cheap on, of course. Your computer should be good enough to handle what you demand of it. Your office chair should be ergonomic, to help you sit properly and minimize repetitive motion injuries.
Other things, you can absolutely go cheap on. Some dollar stores have a good range of home decor, which can make your office look nicer without spending a fortune. Some of their other office supplies are also good.
The back to school season is a great time to get paper, pencils, pens, and notebooks. They’re often on sale around that time. Pay attention to the sales, and stock up if you can when things are on a really good sale.
Do You Need It All At Once?
If the things you need for your home office don’t all fit into your budget at once, think about which purchases you can delay. Some items are good to have in the long run, but you can get away without them for a time.
A newer computer, for example. Possibly your current computer is just barely good enough, and that’s sufficient until you can afford a better one. Maybe you use a kitchen chair until you can fit an office chair into your budget. You do what you can.
Don’t delay on things which are necessary for you to start earning money. If you have a work at home job and your employer says you must have a certain thing, have that thing!