Back in 2016, I made a leap of faith and decided to leave my job to work from home. My ultimate goal was to be a full-time writer. At first, I sold clothes and antiques on eBay and Etsy while I occasionally got paid for an article or two. Now, I am happy to say that in 2019, I have achieved a full-time living with 100% of my income coming from writing.
Through trial and error, I purchased things I thought I needed, but were actually a waste of money. Over the past three years, I figured out the bare essentials of what’s truly necessary, so you don’t have to.
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10. Intuit Quickbooks Self-Employed
One of the most intimidating parts about leaving a job and going on your own is figuring out how to pay your taxes. All my life, I had a boss who withdrew taxes from my paychecks for me, and I just needed to wait for my W-2 to come in the mail at the beginning of each year. Once I became self-employed, Intuit Quickbooks Self-Employed was a life saver. I have been using this for the past three years, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it. (Probably hire an accountant.)
The program syncs directly with my PayPal and bank accounts, so it knows exactly how much money I am earning and spending. At the end of each month, I go through my purchases and mark them as either “business” or “personal”. It also allows you to input the miles you spend driving to meetings. If you’re interested in trying Intuit Quickbooks Self-Employed, you can get it for 50% off by using our link.
9. A Laptop Stand
If you are working from home, chances are that you will need to meet with clients via Google Hangouts or Skype. For years, I would stack my laptop up on piles of textbooks so that I could get the camera at eye-level when I have a conversation with someone. (No one looks good with an angle going chin-up.)
Then, I discovered that I could buy a laptop stand. This is one of those items that made me feel like, “Where have you been all my life?!” It is also great for having a second screen at eye-level, instead of looking up and down between my iMac and my Macbook Air. (Now that I have a rose gold Macbook, I need an upgrade for my stand, right?)
8. Kabbage Working Capital Loans
Back when I had my eBay store, I was quickly running out of space in my home. I knew that if I wanted to expand the business, I needed to get a studio to house my inventory and photography equipment. The only tricky thing was that traditional banks don’t always understand the art of making money online. I felt so nervous to apply for a business loan at a bank, I avoided it at all cost, for fear of rejection.
Then, I found Kabbage Working Capital loans. They sync directly with your online sales through PayPal and Google Adsense, so they know exactly how much money you are actually making. Once I applied, I was shocked at how much I was actually approved for. Unlike a loan or credit card, Kabbage gives you one flat fee, and they expect you to pay it back within 6 months. Recently, I used it to upgrade my laptop, but I paid it back within one month. If you pay your loan back early, you can avoid paying the total fee. This actually saves me a lot of money in interest compared to a credit card. So it is still my go-to-funding for big business purchases. Use this link if you want to apply for a loan.
7. Walmart Grocery Pickup
I know what you’re thinking: WHAT!? Groceries has nothing to do with working from home! Oh…But it does. When you work full-time, the only option for you to get groceries was probably on the weekend. This is when it gets the most crowded, and the crowds may add an extra hour to your trip. When I first started working from home, I made the excuse that I had all the time in the world to go shopping any day of the week. This “I can do whatever I want” mindset is actually really bad for productivity.
If you want your business to succeed, you need to learn how to use your time efficiently even more so than you did with a normal job. I actually did a full review of Walmart Grocery Pickup, but the general idea is that you can order your groceries online, and schedule a time to pick them up. Employees go around the store and retrieve your items for you, and all you have to do is show up to get your groceries. On average, I save an hour of time every time I use this service. The best part? It’s free. Sign up with this link, and you can get started using the service right away.
6. A Desk With Plenty of Leg Room
Before I started working from home, I used an adorable writing desk from the 1950’s. It was very retro-looking, but you could only insert your legs into a 2-foot space. This might be okay for an hour or two, but when it’s your entire day, it quickly became uncomfortable. Now, I use a large square table that was once a retail display piece, so you can’t exactly replicate what I’ve done. But the Alex desk at Ikea is only $150, and it has loads of leg room, plus to drawers. You can also find affordable standing desks on Amazon.
4. A Comfortable Office Chair
There are some people out there who swear by their ergonomic office chairs that cost $1,000. Others will go out of their way to get $399 gaming chairs from places like Staples. Sure, having a comfortable place to sit is extremely important, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I have the “Millberget” chair from Ikea, which was $69.99. It is decently comfortable, and has lasted me for the past two years.
3. A Credit Card That Accrues Airline Miles
Whether you plan to travel for business, or you just want to get away on vacation, you should really consider a credit card that accrues miles. If you plan to make some big purchases for your business anyway, it’s the perfect time to rack of those sign-up bonuses.
My first airline miles credit card was the American Express Delta SkyMiles Card. If you sign up using this link, you can get 50,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. That’s like getting the equivalent of a free round-trip flight to Europe. And if you were prepared to pay for your items with the cash anyway, you can simply pay it all off in one full swoop, and pocket the reward.
2. A Breakfast in Bed Tray
A year ago, I broke my ankle, and I wasn’t allowed to walk for a month straight. I did not want to fall behind on work, so I immediately went on Amazon to get a tray for me to do my work in bed. Long after healing, I still use this tray to get work done in bed. Sometimes, you just need to relax in bed. Now, I really only use it when I feel ill, but the fact that I have it at all makes a world of difference.
1. Upgrade to New Technology
In the first year or two of running my business, I was using a very old PC tower to write and use Photoshop. Then, I got myself an “upgrade” of a used Macbook Air from 2011, so that I could travel. Keep in mind that I started working in 2016, so I was always getting used computers that were at least 5 years old. I also (still) have used smart phones that are 5 years old, too.
While this saved me money, it was actually holding me back from being able to do job at my maximum potential. Google Chrome wasn’t allowing me to access certain websites. Programs stopped working. It also caused me to have to jump through embarrassing hoops just to have a phone or video call with people I was trying to work with.
Keep in mind that most real professionals never let this happen. They have the most up-to-date technology, because they need everything to run efficiently. Recently, I treated myself to a rose gold Macbook Air, and I have zero regrets.
With that being said, don’t get yourself into debt if you cannot afford it right now. Just do your best to make money with what you already have, but upgrade as soon as possible.
Shannon Quinn is the editor-in-chief of InspiringHome.org. She has written for multiple personal finance publications such as MoneyWise, Yahoo Finance, and The Penny Hoarder. She has also written for several YouTube channels; Biographics, Geographics, and TopTenz. You can find her full portfolio at ShannQuinn.com.