Getting Equipment on a Freelancer’s Budget
There isn’t exactly a checklist of equipment you must have as a freelancer: for some freelancers, an old computer is more than adequate as long you’ve got chairs and a table where you can meet with clients. For other freelancers, a laptop loaded with the latest software is crucial, but everything else in the office is negotiable. No matter what end of the spectrum you’re on, though, there are some ways to make getting equipment and furniture a little easier on a freelancer’s budget.
Most of the freelancers I know start out with whatever desk or table they’ve been considering their home office already. But when you’re spending hours a day in front of the computer, you can rapidly realize the importance of things like a good office chair and a desk at the right height. But if you’ve ever looked at office furniture, you know how expensive the good stuff is. There are a few alternatives to buying it new, however, that can allow someone with a freelancer’s checkbook to wind up with a desk or a chair originally made with a corporation’s checkbook in mind. Furniture liquidators, consignment shops and even sales by big offices themselves can make picking up furniture much easier.
Freelancers tend to luck out when it comes to office equipment. Few of us need big copy machines or other pieces of equipment that can cost as much as a car. However, there are a few that, depending on your particular brand of freelancing, can be necessary — or at least nice. Fax machines, printers, telephones and such can be necessary to handle your work. There are a variety of ways to cut costs for each — using an online fax service, for instance — but there’s also a convenience that can go along with having them. For instance, you might be able to use your local co-working group’s printer for some things, but if you don’t work there all the time, it’s generally more practical to have your own printer at home.
Computer Hardware and Software
It can be harder to find high quality computer equipment, if only because a computer becomes obsolete a lot faster than a desk chair. But if you can budget ahead of time for how soon you’ll be needing an upgrade, computer expenses can be a lot easier to handle. Because most of us find it necessary to upgrade at least part of our computer equipment every few years, one of the most practical options can be setting aside a small amount of money every month, so that when upgrade time rolls around, you’ve got the funds for both new hardware and new software — without having to use a payment plan.
Setting the Budget
It’s easy to get caught up with the cool tools that you can pick up to make freelancing easier. It doesn’t hurt that new office furniture, computer upgrades and even a fax line can all be deducted on your taxes. But it’s important to make sure that your business can easily support these expenditures. It may not be as much fun to set a budget for such expenses, but that budget can make sure that in a leaner month you still have plenty of money for other expenses.