Money-Saving Tips For Your Home Business

Money-saving tips for your home-business 

You might think that starting your own home-based business is a guaranteed money-maker…

After all, you’re keeping your costs low, you’re making smart decisions, and you’re disciplined about tracking your time.

But here’s the reality:

Income is often irregular which means cash-flow can be tight.

Sometimes we get too busy keeping the business afloat to realize we’re missing opportunities to correct the bottom line. So yes, small-business owners often struggle with their finances.

The good news?

We can do something about it.

Be it a full-time gig or a side hustle, here are a few tips to help cut business costs when working from home.

Save on software

If you believe every pop-up warning you a certain piece of software is about to expire – or needs to be upgraded – you could easily shell out thousands of dollars for software.

Related: 36 Canadian Computer And Electronics Stores You’ve Never Heard Of

But did you know that a lot of the programs you need are actually available for free?

1. Keep it in the cloud

Most people may think that they NEED to buy Microsoft Word and Excel, but there are free versions – available through any Gmail account – that are virtually identical.

You have unlimited access to:

  • Google Docs (“Word”),
  • Google Sheets (“Excel”), and
  • Google Slides (“PowerPoint”).

These free versions allow you to open, edit and save traditional .doc, .docx, .xls and .ptt files.

The best part is that all of your files are saved in your Google Drive, so you can access them anywhere – from any device – as long as you log into your Gmail account.

2. Back-up for free

If you’re paying for fancy backup software that runs nightly, you might not have to any longer.

If you have enough storage on your Google Drive, you can download a syncer that keeps your files safely in the cloud.

By keeping your work there, you can rest easy knowing it doesn’t matter if your home office computer crashes and loses all its files.

Related: How To Save Money On Internet Service

3. Invoice on the cheap

Certain cloud bookkeeping systems, like FreshBooks, offer free trials so you can see what it’s like to track your time, log your expenses, and create/send your invoices with them.

If you decide you like the services, FreshBooks offers a “Lite” account for $15/month that lets you have five active clients.

(Pssst! You can get around the five-client limit by deleting one-time clients and adding new ones as needed.)

Run a no-frills home-office

Even when you’re working from home, it’s hard not to want to buy EVERYTHING when you’re in an office-supply store…

Colour-coded folders, file boxes, fancy pens, highlighters, thick creamy stationery – it all seems so essential, right?


4. Streamline your systems

A computer might be one of your biggest expenses, but keep in mind that not everyone needs a top-of-the-line machine.

Related: Never Pay To Upgrade Your Computer’s Memory

Some things to consider:

  • Do you really need a desktop computer AND a laptop?
  • What about just having a laptop, and maybe purchasing a monitor to connect to when you’re in the home office?
  • If you’re content with working “in the cloud” and don’t need to run any special software, what about buying a Linux-powered Chromebook? You could have significant savings, compared to a traditional laptop. (Plus it’s lightweight for toting around.)

5. Reduce tech expenses

Do you really need that printer/scanner/fax combo?

Your first instinct is probably that you do, but think about it for a second. Not only do you have the cost of the machine, but you’ll also pay regularly for fresh ink or toner.

Scanning apps are free for smartphones and you’ll often get the same results. Faxing is almost obsolete, but online services like HelloFax let you send them – and receive them – on your computer.

As for the “printer” part of that monstrous machine?

If you really don’t print very often, it’s much cheaper to outsource the job to your local office supply store. Upload your files to Staples and you’ll get free shipping on orders over $45 (or you pick orders up the same day, in most cases) as well as special pricing.

Related: How To Save Money On Printer Ink And Toner

Consult the experts

When it comes to your business, you may want to do it all…

But even the savviest business-owner benefits from good advice – especially when it comes to saving money.

6. Consult with a tax accountant

Whether you’ve been self-employed for a while or you’re brand-new to the game, tax rules are always changing.

Sit down with a tax accountant to find out these basics:

They can also help you apply for a business number, if needed.

Likely you’ll have more questions, so keep in mind that many professionals offer their first hour free. Make sure you ask about it!

7. Organize your finances

If you haven’t met with a small business financial advisor recently, call and make an appointment.

Couple of things to consider:

  • Your business should have its own business account for payments and expenses.
  • It’s also a good idea to have a separate account where you put aside money for taxes – and HST, if you collect it.

Keeping your business’s finances on track means you’ll be far less likely to be crying at tax-time.

Related: 5 Ways Families Can Get a Tax Break

Your Turn

If you have a home-based side hustle or full-time gig, what are some of your tips to keep your expenses low?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The content here reflects the author's opinion alone, and is not endorsed or sponsored by a bank, credit card issuer, rewards program or other entity.

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Mrs. Picky Pincher's picture

Great ideas! I'm starting a job next week where I work remotely (but for a company, not myself). When I do freelancing, I keep it extremely simple and do my invoicing through PayPal. It's not ideal since it's not an accounting app, but it works for what I need to do. I've heard of people using a free accounting app called Wave, but it didn't work out for my uses.

May 02, 2017 @ 9:19 am
Heather Laura Clarke's picture

Good luck with the new job! I have a few clients that require me to invoice them through PayPal, and it's a great system, too.

May 02, 2017 @ 9:58 am
Robert G
Robert G's picture

We have a small tax business and give advice to many small home business.
Biggest issue when we meet them at the end of the year, when they do their first income tax for their business, they have no clue what expense thet can deduct or have false information .
Peoples should keep all purchase related in a file (receipt needed if you will be verifies by CRA), gas receipt, repair home expense, etc.
The best kept all expense under one credit card or separate bank account.

For printing, the best is to buy an all-in one Laser monochrome printer. You can get a Brother model for less than $250 (on line) and buy non OEM Ink. Example my Brother toner cartridge cost $89 and I but the non OEM for $18 . Also put your printer in eco mode, and make sure you install the PC app to deactivate the printer to stop when it reach the preset copies(on mine 2600) I was able to print over 4000 pages of very good quality , cost per pages is less than half a cent per page.

I disagree using Google Office product if you do a lot of spreadsheet, letter and others. Now a 1 year Microsoft Office is $100 and can be install on many machine and include a strong Email program Outlook . You can kept a real copy in your PC and have cloud copy as well(all included)..

May 02, 2017 @ 9:43 am
Heather Laura Clarke's picture

Great advice about taxes, Robert! As for Ofifce and Outlook, I find Google Docs and Gmail works better for me since I'm always switching between machines throughout the day. It's definitely a personal preference, though.

May 02, 2017 @ 10:00 am
Diane D
Diane D's picture

Have been a small business owner for more than 22 years. You have some awesome tips here. Absolutely purchase only what you need and watch for deals.

Using free cloud storage can be great if you don't have any client sensitive material. If you have client sensitive material, watch that you are on side with the privacy legislation in Canada. You don't know where your cloud is actually located which means that if you have client information you must notify them that their files are stored in clouds that may be located outside of Canada. Microsoft's cloud storage guarantees it is located in Canada. Microsoft's small business fees are around $15/month which includes Sharepoint if you need collaboration. You can load the whole Microsoft suite on 5 computers with the one subscription. So that is about $3/month per device.

Also I agree with Robert G. Brother has some awesome printers and their cartridges last the longest of any of the brands I've used. The worst I have come up against are the Cannon printers. They are really inexpensive but you get gouged on the ink cartridges.

May 02, 2017 @ 11:10 am
Jimmy M.
Jimmy M.'s picture

Is anyone using for accounting? They are based in Vancouver and seems to be getting more and more popular. Their service is absolutely free.

May 02, 2017 @ 11:40 am
shelley 's picture

How about shipping packages it seems we only have Canada post and UPS or purolator is there another service that's got better prices then these 3? I would love to hear back from anyone who knows of a different service. I live in Ontario.

May 03, 2017 @ 6:49 pm
Natasha's picture

Great tips here. I also recently made the switch from consulting to working from home for an organization. For the rare fax request, I have always liked the FaxFile app (with its super cute fox icon).

At $0.10/page on my Android, it came in handy earlier this week for a 'fax emergency/opportunity' that made my organization look great from an agile customer service standpoint. Glad I found out about it with my consulting biz and I won't likely need to use it again until next year!

May 06, 2017 @ 9:22 am

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