Make working from home work for you

Lauren Leisk, Yahoo7 Moneyhound April 19, 2012, 10:26 am

The casualisation of the Aussie workforce over the past two decades has made it increasingly difficult for freelancers and low to moderate income workers to pay their rent.

We're living in an economic climate where job security and being able to pay bills is becoming a major concern. Casual and contract workers live with the constant threat that their hours may be cut, and they have to battle against mortgages that are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

Those who are self-employed are three times more likely to struggle paying rent compared to workers with permanent positions. They also worry about whether they can maintain clients.

Think that's bad?

Research by unions show that casual and contract workers are more likely to be victims of being underpaid. South Australia Unions state secretary Janet Giles believes this is down to fearing they won't get another shift if they speak up and complain about their conditions.

The positive is that there are ways for casual and self-employed workers to save and get ahead. In some cases, you can make more money from working at home than by joining the daily grind. Here's how:

1. Renting and sharing

Renting houses is popular choice today due to the decline in housing security confidence. Casual workers love shared accommodation because it decreases the bills. It's also an advantage for self-employed workers: if they occupy two rooms (one for their office), a portion of their rent has tax benefits if it's used for business purposes.

2. Discipline

If you're working from home or self employed, discipline is a winning ingredient. You're going to have to stick to set hours and fulfil them, which is great if you're the type of person who works best by being autonomous, and can create a work schedule and stick to it. There are no co-workers to blame if you miss a deadline and no rush hour to endure. You also must budget your own finances.

3. Save where you can

Working from home has its perks. Not only do you avoid paying for the daily commute, but also cafe coffee and lunches, which can quickly add up. You should put the money you would usually spend on such items aside - say $25 per day - use it for whenever you need to take a sick day, paying off extra bills or put it towards a mortgage deposit. Also take note of electricity, phone and broadband bills. Your accountant will be able to tell you what percentage you can claim on tax. To compare what your paying for your broadband or electricity usage, use Moneyhound and see if you can get a cheaper deal. Related: 11 ways to save money around the office

4. Shop smarter

Need a new stapler or computer? Shop around online to secure the best prices to decrease your ongoing business costs. The good news is freelancers can claim any business-related costs at tax-time. So keep your receipts and document all expenditure on office supplies. Officeworks have pretty low prices and you can buy online.

5. Eat in

You still need to eat, even if you work from home. It's far cheaper to buy in bulk and cook your own meals than opt for takeaway. If you buy your groceries online from Woolies or Coles you can get it delivered to your door which will save you time.

6. Swap services

Do you have any friends or business contacts that you can tit-for-tat with? For instance if you are a freelance journalist, you could write an article or press release for a supplier of office furniture or computer equipment in order to get those products at a discount price. To make contra deal with someone you'll usually always need to speak with the business owner.

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