I've been working from home since 1989 and love it with every fiber of my being. It doesn't matter the route: telecommuter, entrepreneur, independent contractor, or freelancer - working at home is a wonderful experience. An essential element to working at home is living on a budget. You wouldn't believe how easy operating in your comfort zone makes it for you to lose track (and control) of your hard-earned dollars.
Here are a few work-at-home tips for living on a budget:
Live below your means
When you make a conscious effort to keep your expenses at a level that is drastically less than what you bring in you have the ability to save, give generously, and meet your daily living expenses without strain. Living below your means=living with a reduced level of stress.
Minimize the use of credit cards
Credit cards can be a death knell on a healthy budget. Compound interest rates keep you in debt when you only make minimum payments. Try to pay cash for as many goods and services as you can. You would be surprised at how much money this one tip alone will save you over the long run.
Watch your food expenses
Fast food is expensive and unhealthy. The food budget is one of the largest line items in many families' budgets. Discipline yourself to grocery shop and cook at home. Be on the lookout for sales, specials, and coupons. Take advantage of fresh, and less expensive, produce available at the farmer's market. Prepare meals in advance and freeze them for your own homemade version of 'fast food.'
Avoid car payments if at all possible
Excessively high car payments can put a strain on a frugal household budget. You're not the only one who has found themselves trapped in this area. I, too, have undertaken the monthly payment road before. Everything is well and fine when times are good and money is flowing freely. It's when emergencies arise for which no funds have been set aside and you find yourself financially strapped that car payments can become a problem. Buy used and pay cash, or position yourself financially where you're able to save most of what you make and still pay cash, but buy new, if you so desire.
The key is to get a mindset to pay cash.
Be wary of impulse buys
As much as possible, prepare for purchases, especially major ones, in your budget. Don't take the "I see, I want, I buy" approach. This can lead you down the road to financial disaster. Great peace really can be found in a budget, and once budgeting becomes a habit you'll find that it's difficult to live any other way.
I hope that these few tips will help someone. A work-at-home lifestyle equates to freedom, and if you can keep a reign on your expenses you can enjoy your freedom without stress or worry.
Sources: DaveRamsey.com: Eating Healthy on a "Beans and Rice" Budget
DaveRamsey.com: How Much House Can You Afford?
*Photo: Keith Ramsey via Flickr
[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 07/01/2014 (no longer published there).]