One of the first things you should look at when deciding whether working from home is right for you is your current expenses. There are many different budgeting programs available to help you sit down and map out your bills. Programs like Quicken offer an easy way to print out reports, or you can invest in a program like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and Total Money Makeover Complete 2009 Home Study Kit w/ Dvds Cds Books. The initial cost can be a little steep, but if you split the program with another couple or two it can help reduce the price. You can also resell this program for pretty good return. If you simply can’t afford the full kit, then I recommend you purchase Dave’s Cash Flow Planning: The Nuts and Bolts of Budgeting.
Whether you choose to use a system like Dave’s or go it alone, the first thing you’ll want to do is figure out what all your current expenses are. This includes any frivolous items you might be buying or costs associated with your current job.
The goal for now is to write down every penny you spend. One of the best things to do is to get a small notebook for every member of the household who has control over the cash flow and begin writing down what you spend. Even if you go through McDonald’s and purchase a $1.00 drink, write it down.
Here are a few of the expenses a typical household might have:
- Mortgage or rent
- Car payment
- Credit Cards (list even the small ones like for department stores)
- Utilities & Household Expenses
- Trash Pickup
- Cell Phones
- Subscriptions (magazines, etc.)
- Car Upkeep and Repair
- Personal Grooming (hair cuts, nails, makeup)
- Pet Expenses
- School Expenses
- Eating Out
- Vacation Fund
- Small Spending (notebook)
There may be other categories where you spend that are not listed. I really recommend that you take your time and track expenses for at least a month or two. Even though you might be itching to start working from home, it would be better to take your time on these steps and set things up so you don’t later regret your decision or even worse find yourself strapped for cash and have to return to the rat race trap. You may also want to plan in some spending money or an extra $100 or so for anything you might have forgotten. Plan for the unexpected that crops up:
- New School Clothes
- Field Trips
- Travel Costs to a Funeral
Next, we’ll talk about the true cost of working away from home!