After going over budget and spending more than $1,000 on my recent home office upgrade, I’ve learned where I could do better. In this article, I will share 11 ways you can build a cheap home office without burning a hole in your wallet.
No, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the quality or go for the less ideal options even when you want to set up a home office on a budget.
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1) Don’t rush to build your home office
One of the mistakes I made while working on my home office upgrade was that I was attempting to buy everything that I thought I needed in the shortest amount of time.
This resulted in purchases that were not the best for my needs – time and money was wasted as I needed to source for a more suitable item again.
If I could turn back time, what I would do now is to take my time and plan my home office upgrade in clearly defined stages.
In hindsight, a clear sign that I was rushing things through was when I was making unplanned purchases on a wimp for my home office on a day to day basis.
2) Lengthen timeline for the project
When I upgraded my home office, I spent all my money on it in one go.
To be more budget-friendly, what I could’ve done, without breaking the bank or sacrificing on any quality is to lengthen how long it would take overall in completing my home office upgrade in terms of the money spent.
Perhaps instead of spending $1,000 in one go, I stagger it out into 3 tranches over 3 months. This will give me more time to save up as well as more time to research what I really need for my home office.
3) Do research on what you need
My rush and lack of adequate research contributed to me spending unnecessary money on products that were unsuitable for my needs or were of subpar quality.
If I could rewind time, what I would do instead is to not just look at the 5-stars reviews for the products that I want, but also look at the 1-star reviews to determine if I can accept the potential downside of the product.
I would also not just depend on 1 platform to get the items that I need. Instead, I would cycle between a few reputable shopping platforms, look at their reviews and pricing, and then decide which one I would go with.
4) Create a budget you must stick to
I initially told myself that I was only going to spend $500 at most for my home office, but I ended up spending more than $1,000.
Thinking rationally now, instead of going over budget, I would instead stick closely to my budget or even if there was a need to increase the budget, I would lengthen the timeline for my home office project so that the excess budget required doesn’t eat into any of my funds that I’ve set aside for other stuff.
5) Clearly define what you need
My whole process of getting what I needed for my home office was a mess. I did not make a clear list of the items I needed and I did not know what exactly I needed.
What I would do now learning from my mistake – I would first make a list of the ideal list of the items that would make my home office my dream home office, then, I would compare it against the budget that I have.
I would then see where might it be possible to reduce the cost or remove items that I would deem as non-essential.
6) Reuse where possible
Reusing furniture/home office accessories can help to channel the budget elsewhere where it can be better spent.
While I made many mistakes in setting up my home office, reusing what I already had was something that I thought I practised well – I reused the main bulk of any home office, the table. I also reused a bookshelf, both of which, if I were to buy, would likely be big-ticket items.
7) Buy secondhand if possible
If reusing is not an option either because the item is worn out, obsolete or is just no longer suitable for what you need, consider buying secondhand items from a trustworthy platform so that you can save on costs as compared to buying it brand new.
8) Do it yourself if possible
Most of the furniture that I bought for my home office, I assembled myself. I estimate that this has saved me at least $100 – money that would have translated to additional cost in setting up my home office if I chose to hire someone to do it for me.
The furniture that I fixed up myself – an ergonomic chair, bookshelf and a cabinet.
If you have the necessary tools, you could even choose to assemble simple home office accessories such as a monitor stand.
9) Sell what you don’t need
I sold more than 60 of my books. While it did not generate a lot of cash that significantly increased my budget for my home office project, I think that selling what you don’t need is something that is worth looking at, especially if one is working on a tight budget, trying to build a home office.
10) Don’t go for the high-end stuff
For some of the items that you’re looking to add to your home office, there will likely be different tiers to them. Instead of getting the highest end product, get something that is mid-tier, or even entry-level especially if you won’t be interacting with it so much.
Case in point – I opted for the Logitech MX Master 2S mouse instead of the higher tier Logitech MX Master 3 because the former will serve my purpose well enough. I don’t need to spend the extra money just to get the latest technology.
11) Cut expenses from other areas
Despite trying my best to follow all the tips in this article, I found myself unable to build my home office on a budget.
So, what I did as a last resort was to move budgets from other areas of my life into the home office project instead.
My advice if you choose to apply this tip is to do it sparingly.
Follow this link for some inspiration for what you could get for your home office. Most of the items listed are mid-tier items that are affordable and would work for someone trying to build a home office on a budget.