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Thread: Share tips for building a home office on a budget.

  1. #1
    Get In Where You Fit In Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    Default Share tips for building a home office on a budget.

    I have pieced together my office bit by bit and I didn't spend $1000's to do it, yet I have all the hardware and communication functions that I need to do business with anyone, anywhere.

    I thought this would be a good thread for people to share where they have saved money to get the stuff that they needed to do business.

    The first thing is of course a computer. If you can't buy a new one right away, then you need to get your old one in as good as shape as you can.

    I started with my old Compaq Presario. Painfully slow (512 MB of RAM, but top of the line when I got it), but it did the job until I could do better. If you are starting with an old computer there are some things that you can do to get it running a little better until you can get a new one.

    You have to clean it out. If you are using an old computer or one with many users such as a family computer, you have to get it into shape and clean out the sludge and memory hogs that slow it down.
    Some free tools that you can use are:

    1. Spybot Search and Destroy will help clean out any spyware that is slowing down your system. I used to run it every week on my old computer. Now I run it once a month:
    The home of Spybot-S&D!
    2. Adaware. Spyware and Adware are not necessarily the same and can have different signatures. Some programs will find spyware and not pick up adware. Adaware can help you find any adware on your system that Spybot may not see and clean them out.
    You can get the free version here: Ad-Aware by Lavasoft - Antivirus software, free spyware removal, firewall
    3. CCleaner will help you rid your computer of broken paths, and registry issues that slow it down.
    CCleaner - Optimization and Cleaning - Free Download

    It is also a good idea to organize your files. Delete stuff that you don't need or haven't used in years that are taking up space. Free up some physical memory by transferring video, image and music files to an external drive or flash drive.

    You can also speed up your PC by using the included tools Disk Clean up and Disk Defragmenter.

    If you have done all of that and still find that it is moving slow, you can add more RAM to your system. A 32 bit system ( which is what most older PC's are) can only hold (or process) up to 3 1/2 Gigs of RAM. From what I understand, even if you put in more, it will still only be able to use up to 3 1/2. For more RAM you need a 64 bit system.
    Even still, an extra Gig ( if your computer can take it) can make a big difference and it's a cheap upgrade until you can get a new system. I upgraded my old Compaq from 512MB and added 3G's of RAM and it made a big difference.

    You can scan your system and see how much (if any) and what kind of RAM to buy at Crucial:
    Memory upgrades from Crucial.com - About Crucial:Media Toolbox
    Of course once you get your box into shape, if you don't have a decent internet connection it still won't run the web much faster. A good internet connection is crucial and one of the most important investments that you can make if you are doing business online. For me it's my most important bill and probably the highest of all of my monthly expenses..but having a fast connection saves me money on so many other things. and makes using my computer so much more enjoyable.

    Your computer is obviously crucial, so you want to keep it in the best shape possible to avoid any crashes or slow downs.
    Stay away from warez, P2P, or free download sites. They are littered with garbage hidden in files. This goes for any and everything...music, movies, software, free wordpress themes. All of it.
    If you can't afford to buy it, then wait. A bad download can end up costing you far more than the price of the product. It is not worth it. If you are using a laptop with one drive and no back up, you are really playing with fire.

    Lastly, it is also important to physically clean out your box ( tower) if you have a desktop, with some kind of compressed or canned air.. If you don't do this regularly you will be sick with the amount of dust that accumulates. Dust build up can inhibit circulation and make your computer run hot, which slows it down. It is also important to make sure that your tower has proper ventilation around the fans and that you don't have them blocked from getting air circulating.

    Please share some other cost saving things that you have done, or do for your home office.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 03-07-2011 at 01:35 AM. Reason: More i

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    Super Moderator Array Dan Furman's Avatar
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    I just ditched the business landline ($40 a month), and downloaded "line 2" for my iphone. Essentially gives you a second number for $10 a month (and, you can port your old number to it). Plus neat stuff like e-mailing voicemails to you, etc.

    $30 a month more for me!!

    <------------- Winning!
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    I look at your laundry list of things to aviod for spyware and virus's. I went to Linux about 2 years ago (win XP era) because I didn't feel like playing the windows game of needing to upgrade OS's and applications every year or two. I don't really recommend Linux because of the learniing curve, but I have zero of the problems you have regarding virus's and spyware.

    Since the thread topic is "Share tips for building a home office on a budget" open source and linux can save you a lot of money and is as good or better than windows. It's not one click though so it's not for everyone.

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    Member Needs New Keyboard Array Spider's Avatar
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    I don't know if this counts but I don't get caught up in "must have the latest..." whatever, so I dont have an iPad, an iPod, an iPhone, I don't buy apps, I don't download stuff, don't listen to iTunes, don't change my ringtone every hour or two, don't use Adwords (or is it AdSense - can't remember which is which!), don't have a gazillion channels of cable tv (have basic cable internet), don't rent movies, don't go to the movies, and rarely eat out. I think that saves me at least $500,000 a month!!!!

  5. #5
    Get In Where You Fit In Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Furman View Post
    I just ditched the business landline ($40 a month), and downloaded "line 2" for my iphone. Essentially gives you a second number for $10 a month (and, you can port your old number to it). Plus neat stuff like e-mailing voicemails to you, etc.

    $30 a month more for me!!

    <------------- Winning!
    That's a good one. There are a lot of options these days for phone that are pretty inexpensive.
    I got a Google Talk number a while back (free) and it's what I've been using on my websites. I also have a Magic Jack voip line for $20 a year. Works just great. I have the Google Voice number forwarded to the Magic Jack number so I'm basically paying nothing for a land line and if you are on a minute plan on your phone, it saves you from having to use your cell as a business line like a lot of people do in the beginning.

    For international communications I use Skype (again free). It's pretty popular with people outside of the U.S., which I also use for Video conferencing.

    So basically I have 2 phone numbers (one of which is kind of a vanity number), VOIP line, and video conferencing for pretty much nothing. And I don't have to publish any of my actual phone numbers anywhere for anything. Everything is tied into the same Blue tooth ear piece so I can answer any line (including cell's) , or Skype from anywhere in the house and know which is which by the ring or the caller ID.
    Brilliant! And Cheap! Mind you my internet connection is expensive, but it's a trade off to be able to do so much with it and have a fast connection.

    I have a buddy with a business package that is paying $320 a month for business internet with phone to do the exact same thing that I am doing for almost nothing and his connection isn't nearly as fast.

    I rarely ever need to send a fax, but when I do I use Pam Fax, so no need for a fax line. You can get a fax number as well if you need it. I think I spent $10 6 months ago, and still have a bunch of credit for faxes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    I don't know if this counts but I don't get caught up in "must have the latest..." whatever, so I dont have an iPad, an iPod, an iPhone, I don't buy apps, I don't download stuff, don't listen to iTunes, don't change my ringtone every hour or two, don't use Adwords (or is it AdSense - can't remember which is which!), don't have a gazillion channels of cable tv (have basic cable internet), don't rent movies, don't go to the movies, and rarely eat out. I think that saves me at least $500,000 a month!!!!
    I like new stuff, but that's more personal than business.

    I did recently taper back my cable channels back to basic since I wasn't really watching a lot of TV and football season is over so I don't need the sports package. However, for $7.99 a month, Netflicks is great for additional entertainment. Combined with a Wifi enabled Blueray player that I got a few months back on special, it's not too bad and the savings I applied to the fastest internet connection since it went full price...which runs all of my free communications. Totally worth it and saves me a bunch of money ($60 a month on extra cable channels and no phone bill) without actually giving anything up that I actually miss.

    And I couldn't live without iTunes. Again, free entertainment all day long. I used to have a satellite radio subscription, but the wealth of free iTunes stations in every genre and niche pretty much makes that a waste of money.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 03-07-2011 at 05:01 PM.

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    Super Moderator Array Dan Furman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eborg9 View Post
    And I couldn't live without iTunes. Again, free entertainment all day long. I used to have a satellite radio subscription, but the wealth of free iTunes stations in every genre and niche pretty much makes that a waste of money.
    I bought a lifetime subscription to XM a few years ago, so I'll keep that in the office. But I'm ditching satellite radio in the cars. While I liked it when it came out, other technology has made satellite radio seem as "old" as the terrestrial radio satellite sought to replace. I have an ipod and an iphone, a jack for it in my truck, and a million apps to get me whatever I want.
    Dan Furman - Copywriter, Business Author, Entrepreneurial/Business Consultant
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    Super Moderator Array Dan Furman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    I don't know if this counts but I don't get caught up in "must have the latest..." whatever, so I dont have an iPad, an iPod, an iPhone, I don't buy apps, I don't download stuff, don't listen to iTunes, don't change my ringtone every hour or two, don't use Adwords (or is it AdSense - can't remember which is which!), don't have a gazillion channels of cable tv (have basic cable internet), don't rent movies, don't go to the movies, and rarely eat out. I think that saves me at least $500,000 a month!!!!
    Not that you need to become an itunes junkie, but I suspect the above will eventually affect your coaching business. Things are different today, and not being up on technology (even just getting an e-mail or appointment change on your handheld device, or making sure you show up in a search) will hurt a business.

    Last year, my eyes were opened on a NYC trip w/ my nephew. I wanted to find a cigar store. He pulled out his iphone, hit a few keys, and bam, we had several choices, complete w/ map. To have that kind of information, in seven seconds, right in your hand? It blew me away.

    Now, the cigar shop needs to make sure they show up in a search like that, no? That means being involved with technology. And you, as a coach, need to know that.
    Dan Furman - Copywriter, Business Author, Entrepreneurial/Business Consultant
    Business Writing Services | Website Copywriting Services | Blog here
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  8. #8
    Get In Where You Fit In Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    Agreed. A recent client wanted to get into weekly podcasts and put them on her website. If I had no knowledge, even basic knowledge of how it worked, I wouldn't have been able to help her. You just can't be in business today, especially in any kind of business consulting and not be up on at least some basic technologies.

    Many consultants use podcasts as a marketing tool to promote their business. Not saying that it's a must, but the more you know about things and how consumers are using them, the more you can use those things to your advantage.

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    Member Needs New Keyboard Array Spider's Avatar
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    Thank you for your advice, but I'm afraid you two kind souls are not really up on what a coach does - at least, you are clearly not aware what this coach does. Being aware of what technology exists is not the same as partaking of it, and, in any case, I do not put myself forward as a technology advisor.

    If someone came to me to seek advice on website technology, I would send them to you, Harold. If someone came to me for help getting the right words together for a particular purpose, I would send them to you, Dan. I don't need to do either to be a great coach. Whether you think you need to know of and know about the very latest in technology to do what you do, is your decision. I would think Harold does and Dan doesn't, but I would leave that up to you.

    For me, it is not necessary, but even so, I think I am quite au fait with what technology exists, even though I don't need to be. And I certainly don't need to use it to be aware of it.

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    Member Needs New Keyboard Array Blessed's Avatar
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    I'm thinking through these issues right now - we are in the process of getting our house ready to sell and looking at building or buying out away from town a bit on some acreage - so considering the different options for internet service has become quite essential for me! Also alternatives for the land line and fax line. We will probably simply do away with the land line, but we might add it back in somehow as my primary business line - I have started handling the customer service/pr side of the business for a franchise that I do quite a bit of work with here locally and am having owners of the same franchise in other areas of the country come to me for the same service - which is great! and which uses up several thousand minutes on my cell phone plan every month - so it's time to reconsider those options!

    This is the second time this week I've heard about Magic Jack - I need to check into that a bit more!
    ~Jenn
    Crazy Dog Creative: Graphic Design and Marketing

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