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A Home Office on a Shoestring Budget

By Kim Tilley

Setting up an office, particularly a home office, can be really expensive, IF you buy everything new and at full price! If you're willing to be creative, and if you have a little time, you can save a LOT of money. Here are some ideas to get your started:

Office Furniture

- Look to what you already have - at least for the short term. Two 30" file cabinets and a large board do fine as a desk (they sell them for over $1,000 in some of the fancy catalogs, just paint yours so they match- noone will know that yours didn't come from one of these places!) Do you have an old table that will make do as a desk?

- Put the word out - Does your neighbor have some furniture they are willing to part with that would serve your needs? Dressers can work as lateral file cabinets (especially if the drawers are very deep), countertops and even old kitchen cabinets can be adapted for a home office. Put out the word to family, friends and associates. Chances are that someone you know is getting rid of something that would suit your needs.

- Do your research - There are tons of alternatives to overpriced office furniture. Check out the classified ads, used office furniture stores in your area, going out of business sales, garage sales, thrift stores, and even alleyways! You'd be surprised what people are getting rid of. Sometimes, all something needs is a coat of paint or a minor repair to be good as new- which means you are recycling too. We hit a going out of business sale in town and bought 4 file cabinets for $50. Office Max is selling the same types of cabinets for $200 each. I also managed to get a small desk for my kids from my neighbor. They had a yard sale that got rained out, and they were placing everything out for whoever wanted it. I asked them if I could have the desk, and they were thrilled that someone could use it.

- Buy quality - If you are going to buy new office furniture, buy quality items that will last. That doesn't mean buy the most expensive, just be sure what you buy is solid and will stand the test of time. Be sure to check out antique furniture as well- it's already stood the test of time. Buy it once and use it forever!

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About the Author
Kim Tilley, a tightwad at heart, is the mother of three active boys and the founding editor of Frugal by force and later by choice, Kim cut her income by 60% to stay at home with her children and discovered that anyone can live better for less. Her work has appeared in print publications such as The Tightwad Gazette. In her free time, she entertains herself by chasing kids and finding ways to create something from nothing!

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