Freelancers are a hugely important section of the economy. Recent figures from IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed) suggest that 2 million are freelancers and they generate £119Bn of sales. This article sets out how freelancers can cut costs working from home.
If you’re one of them, and you largely work from home, here are some tips to make sure you keep your costs to a minimum.
Energy costs for freelancers working from home
How you heat the room where you work can make the biggest difference to your bills. If there’s no one else in the house you don’t need the central heating on do finding a solution to this is a great example of how Freelancers can cut costs.
Much better to create ‘zoned’ (or room-by-room) heating so you only heat the parts you use.
Room-by-room heating can be built into new houses and gives the ultimate in flexibility, efficiency, and comfort.
Just imagine: bathroom warm from 06.00 – 7.30, kitchen from 06.45 – 8.00, office/ study from 07.45 – 18.00 etc. Rooms not in use don’t need to be heated.
But room-by-room heating for the whole house is hard to retrofit and most of us resort to portable heaters when the central heating is off. These all tend to be electric and the type of heater you choose is crucial to your comfort as well as your bills.
The worst heaters are the most common, e.g:
Convector radiators create convection currents resulting in cold draughts at feet and ankle level. This is very uncomfortable after you’ve been sitting a while.
Fan heaters are expensive to run. They’re also noisy, stir up the air, and cause stuffiness.
Both these types of heater clutter up your room and generally get in the way!
The best heater has none of these drawbacks, thankfully.
For a few years now, we’ve been selling a heater that mimics underfloor heating. Yet it is still a portable electric heater that can be plugged in anywhere indoors. Perfect for freelancers who sit at a desk or table all day.
It’s called RugBuddy and is available in a range of sizes. It’s a type of heated floor mat you place the RugBuddy on the floor, cover it with a rug, or mat, and plug it in.
Very soon the heater will turn the surface of the rug into a source of radiant warmth and it is so effective it will be all you need to stay warm as you work.
Comfort is paramount but you’ll also be impressed at the low running costs: 4p per hour for a medium-sized 250 Watt RugBuddy, versus 45p per hour for a 3 kiloWatt fan heater or convector radiator!
See more about RugBuddy here.
While you’re looking at energy costs, have you switched yet to LED bulbs? Energy Saving Trust reckons it costs about £100 to fit LED bulbs throughout a house, but you will save £35 per year. And the bulbs last for years. Here’s the full list of quick wins from Energy Saving Trust.
Freelancer travel tips
If you have client visits to make, how efficiently do you plan your travel?
Season tickets are costly if your usage falls below a certain number of days. There comes a point where ‘pay as you go’ becomes the more sensible option.
And if each trip can achieve more than just the single appointment, then you’re really getting value from your ticket. Even if you incorporate some shopping, running errands, or catching up with old friends, you’ll feel as though you’ve gained a small victory!
Depending on where you live, traveling by car is usually the most flexible way to go.
Compared with going by train you loose the chance to work during the journey but door-to-door convenience counts for a lot. If you have multiple calls to make, being efficient about planning your route is a whole science in itself. ‘The Travelling Salesman Problem’ is ‘a thing’ – I know because I studied it at school! See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling_salesman_problem
To be honest, Google maps and a good SatNav are probably your biggest friends to avoid wasting time on the roads.
… And here’s a footnote on tax efficiency for freelancers
Tax is a huge issue for Freelancers. HMRC want to know precisely what you earn, where it’s coming from, and which expenses are permissible.
This need not be complicated or expensive. The more you can do yourself by keeping good records, and always knowing where you stand regarding tax liabilities, the less stressful will be your dealings with HMRC.
Keeping track can be hard for all but the ultra-organised. But help is at hand in the form of dedicated mobile apps.
I’ve just been introduced to one called SimpleTax. SimpleTax calculates your tax bill as you go through the year.
Updated in real time, you’ll get a swift, accurate view of your income, expenditure and tax liabilities. This makes saving for, and submitting, your Self Assessment, easy as pie.
But it also usefully suggests how freelancers can cut costs, and the expenses you may be missing. This gives you a great boost of confidence that you are managing your business efficiently.
Visit https://www.gosimpletax.com/ for more information (Disclosure: I have no connection with this company)