Ask The Entreprenette

Finding money for your start-up

Dear Sarah,

I’ve recently launched my home-based business, and my sales are inconsistent. Until I can get a steady income flow, what are some ways that I can save money in my everyday life?


Sandi Hochman  Lucky Puppy


Dear Sandi,

Thanks for a great question!  I reached out to my friend Andrew of Money Crashers as he has awesome ideas about how to save money and get ahead!

Starting a home-based business is a huge challenge, and in the beginning, times can be tough. However, there is no reason to despair as there are a variety of ways to save money everyday to make running your business more manageable.

1. Spend Less on Groceries Many people leave a lot of money on the table when it comes to grocery shopping. The best way to impact this expense is by using coupons and learning how to extreme coupon. Pick up a Sunday paper, scan through the ads for the items that you buy the most, and capitalize on all discounts. Many national grocers will “stack” or “double” coupons, and shopping at multiple grocers will allow you to save even more. Additionally, see if you have a farmers market near your home. They offer the same fresh produce that your favorite grocer has at lower prices.

2. Lower Your Rent/Mortgage If you rent, contact your landlord to negotiate a lower rental price. You can offer up services around the property (e.g. home repair) or you can capitalize on the fact that you have been a loyal tenant. It never hurts to ask. If you own a home, on the other hand, consider refinancing your home mortgage. I have refinanced my mortgage several times over the years to save money, and there are a lot of options at your disposal regarding different mortgage plans. And if you’re upside down on your mortgage (i.e. you owe more than your house is worth), see if you qualify to refinance under one of the Making Home Affordable government programs.

3. Adjust Your Discretionary Spending If you are intent on building and establishing your home-based business, temporarily cut back on discretionary spending to free up more capital for your business. Yes, going without your morning latte or favorite cable channels can be annoying for a while, but it’s only temporary and the extra cash flow could give your business just what it needs to take off. Once you get established with a more steady income flow, you can resume normal spending activities.

4. Save on the Business Itself There are many ways to save on the business itself. Consider used furniture and computer equipment to outfit your office in the beginning, and investigate all free forms of marketing. Also, make sure you are aware of and take advantage of any tax breaks and write-offs related to your home-based business.

5. Put Investing On Hold I never like to recommend not investing for retirement, but if you need to free up capital to maintain your business, considering scaling back your retirement investment expenditures. If you can get your home-based business to the level that it will generate significant income, you can resume and increase retirement investing. But if you want to tap retirement accounts for business capital and are younger than 59 1/2, be careful! Most of the time you’ll be hit with steep penalties. It’s best to first consult with a financial planner if you want to withdraw from a previous employer’s retirement plan or your traditional IRA.

Andrew Schrage is owner of the personal finance site and business, Money Crashers.

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

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