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I’m going to be completely honest. Saving does not come naturally to me. I love to spend money, and when I started my business, I felt like I had gained this free pass to spend even more money. 

Now that my one year anniversary of being a business owner is approaching, my mindset about how I invest in my business is changing.

Here is a quick snapshot of what business expenses I found to be absolutely essential and an absolute waste of money based on my own trial and error.

Useless Purchases

I made a lot of stupid purchases within my first six months in business. Being in the digital marketing space, I’m exposed to new tools and software every single day. But you can’t afford them all, and unless this tool offers a unique solution to something you specialize in and helps you earn more than 50% of your revenue each month, it’s most likely a wasted purchase. At the very least, you can get by using the free version.

Microsoft Office ($69.00/year)

Microsoft suite is ridiculously expensive, starting at around $70 for the annual subscription. One of the reasons I categorize this as one of my “worst” purchases within the first year of my business is because you have access to ALL of these tools if you have a Gmail account using Google Suite.

Adobe Creative Cloud ($56.00/month)

This was a toss-up for me. I use Adobe Creative Cloud at least once per day, whether that be creating PDF’s, or editing graphics in Photoshop. However, this coupled with my Canva subscription just didn’t make sense. 

Stock Image Subscriptions ($33.00/month)

Don’t waste money on any stock photo subscriptions unless you’re working in the graphic design space. I do quite a bit of design work for my clients, and I was able to make it through using all of the great free stock imagery options from Unsplash or Canva.

Random Online Courses ($1500)

This is slightly embarrassing. I am the exact target market for online courses and communities. Remember, you can find 95% of all information online FOR FREE if you have the time to do some research. I have never taken a course that had such revolutionary information that I couldn’t find it myself online using free resources.

A P.O. Box ($30.00/quarterly)

This was not a huge splurge, but it was still completely unnecessary for my business (and I ended up forgetting which box was mine after a week!) I never once used this P.O. Box and honestly, since I don’t deal with physical products, I make due with using my address for now. 

Zoom ($14.99/month)

At the time, I thought this was a really great purchase. But now that I reflect back, I probably could have made it through using the Free account. Zoom has even since beefed up their free plan with the giant influx of work-from-homers. 

Essential Business Expenses

I made a lot of spontaneous buying decisions early on, but I was finally able to narrow it down to the must-haves to run my business. These aren’t the only tools I use, but these are pretty much the only business expenses I have on a monthly basis present day. 

Quickbooks ($27.00/month) or any accounting tool

The second I started my business I set up a Quickbooks account. Although I’m not the biggest fan of Quickbooks and their customer service, I found a ton of peace in knowing that I had my finances organized.

Domain Name (12.00 + 12.00/Month)

This purchase was nearly essential to my business because I was able to set up a professional email account based on my domain name. I didn’t end up launching my website until nearly nine months later, but I still find this purchase to be completely worth it. Keep in mind – we are in the 21st century, and it is pretty much expected that your business has some type of website even if it’s just a single page. Your Facebook page is not a website!

Canva ($13.00/month) 

Canva is a great replacement for about 70% of what I used Adobe Creative Cloud for. They have a really awesome free plan as well, which I highly recommend for anyone not doing a ton of design work. The pro plan allows you to save the branding profiles of different clients, saving you time when creating designs. I love how easy it is to resize images, create new templates, and edit existing images.

Really good internet ($102.00/month)

This is an absolute ESSENTIAL to my business. Mainly because my entire business is online, and I work from home. This is probably the only expense within my business that I actually could not operate without. This is a must-have while everything else, although fantastic, are just really really “nice to haves.”

If you’re looking to reduce your business expenses each month I recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Make a list of your most essential tools and ones that are just nice to have.
  2. For the nice to have tools take a look and see if you can get by with their free plan, or if their is another tool that does the same thing but costs less money.
  3. Asses why you need this tool so much. Will you actually not be able to run your business without it or does it just make your life easier? For the purpose of cutting costs if it’s not an absolute must-have cut it out.

I have been working from home the majority of my employed life. I never envisioned myself as working from home and honestly didn’t know too much about it until it happened.  Learn more about how I started working from home.