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Five ways to keep a lid on the costs of running a home office.

Running a home office that won't always run on company time means you must ante up some of your own money. Here are five ways to keep a lid on costs.

  1. Avoid paper. Copying, faxing, and printing burns money for paper, ink cartridges, and printer wear. Whenever possible, keep it digital.
  2. Use the company's email account. When dialing in from home, make sure to coordinate your email so you don't leave messages there. Just forward important email to your office inbox. If this is not possible, see #3.
  3. Get an account from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as NETCOM or EarthLink. For about $20 a month you get full Web access and an email account. Then set up your office email to automatically forward messages to your home account, so you're always in the loop.
  4. Use one provider for your home phones and cell-phones. You'll get a larger combined discount for all your calls.
  5. Use toll-free numbers. Whether you're calling a client or reaching a vendor from home, try to use the company's 800 or 888 toll-free number. You need not embarrass yourself by asking the company for the number — just look it up in AT&T's online directory ( or call 800-555-1212.

A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.