Lately I’ve seen lots of personal finance bloggers talk about things they don’t buy to save money, such as subscription services or designer handbags. However, I haven’t seen solopreneurs and small business owners weigh in on their cost-cutting measures. So today I thought I’d cover 5 things I won’t buy as a solopreneur because they don’t benefit my business enough to justify the cost. Let’s jump in!
Courses and Coaching Programs
I used to be a big proponent of investing in yourself and upgrading your skills through courses and coaching or mentoring programs. However, there are a lot of courses and so-called experts online, so it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. I’ve paid for more than a few courses that were basic and didn’t provide much value, despite marketing claims that they were loaded with helpful information.
As a result, I’ve stopped buying courses and prefer to find free ways to learn what I need to know. There’s lots of educational content on YouTube that doesn’t cost a penny. You can also get free business advice through SCORE, the Small Business Administration, or your local small business development center, so there’s no need to shell out for one-on-one mentoring.
Software and Subscriptions
Another thing I refuse to spend money on is software and subscriptions. It seems like there’s software for everything these days, including keyword research, productivity, graphic design, and invoicing. You could easily end up with five or more subscriptions that cost you hundreds of dollars per month.
For some businesses with many employees and projects to manage, investing in software to streamline processes and workflows makes sense. But as a solopreneur, I can’t justify the cost. Free SEO tools like UberSuggest work just fine, as do the free versions of productivity apps like Trello and graphic design software like Canva. PayPal has a great invoicing feature, so I don’t feel the need to upgrade to QuickBooks or FreshBooks.
Cutting costs in this area enables me to keep more of my profits in my pocket, which means I can work less. And isn’t gaining freedom and control of your time what entrepreneurship is all about?
A few years ago, I hired a website designer to make me a professional website and a personal blog. The project cost me nearly $3,000, and in the end I wasn’t satisfied with the results. The project also took the designer months to complete, so it would’ve been quicker and cheaper to teach myself the basics of web design and make my portfolio website myself. As a solopreneur with a limited budget, I learned it’s better to get my hands dirty than outsource since I don’t have money to waste on contractors who do a subpar job.
I value and appreciate my clients, so I’ve thought about sending them Christmas gifts. But I decided against it due to logistical challenges. For many of my clients, I wouldn’t know where to send a gift or what to get them. Plus, if I gave them something generic, it probably wouldn’t stand out among the many presents they receive from their vendors during the holiday season.
Some marketing experts suggest giving presents to clients on a holiday that isn’t associated with gift-giving, or when they achieve an important business goal. That way your gesture doesn’t go unnoticed in a sea of presents. However, there are easier and cheaper ways to build rapport with clients than buying them gifts. Being reliable, overdelivering, emailing clients to congratulate them on their accomplishments, and offering occasional discounts or freebies can go just as far as sending fruit baskets for the holidays.
Office Supplies and Tech
As a writer, I don’t need much equipment to do my job effectively. I can get by with just a computer, a desk, and a comfy office chair. However, the urge to optimize my workspace by purchasing planners, journals, fancy pens, and tech like extra monitors is strong. Social media is full of pictures of beautifully organized desks and offices, and it can be hard to resist the temptation to mimic that aesthetic.
Whenever I want to purchase office supplies, equipment, or decor that isn’t mission critical, I remind myself that these purchases won’t help me maximize my earnings, so they aren’t worth spending my money on. Even if I can deduct the cost of office supplies and equipment on my taxes, it still doesn’t make sense to splash out things I don’t really need like fancy bullet journals or the latest tech.
Are there any things you don’t purchase to save money? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.