Don't Skimp on the Things That Count

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly more frugal and more DIYish. I blame self-employment for enabling me to figure out just how much I can do on my own. I never buy frozen dinners because, besides the health factors, I can make the same meal for less money. I have decent sewing skills and I’m always passing up clothes because I think I can make them myself for less (it never happens). Instead of paying $10 - $20 each for fancy storage boxes, I made my own by cutting and re-gluing moving boxes. The amount of frugal/DIY projects on my list is overwhelming.

I’ve been delaying a crucial marketing device because I’ve been too cheap to pay for it and my DIY list is so long, I may have never gotten around to it. For years, I’ve been too cheap to pay for a professional business picture. It’s a requirement for one of my major clients and I’ve skated by without a picture for a very long time. And several times, I’ve been asked for a photo to accompany an article or an expert quote but I haven’t had one – at least not one that I felt gave justice to my more professional self.

I finally decided to move it up on the priority list. I even added to my 30 before 30 list for extra motivation. I made an appointment at a studio in my area and forked over $75.99 for their business package, which essentially gives me the right to use my photograph online or however. I took my photos today and I’m only sorry I didn’t do it sooner.

Saving money is great. But some business expenses are worth spending the extra. For example, if your web design skills don’t go beyond basic HTML, it may be better to hire someone to create your professional website (note to self). If tax rules and accounting aren’t your thing, hiring an accountant (one with small business or sole proprietor experience) is better than doing your own taxes and certainly cheaper than penalties you may face from DIY errors. You might buy accounting software instead of fussing around with your own Excel spreadsheets. You could pay someone to design your business cards or to edit your work. Or, you may pay extra for a computer that will last longer or for faster internet service.

The lesson I've learned is not to sacrifice much-needed business expenses for the sake of saving money. (Oh and it also takes time to save money, but that's a story for another day.) You can justify the cost with a business tax deduction.

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LaToya Irby is a full-time freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She primarily writes about personal finance, freelancing, and other self-employment topics.

3 thoughts on “Don't Skimp on the Things That Count”

  1. La Toya, there’s such a small line between keeping it simple, doing it yourself and deprivation! At least I find it so.

    Thanks

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  2. A great post, and something we have also recently realised. Wasting hours struggling with something is just not worthwhile: pay someone to do it! Then you can get on with the things you know you can handle.

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  3. I totally agree with this. At the same time, I like using (free) open-source software whenever I can. For example, right now I like Siwapp (www.siwapp.org) for invoices. It does take some basic HTML knowledge to make them look the way I want, but I find it simpler than using an OpenOffice/Word template.

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