Everyone needs a home office. Even if you don't work at home, you need some place where you can quietly go over your budget, bills, and finance management. Even if it is just a desk in a room. We have a library/office in my home that we use to do the budget, pay bills, research, and talk about finances. The most important thing, in my opinion, is good organization. Here are some elements of my home office that I couldn't live without.
- A computer: Just any desktop computer with some good software programs. These include spreadsheet (either MS Excel or the free open source OpenOffice), a desktop calendar (I use Active Desktop Calendar), an address/contact book (Outlook for me).
- Online access: I would be lost without the Internet. Via email we can quickly contact companies, through the net we can find corporate phone numbers instantly, conduct research, and manage our bank accounts.
- A filing cabinet: We use a large 5 drawer steel filing cabinet to store our documents, all well organized into categories and labeled folders. Such documents include our bills, statements, declaration pages, copies of outgoing letters - essentially everything up to 2 years old. A couple of drawers are dedicated to older documents like tax papers, contracts, and other "archived" statements/bills/etc. Filing cabinets are expensive, but you needn't buy them new. I purchased mine from an old supply warehouse for $20. For about $5 you can buy a can of "Appliance Paint" to make it look brand new.
- A safe: We keep our credit cards, personal identification, and titles in a fireproof safe.
- A desk with plenty of space: I can't stand a cluttered desk or one that doesn't let me lay out my paperwork.
- Sticky notes: I'm a big fan of sticky notes. I use them to jot down paycheck disbursements and leave notes on my monitor about pending transfers or balances.
- A phone: I like having the phone right on my desk when I need it, next to the computer and my filing cabinet so I can quickly get to information I need.
- Office supplies: The essentials, like scrap paper, pens/pencils, a calculator, stapler/scotch tape, scissors, etc.
- A shredder: A good one that will take whole envelopes. I use mine mostly for shredding unwanted solicitations, but also for those courtesy checks, expired credit cards, old documents, and incriminating photographs.