Decades ago, it seemed like those who worked from home were artists, pet sitters and writers. Nowadays, business owners and telecommuters in all industries now work from home all the time. And at home they have the same office equipment they would have in a regurlar office environment.

Buying too much in the early stages of your startup can put your new business (and maybe your personal life) into a major crisis. But starting a new business doesnít mean you have to go to the poor house. Here are some tips to help you manage your costs as your embark on new home business adventures.

Buy only what you need
There will never be a time when youíll run out of awesome things to buy, especially when youíre just starting a business or currently running one. New laptops, new phones, new printers, new books and new software are all tempting, and possibly useful. But they are also expensive (for a new business) and everything you buy wonít help to bring in any cash. So, before you think about buying anything, make sure itís something you really need for the business. I know that sounds like common sense, but buying on impulse is also a common mistake and puts you at risk for failing.

Newbies to business are often tempted to buy more than whatís needed, but experienced business owners arenít strong in that department either. To maintain your spending, think how you will use what you want to buy, and how often. Think hard before handing over your credit card.

Make the most of your space
Available space is in short demand in home offices and many small businesses. Personal computers, desks and cabinets barely offer enough space to fit all of your gear, paperwork and work at hand. But with a little ingenuity, you may be able to make the most of it. Include wall cabinets or desk file cabinets to ease space problems. Your local office store should stock a variety of shelves, hutches, and compact furniture to give you everything you need.

Use your closet
Another way to add extra square footage if you work in a small home office is to make it a part of your closet. Remove the door, add shelves, and a table top for your desktop/laptop. Buy a short, reasonably priced cabinet and place it under said table top.

The two file cabinets and door trick
This is an oldie but goodie: use two file cabinets that are the same height, and then place a door on top of them. Youíll have a desk thatís roomy enough to hold a monitor and desktop, at half the price of regular office furniture.

If the file cabinet is too high for you to work from, buy a pneumatic computer chair and something to rest your feet on. Then lift your seat to match the height.

Buy from auctions and garage sales
If you need new thins for your home office, local garage sales are the place to shop to find unheard of bargains. Look in the paper for garage sales being held in upscale neighborhoods. Look out for ads that indicate the family is moving out state. Plan your trip so youíre the first at those sales. If thereís a phone number listed, call ahead and ask if they have what youíre looking for before the garage sale starts.

One manís trash is another manís gold
Office equipment doesnít have to be brand new to be useable. You can find what you need at low prices or even free if you are willing to take equipment that isnít new. You can get all sorts of stuff for free because a company is throwing them out. Ask if you can have it, if they say yes, youíll save at least $100.

Another way of finding used equipment is to look in the phone book. Scan the category of goods you want to buy and look for Used or Refurbished in the ads. Or, look on Craigslist for used items for sale. Keep your ears open for any companies leaving town, downsizing, or closing, too. They may sell you their furniture for next to nothing.

Trade up
One trick you can use is to spot obsolete computers while shopping for office equipment at garage sales. You can buy a computer for $50 and then take it to a computer shop for a $250 trade-in towards a new one.

Or you can buy office furnishings at an auction, and then resell them for a profit at your own garage sale. Now you can use those that money to buy the office supplies you really need.

Recycle or throw out what you donít need
Are you using that old computer collecting dust in the basement? If not, get rid of it. If it has data on the drive you might need in the future, back it up first, or put the computer in another room to remind yourself to get it done.

Go through your filing cabinets before you get another one, too. If youíve been in business for years, youíll be shocked at what you might find. If there are records you may need, but not on a regular basis, place them in a Ziploc bag and move them to an out-of-the way area. Make copies of all your important documents such as your business license, id cards, contracts or other legal information. Put the originals in a safety deposit box and keep photocopies with your other records.

Recycle paper
Odds are that you print out more than enough to keep. To keep expenses low, donít throw out the paper after youíre done with it. Recycle them. Either use the other side for rough drafts, or cut up the paper for youíre your own customized notepads.