The freedoms we enjoy in many parts of the world are guarded by brave men and women who sacrifice and risk their lives every day. Many of them spend long amounts of time away from home in isolation, which can take a toll on their morale.
As a token of your thanks, it’s a great idea to write to a soldier with words of encouragement. It might seem like a small gesture to you, but a note letting a soldier know that they’re appreciated will do wonders for them. Here are some great websites to help you start writing to soldiers.
Any Soldier is one of the first resources you should check out for writing letters to soldiers. The site has paired up with overseas military members who act as representatives for others that they serve with. When you send letters (plus packages, if you wish), they distribute them to soldiers who don’t get any other mail first.
On the Where To Send page, you’ll find a list of soldier contacts, sorted by date of last contact, along the left side. Click one to see some information about them, including where they’re stationed and how many male and female soldiers they represent. If you decide you want to support that soldier, you can request their complete address on the page.
There’s a lot of information on Any Soldier, though the site is a little tough to navigate. It’s definitely worth checking the FAQ pages to find out what types of items to send and answer other questions before you get ready to send a support package.
Operation Gratitude is an organization that sends care packages to troops, including new recruits and veterans. These packages include snacks, clothes, toys, and other items that soldiers appreciate. In addition, they have letters inside to lift the recipients’ spirits.
On the above page, you can register for letter writing and get a guide on doing so. You don’t have to contribute the other items in the package, making this an easy way to be part of something that’s much appreciated.
If you’d rather email a soldier than write a physical letter, this site makes it easy. It offers a simple form where you provide your first name, state, country, and email address along with a message.
Once you send it in, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach will print out your letter and include it in one of its packages sent to soldiers. This makes it a great way to let someone in the armed forces know you’re thinking about them without having to mail a physical letter or package overseas.
This service is focused on writing letters to soldiers in basic training. It adds a touch of modern technology to help it stand out.
Using Sandboxx, you write out a letter using your phone or computer, including a picture if you like. The service then sends the letter to your recruit with next-day delivery. It arrives on high-quality paper in an airmail envelope, giving it a premium appearance.
Every letter includes tracking, so you’ll know when your message arrives. And they can reply using the included custom stationery and return envelope. This removes the hassle of visiting the post office, buying stamps, and finding addresses to write to soldiers.
Due to everything it includes, the service is not free. Sandboxx charges $4 to send a single letter, but you can save by purchasing multiple letters at once. For example, $50 gets you 15 letters—dropping the price to $3.33 per letter.
If you’d like to commit to writing letters to soldiers for some time, give Soldiers’ Angels a look. The letter writing team is one part of its effort to provide support to troops.
Joining this team requires at least a three-month commitment where you write a letter a minimum of one time per month. Of course, you can write more if you’d like. Have a look at the Team Angel information page if you’d like to sign up.
This provides some important details about the program, including the fact that you don’t decide where to send letters to soldiers on your own. The company chooses who you will support. Additionally, you are required to report your activity monthly and recognize that you act on behalf of the organization.
You should make sure you know what you’re getting into with this before you sign up.
Best Military Pen Pal Sites Outside the US
We’ve focused on sites to write to United States soldiers above. If you live in a different part of the world, here are a few resources to write to service members from your country.
Those in Canada can use this official government website to write to CAF troops. Click Post Message on the page above to write a brief message (under 1,500 characters). It will then appear on the message board for service members to see.
You can use the View Messages link to have a look at messages that others have posted, too.
Australia also has a dedicated government page for sending mail to soldiers. This site advises you to email [email protected], which will pass your email onto those in the Navy, Army, and Air Force. You’ll also find a physical mailing address here if you want to send a postcard to the troops.
Write to a Soldier and Make Their Day
With these resources, you have everything you need to send a note of thanks and encouragement to military service members. It’s important to let them know they’re appreciated for everything they do. A simple note for you could mean everything to them.
Writing your first novel can be more daunting in life than actually putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. The untouched page is a frank sign of how much work there is to do.
In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott explains the writer’s dilemma:
You are desperate to communicate, to edify and entertain…to make real or imagined events come alive. But you cannot will this to happen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well just go ahead and get started.
Yet getting started is easier once you’ve done some initial prep work on your story; its structure, characters, and how on earth you’re going to get this thing out of your head.
That’s where these free novel-writing templates and worksheets prove handy.
This worksheet from Evernote is a simple way to outline the main characters, plot themes, events, and conflicts within your story. By teasing them out of your mind and onto a worksheet like this, you’ll be able to plot the broad story arc.
Remember to keep your descriptions specific and concise. This isn’t meant to be an entire plot description.
. But if you don’t use Evernote, this worksheet can easily be replicated in other programs, or on a sheet of paper.
This straightforward worksheet from The Novel Factory helps you to pad out your main characters. You’ll find yourself adding to, and referring back to this info, time and again as your character develops.
If you’re looking for a more linear approach to plan your novel, this spreadsheet from EA Deverell is especially useful. This customizable resource allows you to break down and describe each of your scenes so that you have a concrete plot before you start writing.
To start using this spreadsheet, open it up, click File then Make a Copy.
The Freytag method of planning out your novel sits somewhere between vague and extremely detailed. If that sounds like the approach you’d like to take, complete this worksheet from Duolit.
The model covers all essentials, without going overboard on planning. From the introduction of characters, through to rising action, and to the final resolution of your story.
This PDF from The Writers Craft will help you to flesh out important scenes before writing them out in your first draft.
With this worksheet, you’ll paint a detailed picture of an individual scene from your main character’s viewpoints. You’ll explore the sights, sounds, and smells of the situation to develop a vivid idea of what it is that you need to portray.
Writer’s Digest has a number of useful writing worksheets aimed at helping writers pen the first draft in 30 days. One of the most useful of these templates is the At-a-Glance Outline. This worksheet helps you to fill in any gaps and plot holes in your story before you come across them in the middle of your draft.
Working your way through this worksheet may be difficult at first, but when it comes to writing your novel, it’ll make things a whole lot easier.
This simple flowchart from Duolit will help you to figure out what perspective and tense you’ll be writing in. This is an often overlooked part of writing a novel, so having this pinned down early on will give you a good advantage.
Another template from Evernote, this chapter and scene breakdown can easily be replicated in whichever program you prefer to use. Once you’ve planned out your novel in more detail, quickly creating a breakdown like this is useful for easy reference.
This will save you time searching through your notes when you’re in the writing “flow”.
Another great worksheet from Writer’s Digest is their Climax Sketch PDF. This is where you will plan out the climax of your novel, “the point where the protagonist faces the conflict directly, with his goal on the line”.
It’s important you get this part of your story right, so spend some time on this to make it compelling.
Technically, it’s not a template or a worksheet, but given that figuring out how to end your novel will be one of the biggest challenges you face, this infographic is extremely valuable.
and introduce more interesting plot twists and character development than you might have otherwise.
There are plenty of programs for creative writers, but Scrivener is arguably one of the best. Case in point: this seriously detailed Scrivener template for outlining and structuring your novel covers everything you could imagine.
From character arcs, premises, abbreviated outlines, and character details, to props, areas for worldbuilding, planning out a series, and more.
If you’re using Scrivener (30-day free trial available) to write your novel, this free template is certainly worth checking out.
Other Scrivener templates you might want to try are:
These five free Microsoft Word book templates from DIY Book Formats (email registration required) are of high quality. And what’s more, they’ll save you tons of time wrestling with document formatting when you could be writing.
Each template includes paragraph and header styling, a cover page, footers, and page numbers, and comes in PDF, DOC, DOCX, and INDD (InDesign) filetypes.
For Google Docs Users: The DOC and DOCX files included in this collection can also be uploaded and used on Google Docs. You may have to slightly tweak line spacing, etc. but most of the formatting is retained.
Adding a new hard drive or solid-state drive to your Linux computer? You’ll need to edit your fstab file. A lot of people find the very idea scary. Yes, it’s critical that you get it right, but armed with the right knowledge, it really isn’t difficult. We step you through the process of editing your fstab file to integrate your new drive into your file system.
fstab, the File Systems Table
Although adding a new hard drive to a Linux computer isn’t too complicated, it can be a little confusing the first time you try. You connect up the hardware, power on the computer, and log in to the operating system. But you cannot see your new drive anywhere. Why doesn’t it show up? How do you get Linux to “see” the drive so you can start to configure it?
Actually, Linux has seen your hardware, but it doesn’t readily announce it. Or even give you a hint that it has found your new hardware. You have to interrogate Linux to obtain the information you’re going to need to put into your fstab file.
Here’s how to set up your new hard drive so that Linux—and you—can see it and use it. There are two parts to the process. The first part is doing some reconnaissance to identify the hard drive and to gather some information on it. The second part is editing the fstab file, using the information we’ve gathered in the reconnaissance phase.
Finding Your New Drive
We’re adding two new drives to this system. One is a 32 GB mechanical hard drive (HD), and the other is a 16 GB solid-state drive (SSD).
We need to know that Linux can see them, and what block devices Linux is using for them. In Linux and Unix-like operating systems, a block device is a special file that acts as an interface to a device that data can be read from and written to (unless it is read-only). Block devices often represent a mass-storage unit of some kind (for example, a partition on a hard disk or a CD-ROM. They are created in the /dev directory.
Name: This is the device name. Devices names that start “sd” and are followed by a letter represent SCSI hard disks. The letter identifies individual hard disks, with “a” being the first, “b”. being the second and so on. If there is a number appended, it indicates a partition. For example, “sdb2” would be partition 2 on the second SCSI hard drive.
Maj:Min: This column holds the major and minor numbers of the device. The major number indicates the type of the device (or, more precisely, the type of driver used to talk to that device). The minor number is a count of the number of devices of that type.
Rm: This column shows whether the device is removable or not. Note that device sr0 has a value of 1, indicating it is removable. This is a CD-ROM drive.
Size: This is the amount of data that can be stored in the device.
Ro: This column will show 1 for read-only devices and 0 for read-write devices. The loop devices are all read-only.
Type: This identifies the type of device. The “disk” entry means a disk drive, the “part” entry stands for partition, and “rom” means Read-Only Memory (CD-ROM).
Mountpoint: This shows the point in the file system at which this device is mounted. If this is blank, the device is not mounted.
In the screenshot above, you can see that the loop devices are all given a major number of 7 (meaning a loopback, or loop, device), and the minor numbers simply increment by 1 each time. loop devices are used with the squashfs file system. A squashfs file system is created each time an application is installed using the snappy package management system.
The SCSI hard drives are given names like sda, sdb, and sdc, and all have a major number of 8 (SCSI hard drive). The minor numbers are grouped in 16’s. The minor numbers for the first drive, sda , run from 0 to 15. The 0 represents the physical drive, and the minor number of 1 represents the first partition on that drive. For the second drive, sdb , the minor numbers run from 16 to 31. 16 represents the physical drive, and 17 represents the first partition on that drive. The next 16 numbers, 32 to 47, are used for the minor numbers of sdc , and so on.
Other common major numbers are 3 (for a IDE hard drive) and 11 for CD-ROMS.
Actually, the /dev/sr0 style for SDCSI CD-ROM drives is deprecated. The approved format is /dev/scd0. Despite that, the /dev/sr0 format was still in use on all of the machines used to research this article.
To de-clutter the output from lsblk we can use grep to select only the items of interest to us. We know we’ve not added a loop device, so let’s select all of the SCSI hard drives. we know these will have “sd” in their names.
lsblk | grep sd
This command will cause grep to print only lines that have “sd” in the. On our test machine, we see:
So, we have three SCSI drives. The first one, /dev/sda , is mounted at the root of the file system, /. The other two are not mounted at all, which is to be expected for brand new drives. We can see that drive /dev/sdb is 32 GB in size, which means it is our traditional mechanical drive. Drive /dev/sdc is 16 GB in size, and this is our SSD drive.
Actually, as this is a virtual computer, these are also virtual disks. So the SSD is showing up just like a SCSI mechanical drive. On my regular desktop my NVMe SSD shows up as /dev/nvme0n1, and the first partition on it is /dev/nvme0n1p1. Its major number is 259. Those differences don’t change what we’ve got to do in the fstab file, but be aware if you have an SSD, it isn’t going to show up as a physical drive.
Also, your drives probably won’t have a partition on them if they are brand new. You can use fdisk to create a partition if required.
If we use the -o (output) option with lsblk and add the ROTA (rotating) column to the display, lsblk will use a 1 to indicate a rotating storage device (mechanical drive) and a 0 to indicate a non-rotating storage device (solid-state drive).
lsblk -o +ROTA | grep sd
We get an extra column on the right of the display, which is the ROTA (rotating) column. As you can see, the “SSD” has a 0 for the device and partition. That makes sense because an SSD is a non-rotating storage device.
Mounting The File Systems
Before we start thinking about the fstab file, let’s check that we can mount the drives by hand. This way, if something doesn’t work when we use the fstab file, we’ll know the problem must be our syntax and not a problem with the drive itself.
We’ll create some temporary mount points in the /mnt directory. You’ll need to use sudo , and you’ll be prompted for your password.
sudo mkdir /mnt/scsi
sudo mkdir /mnt/ssd
Now let’s mount the SCSI drive on the new mount point. We’ll use the mount command in its simplest form. We’ll tell it the name of the partition we want to mount, and the mount point we want it mounted on. mount will mount the file system on that partition at the mount point we specify.
We’re specifying the partition that holds the file system, not the drive, so be sure to include the digit for the partition, in this case, “1”.
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/scsi
If all goes well, there’ll be no response from mount. You’re silently returned to the command prompt.
Mounting the SSD is just as simple. We tell mount which partition on which device to mount, and the mount point to mount it on.
To verify that the mounts have taken place, we’ll use lsblk again. We’ll pipe its output through grep and select the “sda1”, “sdb2”, and “sdc1” entries.
lsblk -o +ROTA | grep sd[a-c]1
mount shows us the three mounted partitions. That’s the two we’ve just mounted and the original partition mounted on /.
The partition /dev/sdb1 is mounted on /mnt/scsi, and is on a rotating storage device. The partition /dev/sdc1 is mounted on /mnt/ssd and is on a non-rotating storage device. All seems well.
Now we need to configure the fstab file so that these devices are mounted each time the computer is started up.
The fstab File
The fstab file contains an entry for each file system that is mounted when your computer is restarted. Each entry is made up of six fields. The fields are:
File system: Not, as its name would suggest, the type of file system on the partition (that’s what the type field is for). This is the identifier for the partition that should be mounted.
Mount point: The location in the filesystem at which you wish to have the partition mounted.
Type: The type of file system on the partition.
Options: Each file system can have options specified to turn on or off functionality.
Dump: A reference to an all-but obsolete means of backing up file systems, where the entire file system was “dumped” to tape.
Pass: This is the “passing” flag. It tells Linux which partitions should be checked for errors using fsck , and in which order. Your main boot and operating system partition should be 1, and the rest can be set to 2. If the flag is set to zero, it means “don’t check at all.” If your file system isn’t a journaling file system (such as ext2 or FAT16/32, for example), it is best to turn this off by setting it to 0.
These fields must be specified in this order, and they must have a space or a tab between them. Finding the values for these fields can be daunting, particularly the values for the “options” field. The “options” field options must be in a comma-separated list with no spaces between them.
The man page for each file system will list the options that can be used. ext4 has about 40 options. Here are some of the more common options:
Auto: The file system will be mounted at boot time, automatically.
Noauto: The file system is only mounted when you enter the mount -a command.
Exec: The execution of binaries is allowed on this file system.
Noexec: The execution of binaries is not allowed on this file system.
Ro: The file system should be mounted as read-only.
Rw: The file system should be mounted as read-write.
Sync: File writes should be conducted immediately and not buffered. Best reserved for floppy disks, if anyone is still using them. Incurs a performance penalty.
Async: File writes should be buffered and optimized.
User: Any user is allowed to mount the file system.
Nouser: The root user is the only user who can mount this file system.
Defaults: This is a shorthand way of specifying a set of common settings: rw, suid, dev, exec, auto, nouser, and async).
Suid: Allows the operation of the suid and sgid bits. The suid bit is used to allow a file to be executed as root, by a normal user, without giving the user full root privileges. When the sgid bit is set on a directory, files and directories created within that directory have their group ownership set to that of the directory, not to the group of the user who created them.
Nosuid: Do not permit the use of the suid and sgid bits.
Noatime: – Do not update the file access times on the file system. This can help performance on old hardware.
Nodiratime: Do not update the directory access times on the file system.
Relatime: Update file access times relative to the file modified time.
The “defaults” option is a good opening gambit. You can add or remove further options if some fine-tuning is required. If only there was a neat way to get the settings you need, in the order you need to enter them into the fstab file.
Enter the mtab file.
The mtab File
The mtab file is the list of currently mounted file systems. This is in contrast to the fstab file which lists the file systems that should be mounted at boot time. The mtab file includes manually mounted file systems. We’ve already mounted our new drives, so they should show up in the mtab file.
We can see the contents of the mtab file using cat. We’ll restrict the output by piping it through grep and looking at /dev/sdb1 and /dev/sdc1 only.
cat /etc/mtab | grep sd[b-c]1
The output shows the mtab entries for these two partitions.
We could lift those values and drop them straight into the fstab file, making sure there was a space or a tab between each field. And that would be that. The drives would be mounted when we rebooted.
There are two caveats to that. One is the mount point. We created temporary mount points just to prove we could mount the new partitions on the new drives. We’d need to enter the real mount points instead of our temporary ones—if they were different.
The second caveat is, if we use the settings from the mtab file, we’ll be using the block device file as the identifier for each partition. That would work, but the values /dev/sda and /dev/sdb and so on are at risk of changing if new mass storage hardware is added to the computer. That would mean the settings in the fstab file would be incorrect.
Each partition has a Universally Unique Identifier (UUID), which we can use to identify the partition. This will never change. If we use the UUID to identify the partitions in the fstab file, the settings will always remain accurate and true.
If you are using your new partitions as part of a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) system, check with the documentation for that system. It might specify that you must use the block device identifier instead of the UUID.
Open the fstab file in an editor. We’re using gedit, an easy to use editor found in most Linux distributions.
sudo gedit /etc/fstab
The editor appears with your fstab file loaded in it.
This fstab file has two entries already in it. They are the partition on the existing hard drive /dev/sda1, and the swap file system. Be careful not to alter these entries.
We need to add two new entries to the fstab file. One for the partition on the SCSI drive and one for the partition on the SSD drive. We’ll add the SCSI partition first. Note that lines that start with a hash # are comments.
In the “file system” field, we’ll use the UUID that blkid retrieved for us earlier. Start the line with “UUID=” and then paste the UUID. Press space or tab.
For the “mount point” field, we’re going to use the mount point we created earlier, /mnt/scsi. You’d use the appropriate mount point from your system. Press space or tab.
For “type” we’re going to enter ext4 , which is the type of file system on our partition. Press space or tab.
In the “options” field we’ll use the options that we retrieved using cat /etc/mtab. These are “rw,relatime”. Press space or tab.
The “dump” field is set to zero. Press space or tab.
The “pass” field is set to zero.
Now we’ll add the fstab entry partition on the SSD drive on a separate line.
In the “file system” field, we’ll enter the UUID that blkid retrieved for the partition on the SSD drive. Start the line with “UUID=” and then paste the UUID. Press space or tab.
For the “mount point” field, we’re going to use the mount point we created earlier, /mnt/ssd. Press space or tab.
For “type” we’re going to enter ext4 , which is the type of file system on our partition. Press space or tab.
In the “options” field—just to make the two new entries different in our example—we’ll use the “defaults” option. Press space or tab.
The “dump” field is set to zero. Press space or tab.
We can unmount our new drives and then force a refresh on the fstab file. The successful mounting of our new partitions will verify that the settings and parameters we’ve entered are syntactically correct. That means our fstab file should be processed correctly during a reboot or power-up sequence.
To unmount the SCSI drive, use this command. Note that there is only one “n” in “umount”:
sudo umount /dev/sdb1
To unmount the SSD drive, use this command:
sudo umount /dev/sdc1
Now we’ll use lsblk to check whether these block devices are mounted.
lsblk | grep sd
And we see that the block devices are present in the computer, but not mounted anywhere.
We can use the mount command with the -a (all) option to remount all the file systems in fstab.
sudo mount -a
And we can check once more with lsblk to see if our new partitions are now mounted:
lsblk | grep sd
Everything is mounted where it should be. All we have to do now is change the ownership of the mount points, otherwise root will be the only one who can access the new storage devices.
We can do this easily using chown . This is the command for the SCSI mount point:
sudo chown dave:users /mnt/scsi
And this is the command for the SSD mount point:
sudo chown dave:users /mnt/ssd
We can now reboot our computer with confidence, knowing that the partitions we’ve added will be mounted for us, and we have access to them.
Not That Scary After All
All the hard work is in the reconnaissance phase—and that wasn’t hard either. Editing the fstab file once you’ve gathered the information you need is a breeze. Preparation is everything.
Graffiti is something most people don’t have firsthand experience with. But it still looks cool, and who hasn’t imagined their name being written out in slick graffiti art?
Using some online graffiti generators, you can create graffiti of your name easily. Whether you want to create cool art without committing a crime or just write your name in style, you can do it with these graffiti creators.
This long-time graffiti maker bills itself as “the original” on its site. To get started, pick from one of the several graffiti styles, including Kodiak, Bubbles, Wavy, and Flava.
The site still uses Adobe Flash, so you’ll need to allow it to run in your browser. Enter your text in the bottom-left corner and click Create to get a template. Adjust the letter-spacing below this and pick a color from the wheel or RGB sliders.
At the bottom-right, you can apply graphical styles to your graffiti to further customize it. If you want to customize letters individually, click and drag them on the canvas. Above the styles box, you can also select individual letters to apply effects to.
That’s all there is to this graffiti name generator; get as creative as you’d like. There’s no built-in option to save or export your creation, so you’ll need to right-click the canvas and choose Print to save it as a PDF or similar. Alternatively, you can take a screenshot of your art.
The creator of this page is a full-time graffiti artist and illustrator whose work has been featured in many products. If you’re looking for more professional graffiti of your name, you can reach out to him for a commission at CustomGraffiti.net.
Note that Adobe plans to discontinue Flash after 2020, so this app won’t work after that unless it receives an update to use modern technology.
One example is the Graffiti Fonts collection on Font Meme. This collects dozens of fonts from around the site in one easy page. Plus, if you don’t want to download and install a font, you can quickly generate any text you like and copy it.
To do this, enter some text in the first box, then select a font from the dropdown below it. After choosing the font size, you can apply one of the many effects if you want to. To finish up, just pick a color and hit the Generate button when ready.
You’ll see a preview of the text appear below. Confirm it looks right, then right-click it and choose Save image as to keep a copy of it. Alternatively, right-click and select Copy to paste it into an image editor. The Embed button provides links to add your creation to your website or link to the image.
Here’s an alternate graffiti name maker that’s also easy to use. Enter your text in the top-left corner of the maker, then adjust the size, color, and gradient on the left side. You can even add a background image if you like.
To go deeper, use the controls along the top of the editor. Effects lets you add outlines, shadows, blurs, and similar effects. If you’re not feeling too creative, use Presets to apply a pre-made theme. Check the available Fonts if you don’t like what you’re using.
The major downside of this service is that it doesn’t update your graffiti name in real-time. You’ll need to click the Submit button to apply your changes each time. It will also display an error if your item is too large.
When you’re satisfied with your creation, click the Host this image button to generate an embed code and image download link. You can save or copy this image wherever you want to use it.
Thus far, we’ve looked at tools mainly intended as graffiti name generators. But what if you want to create virtual graffiti for the fun of drawing? That’s where Graffiter comes in.
This site lets you pick from a variety of walls to tag. Once you’ve selected one, you can use different drawing tools at the top for certain looks, like smeared or clean. Choose your drawing colors, and even zoom in if you need to.
After you’ve completed your masterpiece, the service lets you upload it to Graffiter.com for other people to see. You can peruse what others have added to get ideas for your own creations.
Graffiter is a fun way to live out drawing on a wall without fear of getting arrested. You’ll be able to make more impressive art if you have a touchscreen device, of course.
How Will You Graffiti Your Name?
These graffiti creators for names are a perfect way to create a fancy logo for yourself. Whether you want to add them to a website or just mess around for fun, they’re easy to use and paste into other image editors.
Today, about a third of U.S. workers have a freelance job. Some use it as a side hustle, while others manage the struggles and triumphs of freelancing full-time. But all of them face the same difficulty each year: figuring out freelance taxes.
One of the most-talked-about deductions for freelancers and small business owners is the home office deduction. However, many questions hide behind that simple term. What counts as a home office? Who qualifies for it? And what would you need to show in case of an audit?
We consulted a few industry professionals to get the final word on how the home office deduction works. Here’s everything you need to know to save a little more when tax season comes.
How to Know If You Qualify
If you work from home, you actually have a good chance of qualifying for the home office deduction.
As financial strategist Clarissa Wilson explains, “Most people think that the home office deduction is complicated and usually forgo having to do the calculations to get this simple deduction.” But the deduction is actually pretty straightforward. All you need to have is a space in your home that you use strictly for business.
That space doesn’t even have to be a whole room. If you have an office set up in some nook or corner of an existing room, that counts, too. However, it can’t be a multipurpose space. “It needs to be your principal place of business and be used regularly and exclusively in your business,” says Remington Trolli, who does bookkeeping and tax preparation for small businesses.
This means that your corner-of-the-living-room office won’t count if you also use it as a breakfast nook when you’re not working. And if you have a main office space outside of the home, like a coworking space, you likely won’t qualify for the home office deduction either.
It’s okay if you do some work outside of your home, but your home office needs to be your primary workspace to count for the deduction. Whether you rent or own your home, you can take this deduction—but only if you have a specific space used strictly for work.
How to Calculate Your Home Office Deduction
If you qualify, you can calculate your deduction amount in one of two ways.
The standard method is the more complicated of the two. “[It] requires you to total all home office expenses and report this amount each year,” explains licensed CPA Riley Adams. Basically, you have to figure out what percentage of your home is occupied by your home office. Then, you can multiply that percentage by the cost of your mortgage or rent, utilities, maintenance, and other household costs to figure out how much of those costs go toward your home office.
If you go this route, you’ll need to keep careful records of your household bills all year to do your calculations (and offer evidence in an audit). However, you can make life easier by using the simplified method instead.
In this method, you multiply the total square footage of your home office by $5 to get your deduction amount. For example, a 25-square-foot office would give you a deduction of $125.
“To see which method is more advantageous, you’ll need to calculate both methods,” says Adams. But if you haven’t kept careful records of your home expenses over the year, the simplified deduction might be your only choice.
Should You Take the Home Office Deduction?
The home office deduction is one of the easier tax deductions available to freelancers. If you have a dedicated space for business at home, and you do most of your work there, there’s no reason not to take it.
This deduction can also serve as an essential reminder of why you need to keep careful records as a freelancer. You don’t need to keep all your utility receipts in a file folder, though—try financial software like QuickBooks Self-Employed to make this easy deduction even easier. As a freelancer, every dollar counts, so don’t hesitate to take the home office deduction (and every other deduction you can).