Monday, October 29, 2012

Simple Ways I Save on Office Supplies

As a freelance writer, office supplies can play a big part of my regular expenses. From the cost of paper and ink cartridges, to bigger ticket costs like printers and laptops, the amounts and costs of such supplies can vary from year to year. However, I tend to look at these expenses as just the cost of doing business, and in all honesty, as a self-employed individual, I can’t complain too much, since some small business owners experience much higher supply costs.

Still, that doesn’t mean that I have to resign myself to paying full price for such items and that I can’t look for ways to save. And over the years, I’ve found some pretty simple ways to cut back significantly on my office supply costs.

Ink Cartridges
For several years, I thought that I was doing well by using ink cartridge refills that I could get at office supply stores and that allowed me to cut my costs by more than half. I was typically able to get cartridges that would cost me about $25 brand new, refilled for about $10.

Eventually though, I saw one of those self-refill kits at a local convenience store. I wasn’t sure about the success of such refills, but I decided to take a chance and give them a shot. By doing so, I found that I could quickly and easily do my own refills for about a quarter of what I was paying before, being able to get four self-refills for around $17, which left me stretching my office supply dollar in this area even further.

Paper
Beyond ink cartridges, paper is probably the second greatest regular cost on my office supply list. As a freelance writer, you can only imagine how much paper I go through at times. Therefore, there are several things that I do to cut costs. First off, when doing things like printing for re-reading and editing purposes, I often use both sides of the paper, which allows me to cut my paper consumption in half. Then, I will often shrink the font, change to “landscape” page layout, and set each side of the paper to contain two pages, therefore adding even more words and additional pages to each side of the paper and allowing me to cut my usage -- and therefore, my costs -- in this office supply area even further.

Tracking for Tax Purposes
As a self-employed individual, I track and save receipts for all my work-related office supplies. This means that when tax season roles around, I’m better prepared for doing my own taxes and have the necessary documentation to give an accurate accounting of my business-related tax deductions in this area. Then I can use this amount on Schedule C of my taxes to help me determine my net profit after deductions from my work and in turn lower the amount of taxes I owe in this area.

Clips Rather than Staples
I rarely use staples any more. While they might not be super expensive items on my office supply list, staples are items that I still have to pay for and that I can’t reuse. Therefore, I’ve attempted to get away from using staples in preference of paper clips and binder clips instead. While it might only add a few bucks here and there to my office supply savings, as a self-employed individual, every little bit counts.

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