Let me ask you a question. Who pays for your home office equipment?
The answer is simple: You.
It’s obvious, but when you think about what it means, it’s kind of a kick in the butt. An employer isn’t going to pick up the cost of your office supplies, so it’s all coming out of your own pocket.
Depending on your industry and whether clients will visit, it might cost you anywhere between $800 and $3,000 to create a home office from scratch.
The essentials include a desk, a chair, a computer and software. You might also need a printer with ink cartridges, a stapler, a desk calendar, sticky notes and pens.
But you don’t want to just snag a cheap Craigslist office chair that’s falling apart at the seams. Here’s how to save money on your home office without sacrificing quality.
Shop at the Right Time
September and October are the perfect months to hit up the stores for basic office supplies. School is in full swing, so stores are trying to get rid of their inventory on back-to-school supplies. You’ll likely find the best prices on smaller items like pens and notebooks.
Holiday sales and clearance events are great options for office furniture. January is a good time for most office furniture, as retailers clear out their inventory to make room for the new models many companies release in February.
For a new computer, you’re better off waiting until August, because competition between retailers rises as college students are in the market for laptops, and because new models typically release during the summer, so last year’s models will be on sale. If you’ll need an upgrade next year, set a reminder in your calendar.
Get Free Shipping
Shopping online saves you the trip to the store, and can help minimize impulse buys. However, the cost of shipping can really put a damper on things. Instead, save your cash by using one of these programs to get free shipping:
- Staples Rewards: Sign up to get free shipping on your purchases. You’ll also get up to 5% back in rewards, and you can earn $2 on recycled ink and toner cartridges.
- Quill.com: Spend more than $45 on this office-supply and furniture site and get free shipping. I also saw a pop-up for a $20 coupon for new customers, which could help you save even more.
- Amazon Prime: If you plan to buy lots of items online, you might enjoy Prime’s two-day shipping. If you don’t want to spend $99 a year (or your 30-day free trial runs out), just make sure your order’s over $35 to get free shipping.
Opt for Free Online Alternatives
Software is sure to take a big chunk of your home office budget. For example, the Microsoft Office Home and Business bundle will cost you $219.99.
Rather than splurging on a program right away, try a quick search for an alternative and save your cash for other expenses.
Don’t Buy in Bulk
Hear me out, here.
While it’s common sense that buying in bulk will save you money per item, first consider how much you’ll actually use. Sure, you could save a couple pennies buying pens in bulk, but what good does that do you when you really only need one or two pens? The rest will simply take up space.
While buying in bulk is good advice for businesses that use up office resources quickly, it’s not always necessary for a one-person-show home office when you’re just a one-person show.
Opt for bulk items when it really is something you use often, such as printer paper, but don’t waste your money buying extra supplies you don’t really need.
Your Turn: Are you building up your home office? What sneaky tricks have you come up with to save?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Lisa Stein owns FreelanceMom.com, is a college business professor and a mom to two growing daughters. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. Grab her free course: 10 Surprisingly Simple Step-by-Step Tasks to Get More Clients.