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29 ways to save on home-office expenses -- Page 2

Tip No. 13: Check going-out-of-business sales. They'll often have equipment and furniture that you can use in your home office. "When I was a purchasing manager, we once had 75 desks we were trying to get rid of. We sold them for a few dollars each," says Foreman.

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Tip No. 14: Stock up at back-to-school time. "You'll never find consumables cheaper," says Foreman.

Tip No. 15: "Don't think of it as buying stuff, but rather as accomplishing a task," says Horowitz. For example, he needed to connect two computers to the Internet. Instead of buying two Internet connections, he purchased one Internet connection and used a router to connect the two computers.

Tip No. 16: Bundle services and buy packages when you can. Horowitz has a $55 monthly phone plan that allows unlimited outbound calling anywhere in the United States or Canada, and includes voice mail and other perks. This is cheaper than even a low-cost long distance plan that requires him to pay by the minute.

Tip No. 17: Ask yourself, "Would I spend this money on a personal item?" Foreman says, "Business money doesn't feel as real as personal money. You need to use the same set of standards when spending business money as you do when spending your personal money."

Tip No. 18: Questions to ask yourself before buying, according to Horowitz:

  • Is this the best use of my money?
  • How often am I going to use it?
  • Is buying this the best way to meet my needs?
  • Are there other people I can share the purchase with?
  • Does the product/brand have a good reputation?
  • Is it well-made?

Tip No. 19: When comparing two sale items, look at the original list prices of your choices, says Horowitz. "If something was more expensive originally and on clearance that would be a better deal than a lower priced product that was lower priced to begin with. The quality of the object with the higher original list price will often be superior."

Tip No. 20: Use your home phone instead of a business phone if you can, suggests Foreman. This is much less expensive than getting a business line.

Tip No. 21: Know when to buy a product vs. a service (i.e., an answering machine vs. voice-mail service.) The product may have a higher one-time cost but be less expensive in the long run. However, the service may actually offer more value than the product. Horowitz suggests that when it's something that will soon need to be upgraded or will become obsolete, it makes sense to pay for a service or to lease the item. When it is something relatively stable, it's usually wise to buy the one-time product.

Tip No. 22: Don't forget all the costs of owning when comparing prices. A more expensive printer may use less expensive ink cartridges. Horowitz kept the costs in mind when he chose Internet fax service over a fax machine. "I've never been sorry. There's no cost of purchase, no inconvenience of the machine, no junk faxes, no monthly phone-line fee."

Tip No. 23: Don't overestimate the difficulty of planning and budgeting for your home office expenses. "You don't have to have an MBA to understand it," Foreman says. "We can all get this business concept."

Tip No. 24: Make compromises. Horowitz used to buy 100-percent recycled paper but lost his supplier. Now the cheapest he can find costs $75 per carton, while nonrecycled paper can be found for $25. So he settled on a 30-percent recycled brand that is less expensive than the 100-percent recycled but more expensive than nonrecycled.

Tip No. 25: Sometimes paying more makes sense, says Horowitz. "I've never been sorry I went from $20 a month for dial-up Internet service to $50 a month for broadband because it saves me 15 to 20 hours of time each month." But while he could save $30 a month on his phone bill by using Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, he's not yet convinced the quality is good enough for his needs.

Tip No. 26: Go online., and other Web sites allow local people to place free ads giving away things they no longer need, says Foreman.

Tip No. 27: Buy only what is strictly necessary. "I got the desk I'm sitting at today free," says Foreman. "My wife worked for an accounting business and they were going to throw it away. I'm still sitting at it 10 years later. I could afford to replace it but don't need to."

Tip No. 28: Purchase equipment used. "You can buy a 1- to 3-year-old computer used. That should be as much computing power as most people need, and you'll save a lot of money," says Horowitz.

Tip No. 29: Order what you need when you need it, recommends Horowitz. "Don't keep enormous amounts of inventory. It takes up space and becomes obsolete. You could use that space and money elsewhere." He tells the story of buying resume paper for the resume business he used to have: "I stocked up because the style was being discontinued. But then I stopped doing resumes for people. Now I have a lifetime supply of the stuff."

-- Posted: Aug. 26, 2005




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