29 ways to save on home-office expenses --
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.
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.
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."
No. 18: Questions to ask yourself before buying, according to Horowitz:
this the best use of my money?
- How often am I going to use
- Is buying this the best way to meet my needs?
- Are there other people I can share the purchase
- Does the
product/brand have a good reputation?
- Is it well-made?
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."
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."
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.
Craigslist.com, freecycle.org and other Web sites allow local people
to place free ads giving away things they no longer need, says Foreman.
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."
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."