officesuppliesFour Tips for Saving Money on Office Supplies


Office supplies, from printer cartridges to pens and paper clips, are an expense that church administrators often take for granted and seldom keep under control. Industry estimates show that the average church office consumes at least $500 worth of office products each year. Even in today’s economic environment, gaining control of these expenses is not difficult.

Purchase by catalog or online
The advent of office product big-box stores has led many small business people to shop grocery-store-style for their supplies. Contrary to popular perception, this is a tremendous waste of time and money. It has been estimated that the average shopper spends about 20 minutes driving to the store, 45 minutes in the store, and of course another 20 minutes returning to the office. This totals one hour and 25 minutes of lost productive time. Moreover, an additional 17 percent of the bill is spent on unplanned impulse purchases.

A better way to shop is by catalog or online. Similar discount prices are available through national catalog retailers on the same name-brand products. Some of these catalog retailers deliver for free. Shopping by catalog also curtails the number of impulse purchases made.

Don’t pay hidden extra charges
Many office vendors offer low prices, then hit the customer with processing, shipping, or handling charges. Make sure that you aren’t taken in. You can find the same products at similar or lower prices without the extra charges. Also, be sure to look for vendors who offer toll-free phone and fax numbers.

Look for overall savings, not loss leaders
No office products vendor is going to beat its competitors every time. Each dealer offers extra-low prices on certain items in order to get customers. Don’t be lured in by short-term savings on one item. Save money on your overall bill by selecting a vendor that offers lower overall prices.

Monitor and control your spending
Finally, track your office products purchases by item and quantity. Only by knowing what you buy, in what quantity, and how often, can you gain full control of your office supply expenses.

Answering these questions allows you to make decisions about when it makes sense to buy in bulk, when you are buying too much of one item, or when you are spending too much money. An easy way to get this information is to shop online. Online shopping generally allows you access to historical information about your previous orders, including item price, quantity, and your total order amount.

Using these guidelines will quickly give you control over your office supply expenses. More importantly, they will save you time – your most important resource.