You’re reviewing your business expenses for last month when you get to the office supplies expense line. Wait, you spent how much on supplies?

Looking at the numbers can be shocking. When you look at the cost of office supplies individually, they don’t seem too bad. But added up over time, they can eat into your company’s budget big time.

Little shifts in the way you buy and use your office supplies can help tame your spending.

Check out these tips for spending less on office supplies.

Track Your Expenses

Before you can cut expenses, you need to know how much you’re spending. If you don’t already have a detailed expense report on your office supplies, create one.

Are you overspending on certain office supplies? Does anything surprise you?

Use this breakdown as a guide for where you can cut expenses. If you spend a lot of paper, are there ways you can reduce paper use in the office? If your toner expenses are out of control, are there things you don’t really need to print?

Keep an Accurate Inventory List

Another important part of saving money is tracking your office supply inventory accurately. Do you really need more paper clips, staples, and tape, or are you ordering out of habit?

If you order the same things each month, you might be buying things you don’t need and wasting money.

Create an inventory list of everything in the supply closet. Create a system for tracking, and have your employees record when they take supplies. This helps you monitor the current levels, so you know when you actually need to replenish items.

Plan Ahead

You run out of toner only to find out you don’t have a spare in the supply closet. What do you do?

You have reports that need to be printed, so you can’t wait even a few days for toner to arrive from your usual vendor. You may need to buy a replacement from a local office supply store at a much higher cost than normal. Or you might decide to overnight the toner, which adds an expensive shipping cost to the purchase. You can use this free printer monitoring system, which will notify you when your toner or paper is running low, if there are any printer errors, how many pages have been printed, etc.

Planning ahead helps you avoid those urgent purchases. You can buy at the cheapest rate possible because you can wait for it to arrive. You’re also better able to budget for the purchases since they’re planned.

Shop Around

Don’t assume your current office supply vendor is the best deal. Even if it was cheapest when you started your company, things can change quickly. Explore other options, including online office supply stores and local suppliers.

When comparing costs from different vendors, don’t forget to include shipping costs. The products themselves may come in lower at one place, but if the shipping is a lot higher, you might spend more overall.

Look for vendors that offer business accounts and discounts for business customers. If you don’t see it advertised on the website, ask about it.

Comparison shopping can help you find the lowest price, but sometimes sticking with one company is best. Loyalty programs that offer discounts on future purchases or cashback rewards can lower your costs overall.

Buy in Bulk

Bulk purchasing almost always gets you a lower price per unit on office supplies.

Focus on supplies you run through quickly and use regularly, such as printer paper, pens, and toner. These are things that you’ll use eventually, so buying in bulk makes sense.

For less frequently used items, buying in bulk just takes up more storage space. You may never go through all of the supplies, or it may take years.

Go Generic

You don’t need the premium name brands for all of your office supplies. You’ll pay a lot more for the names on the packaging.

Many generic products are just as good and meet your quality standards. Compare the pricing to see how much you can save with generic products.

Just remember that generic doesn’t mean low-quality. Buying inferior products to save money may cost you more in the long run.

That cheap, low-quality toner probably won’t last as long as a better quality toner cartridge, whether it’s a name brand or generic version. That means you’ll have to replace it sooner and likely won’t save any money. It also won’t print as well, which leaves your documents looking unprofessional or smeared.

Research brands and products by checking reviews before purchasing. Look for generic brands or lower-cost name brands with good reviews.

Avoid anything with consistently bad reviews. The money you save won’t be worth the frustration and poor performance.

Cut the Need for Paper Products

Are you surrounded by paper products?

It’s not just printer paper that adds up. Things like mailing labels and sticky notes add up, too.

Moving to a paperless environment as much as possible can cut down your cost significantly. Not only will you order less paper, but you’ll have lower storage needs.

Digital document storage is one example of going paperless. But if you can’t cut the ties with paper completely, you can take little steps to cut down on your needs.

Instead of ordering hundreds of mailing labels, create rubber stamps online to quickly and easily prepare documents and envelopes. You save on storage space and reduce office supply costs.

Reduce Employee Theft

Not worried about employee theft? You may want to rethink things.

Statistics show that 75% of employees have stolen from their employer in some way.

That theft often comes in the form of stealing inventory from a retailer or embezzling money from the business. But the theft of office supplies can be a problem, too.

Employees may justify it as no big deal to swipe some pens, a ream of paper, or a printer cartridge. But that’s money taken directly out of your pocket because you have to replace it whether or not you realize it’s happening.

An office supply inventory tracking system helps you spot inconsistencies or supplies that run out faster than they should. Review all office supply orders if someone else handles them. This can help you spot an employee who is ordering extra supplies and stealing them.

If you suspect theft, locking the supply closet is an option. This forces employees to come to you to get the key, which discourages them from stealing.

Manage Office Supplies Expense

If your office supplies expense budget is out of control, make a few small changes to reduce your spending. Tailoring your business supply strategy to your needs and use patterns can save you lots of money. Visit our business and finance archives for more ways to help your small business.

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