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What begins as a few small office supply expenses can creep into a ledger of seemingly fixed costs that eat away at your bottom line. Many businesses are looking to end the year on a fiscally responsible note, so we’re giving you some new cost-saving ideas for cutting down on your office expenses.

How to save on office expenses

1. Get smart with utility bills

Utilities are often seen as fixed costs and therefore unchangeable. Utilities are also susceptible to cost creep, especially when you see them as excluded from scrutiny. To prevent wasting money on your utility bills there are a few ways to minimize this cost. 

  • Upgrade to smart outlets and timers that prevent energy usage when employees aren’t present
  • Cancel unused services like landlines or premium features
  • Prevent surprise spikes by enrolling in cost-averaging equal payment programs

2. Purchase supplies strategically

Your business likely needs office furniture, computers, and paper and printer ink. But you can save on these necessary expenses if you buy strategically. 

  • Bulk: Buying office supplies in greater quantities might be a larger price up front but saves you hundreds over time. Try teaming up with other small businesses to buy supplies from the office supply store in bulk for extra savings. 
  • Secondhand: Keep an eye on local marketplace websites and applications for going-out-of-business sales. Desks, filing cabinets, monitors, fridges, and other key office needs are frequently sold at deep discount. 
  • Older models: A computer or printer that is just one or two models out-of-date will often have all the features you need but feature a price tag significantly lower than the latest model. 
  • Sales: Watching for flash sales and special deals can pay off. The holiday shopping season, from Black Friday to the New Year, is a great example—several companies have already published their deals to help you plan ahead and save on your office needs.
  • Deduct: According to the IRS, you can deduct expenses that are ordinary and necessary for your business. From office supplies to utilities you can deduct much of your small business spending. Categorize these expenses appropriately and deduct them for maximum savings.

3. Rethink your office space

Rent or mortgage is second only to payroll for many small businesses. You may have more economic options for your office space that can save you thousands in the coming year, so it’s the perfect time to consider if your office space is working for you. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic more businesses than ever have made the shift to remote work. You might consider making the shift to permanent or partial remote work utilizing video conferencing to minimize the space you need to buy or rent. Not only will it save you money on real estate and utilities, but studies are showing increased productivity (a 47% increase, according to Forbes). 

You might be able to sublet office space or storage space to other small businesses or create coworking spaces that can be rented to the new wave of remote employees. Another great option is to share communal office spaces and equipment with other small businesses. You might need a printer or a breakroom, but it’s larger than you need. Share with surrounding or like minded businesses that can mitigate your expenses.

4. Set budgets for all office expenses

It might seem obvious, but far too many small businesses assume that their office expenses are necessary or small enough to go untracked. Instead, you can cut costs simply by putting a direct cap on office expense spending and cut out unnecessary expenses. Sure, you might need paper and ink cartridges for day-to-day operations, but by putting an explicit limit on how much employees can spend,  budget owners will monitor economic use of products and price-shopping. Cooperation and mindful spending will become part of your company culture.

Sick of over-budget spending? Divvy stops spending before it can go a single penny over your limit.

5. Outsource peripheral services

As your small business grows, you may begin to strain at the seams. Hiring for necessary positions can be incredibly expensive, so before you hire in-house accounting, consulting, lawyers, assistants, software development, or other key services it may be worth researching what an outsourced professional might cost. 

Outsourced services like cleaning, landscaping, couriers, consulting, tax preparation, or marketing can be more affordable than hiring your own employee or tasking existing employees with the work. As mentioned previously, you might save even more by teaming up with other small businesses to share the expense.

6. Negotiate prices, barter, or refinance

Don’t get locked into the perception that price is permanent. There can actually be a lot of wiggle room in what you pay for office supplies and services. By reaching out to companies directly you may be able to negotiate with vendors for lower prices or more favorable payment terms. Refinancing your loans can make monthly payments smaller and even decrease the interest you’ll pay overall. 

Barter or trade your goods and services with another small business to save more or get it (almost) free. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce or other small business organizations can help you pair up with other business owners or take advantage of deals specific to entrepreneurs.

7. Use a business credit card

Business credit cards are convenient for allowing your employees to spend on behalf of your company, but you can also use them to your advantage when it comes to office expenses. Utilizing a business credit card with cash back or points privileges can help you leverage the money you’re already spending. Some business credit cards are designed specifically to reward office supply purchases, giving a discount or double points for these expenses.

Not sure what type of business credit card you should be using? Check out our guide for choosing a business credit card.

8. Manage paid subscriptions

One common business expense category is subscription services. Many businesses suffer losses every month and focus first on increasing revenue and cutting expenses, but never look at the thousands spent on software as a service (SaaS) subscriptions that are redundant or completely unused. 

Run a quick audit of all existing subscriptions including the service, how you use it, how much you pay each month, when it renews, and any other related details. You may be able to cancel certain SaaS subscriptions that are unused or redundant, and using a virtual card can prevent subscriptions from extending or increasing in cost without your consent.

Take total control of your business spending with Divvy’s smart cards, enforceable budgets, and seamless expense software. See your spend today with a Divvy demo.

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