It's easy to go overboard when you're at an office supplies store, like one of our five favorites, on a mission to stock up your workplace. You see products that you think will make you more productive or make you look more professional and get carried away. But because the cost of office products adds up so fast, you need to carve out some kind of strategy ahead of time. Here are five things you have to do to avoid overspending.
Know What You Want and Know What You Need
This is an important distinction. There are two kinds of office products: ones that you must have for your business and ones that would be nice for your business. Fill your cart with the items you need (pens, paper, paper clips, etc.) to start or maintain a business before you start eyeing the less crucial but equally tempting products.
Know When Something Special is Necessary
Man types of products are just as functional when they're $5 as when they're $50, but there are some that you might want to be top of the line. Sometimes it's worth buying a fancy pen so that you can impress clients when it's time for them to sign contracts, and sometimes a nice leather-bound notebook will make you more inspired to write out your daily itineraries. Look at your list of office supplies and decide what will pay more in other ways than they cost in cash.
Research Prices Online
Even if you're not an online shopper, it's worth spending a little time on your preferred retailer's website so that you can prepare yourself for the prices you'll come across in the store. If you commit to not making any impulse buys then you can even keep an exact tally of how much you're going to be spending. However you might not want to close the door on impulse buys altogether. That's part of the fun of going to a brick-and-mortar store, and you may discover something that will really make a difference to your business. Just keeping those impulses in check is key.
Set a Budget Beforehand
This is important for any type of spending spree, and especially for the kind of shopping where your cart fills up fast. Once you've decided what make senses to spend money on, you should set a budget reflecting on what you know.
Take Money Out of Other Budgets if You Overspend
The best way to keep yourself from spending too much money on one thing is to force yourself to spend less on something else. It gets harder to justify buying a pricey label maker when that means sacrificing a movie ticket you were going to buy that weekend. More likely, you'll settle for one that isn't super-deluxe but still gets the job done. By balancing the money you spend on office supplies with money you spend on something at least as important to you, you'll be less likely to tip the scales too far in one direction. By doing this and following the other four tips, you can walk down the aisles of an office supplies store with a little less trepidation.