How many times have you looked around the office and made a mental list of all the new supplies needed? At first, the list doesn’t seem too long, but as you start pricing items the total keeps adding up. Pretty soon you’re making cuts to the list and hoping your old file folders will last as long as possible.
We’ve created a source to help you make an office supply budget, find affordable office supplies, and count office supplies as tax deductibles.
How to Create an Office Supply Budget
Creating an office budget is dependent on the needs and income of each individual company. However, we have some general tips for creating an office supply budget. Alter these as needed to create the most functional and effective office supply budget for your business.
1. Create a list of all the office supplies your office uses.Some of these items will be consumables that need to be restocked every month, such as copy paper; others might be replaced every six months, such as toner. Fixed cost items, like furniture or copy machines, might be rare or one-time purchases. Regardless, list everything and how often you need to restock. Here is our basic office supplies checklist in case you need some help getting started.
2. Make a spreadsheet or use office budgeting software to compile anticipated costs.Start pricing out the items in your list, including both fixed and recurring costs. Refer to your accounting records to determine what you currently spend on specific office supplies, as well as any new items you anticipate needing in the coming year.
3. Weed out all unnecessary spending.While things like recurring software fees are necessities, there are plenty other areas of unnecessary expenses or overspending. Maybe you’re buying too much coffee every month or splurging on brand name items where you could switch to more affordable “off brand” options. Since you have all the information from the company’s spending in front of you, this is a great time to make potential cuts or alterations to your company’s office supply budget.
As you make an office supply list, determine the supplies that aren’t being used. There may be items being consistently restocked despite an excess of them in inventory. After you’ve made your list, go back through and delete items that aren’t worth purchasing again.
4. Determine an average monthly spend.To determine an average monthly budget for office supplies, add up the costs and divide your annual anticipated office supply cost by 12. Knowing this number will help you stay on track from month to month. In general, the average cost of office supplies for a small businessranges from $77 to $92 a month. While this a good standard, don’t feel pressure to match it; the amount you budget for office supplies will be determined your unique business size, type, and overhead budget.
5. Analyze monthly cost per employee.You can calculate the average cost of office supplies per employeeby dividing the total monthly cost of office supplies by the number of employees. It’s important to understand your average cost of office supplies per employee to help determine how office supply costs will increase or decrease as your staff numbers grow or shrink.
6. Finalize your budget and refine as you go. Attach both annual and monthly budgeted amounts to each line of your budget. It’s wise to round up slightly from each of your actual projected costs in order to cover unanticipated price increases, taxes, etc. As the months go by, track your spending in each category and calculate the difference of actual spending to your budgeted amount each month. Make notes where you’re over- or under-spending and think of your new budget like a living document. You should tweak and refine your budget by adding to or subtracting from the amount allotted to create the most profitable and sustainable budget for your business that allows for your team’s needs, while keeping spending on track.
Here are a few budgeting software options designed to help you save time and money by tracking your finances with colorful, easy-to-understand charts and graphs.
While these tips might be helpful for your business, every company is different. Tweak them to fit the needs of your company.
Where to Find Affordable Office Supplies
Even if you have budgeted a substantial amount for your office supplies, who doesn’t like finding a good deal? Shopping online is one of the best ways to snag low prices, so we’ve compiled some places to find cheap office supplies online. It’s overwhelming to scroll through pages and pages of supplies to find what you’re looking for. Instead, here are a few links to specific types of supplies so you can quickly find exactly what you need. This will hopefully help as you restock your office supply checklist, plan out your office supply budget, and compile resources for your office.
Most offices use a significant amount of consumable products, which are items intended to be used up and then replaced – such as paper, envelopes, and pens. There are a number of ecommerce sites selling a variety of office supplies from all different brands. Here are a few reliable sources where you can find discounted offices supplies online:
Furniture and Storage
Furniture and storage are essential to your office but it’s easy for them to get pricey. Check out these sites for office affordable furniture.
Mail and Shipping Supplies
If you’re looking for a deal on shipping supplies, here are a few places we would recommend.
For more information on the best packaging materials, check out this additional resource.
Having tools around the office to promote collaboration is important to creating a strong team. If you need creative ideas for your corkboards, check out this resource for making the best bulletin board.
- School Outfitters for whiteboards
- Blue Summits Supplies for whiteboards
- Blue Summit Supplies for corkboards
- Global Industrial for corkboards
If you plan to put whiteboards around your office, you’ll need some whiteboard makers and some good materials for cleaning them. If you put up corkboards, you’ll need some thumbtacks, too.
Here are some sources about the best whiteboard markersand how tobuy the best whiteboards.
Cleaning Supplies, Kitchen Tools, and Safety Equipment
We consider food and caffeine crucial to the office, so having a designated kitchen area is a must. Keep paper towels, sugar, and plastic utensils in one area so your employees can use them when needed. Here are some sites for breakroom supplies.
You don’t want to mix chemicals with food, so if you do keep your cleaning supplies near your kitchen area, keep them confined to a cabinet. You can also set aside a specific area just for cleaning supplies. Here are a few sites that offer kitchen and cleaning supplies at a discounted rate.
Keeping safety equipment around the office is a required by OSHA. Here are some sites where you can buy safety equipment for your office without breaking the bank.
- MFASCO sells affordable first aid kids perfect for the office.
- Amazon sells quality flashlights you can buy for your office in case of an emergency.
- WebstaurantStore sells commercial fire extinguishers.
10 lb. ABC Fire Extinguisher – Model B441is the top recommended fire extinguisher for 2019. It’s a heavy-duty fire extinguisher which will prepare you for any fire. If you’re interested in learning more about the pros and cons of different fire extinguishers, check out this buyer’s guide.
Decorating your office isn’t a necessity, but working in a cohesively decorated space can stimulate and encourage productivity. Luckily, decorating on a budget is possible. Here are some places you can find discounted office décor online to make your office more beautiful and productive.
Try going to your local thrift stores or looking for décor on the clearance aisle. If you find something not quite right but for the right price go ahead and buy it. You can always spice it up with a little paint.
Office Expense vs Office Supplies
Let’s make some important distinctions.
Office expenses are costs directly affiliated with the operations of a company. This might include costs such as WIFI, digital filing systems, or rent. Office supplies are items used around your office, items like folders, envelopes, ink, or desk chairs. While it may seem that office expenses are more essential to a business, both are considered pertinent to a company’s operation.
Office Supplies as Tax Deductions
You can use both office expenses and office supplies as tax deductions. Tax deductions are helpful because they lower the amount of taxable income. Classifying office supplies as tax deductions will benefit your company’s finances. The IRS allows you to deduct any expense that is ordinary, necessary, reasonable, and documented.
Ordinary: Any expenditure that falls into the natural flow of your business.
Necessary: The expenditures necessary for the company’s operation.
Reasonable: This category isn’t specifically defined but is dependent on each individual company.
Regardless of whether your expenses are ordinary, necessary, or reasonable, they always need to be documented with a receipt or an invoice so you can prove it was for company purposes. Whatever your expenditure is, document as much information as possible on each expense.
Examples of documentation:
- Travel, transportation, entertainment, Gift Expenses
- Employment taxes
Most office supplies fall under one of the categories above. As long as you keep track of your office purchases and document them, you’re all set to apply for tax deductibles.
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