Office Supplies - Are You Spending More Than Necessary?

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At the end of each year, I go through my Financial Statements to determine where I earned and spent the business' money. The first year, I was shocked at the amount that went into office supplies!

I think we all believed the story told to us years ago about how computers were going to save us human time and paper. Well, that certainly doesn't seem to be the case. I spent a great deal of time using the computer which hasn't replaced me or anyone else as far as I know. And when it comes to supplies, the cost of the ink cartridges almost equal the price of purchasing a new printer! And I buy paper by the case.

Now my children were raised with computers and brag about the fact that they have a "paperless world". That's fine until your system crashes and you have lost everything!

Yes, I am from the "old school" and like to have a client file with me when I am in session. That means paper and ink and subsequently, filing cabinets. It also means, staples and paper clips and file folders and, and, and...

The list goes on.

The younger generation really focusses on being paperless. I'm just not there - yet. Perhaps it is because of habit or convenience. All I know is that it sure saved me to have a paper file when the computer crashed, and we found out that the backup hard drive wasn't working!

When you are starting or operating a business you need to recognize that office supplies are expensive and may, in fact, cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. On the other hand, if you decide to go "paperless" there will be times that you just might wish that you hadn't.

Also, your professional body may have regulations about whether you can use email or have electronic records because of confidentiality.

There is really no simple answer to the question of how many office supplies you will need and purchase in a year as there are many factors to consider. The things that are most important to ask yourself are:

1. What are my choices about how to produce and store records according to my regulatory body?
2. Can I have a completely "paperless" office?
3. What things will need to be printed and stored?
4. What is the least expensive way to produce and store physical records?

You see, when you have your own business, every penny that you spend really comes out of your pocket so it is very important that you are thoughtful about how you will spend those pennies.

Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email

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