Office Supply Savings

Perhaps the only benefit of the recession is that it’s given more people the impetus to become their own bosses. If your inner entrepreneur has come out of the closet, you’ve likely found it takes a major investment of cash.

Even if venture capitalists have got your back, it pays to cut back in on the small things, so you can focus financially on higher priorities. Office supplies are one expenditure on which you can easily save money. Read on for nine tips to reduce the impact on your business budget.

1. Printers
When shopping for a printer, consider all-in-one devices to avoid the additional cost of scanners, fax machines and memory-card readers. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the “Top 10 Best Printers” from PC Magazine and be sure to comparison shop both online and offline. Keep in mind that you may be able to do without a printer entirely since emails, documents and even airline tickets can now be accessed digitally via a tablet or smartphone.

2. Ink Cartridges
Though the price of the printer you found may be reasonable, the ink cartridges for that device may offset the initial savings. The average markup is a whopping 1,000 to 2,000 percent! The most important rule for saving on ink is to avoid your local office supply store and shop online. The upcoming launch of InkjetWilly.com will help you navigate ink prices and deals, saving you up to 90 percent over store prices on brands like HP, Canon, Xerox and many more. You may also consider generic brands sold for a considerable discount from stores like Staples.

3. Dollar-store Buys
Avoid the big boys and head to your local dollar store for small basics like pens, pencils, memo pads, envelopes, etc. This is also a great place to find thank you notes and gift wrap that will give your marketing a personal touch. Stay away from batteries, electronics, power strips and extension cords, however, since these cheaply-made products may actually damage your other equipment.

4. Warehouse Stores
You can save big time with bulk purchases of paper and other supplies at warehouse stores. Keep in mind that these cost-cutting caverns also offer good prices on shredders, office chairs, desks and other furniture, so scope out the deals when furnishing your office.

5. Marketing Supplies
Paper products like stationery and business cards can eat into your pocketbook, but they’re an absolute necessity. Use e-retailers like VistaPrint for seriously inexpensive versions of these branded supplies. They also offer savings on things like personalized magnets, invitations and more.

6. Membership
Membership has its privileges, including office supply stores that have clubs promising benefits and savings on a variety of products and services. Sign up to receive monthly specials and coupons delivered direct to your inbox or mailbox.

7. Build Your Own
Office furniture, especially desks, can be wildly expensive. I found that great deals on quality pieces from stores like Ikea which sell desks, book shelves and cabinets. The catch for the low price is that you have to build it yourself. Not handy? Recruit a neighbor or friend to help out in exchange for lunch.

8. Buy Used
Check Craigslist, your local Goodwill store or simply hit garage sales for great prices on used equipment, furniture, file cabinets and more. You can also find great deals at ArnoldsOfficeFurniture.com, which sells preowned, quality desks, chairs, and conference tables. If necessary, you can always upgrade later when the business really takes off.

9. Online Alternatives
When it comes to software and Internet services, there are tons of options available for writing, editing, file backup, group meetings, video conferencing and so on. Look for free alternatives like Polkast, which allows users to share files among several devices — like laptops, tablets and smartphones — so important documents are always accessible. Skype is another free service for voice or video calls among friends, family and business partners. Finally, CutePDF converts documents into PDF files for no cost.

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Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

Fitness from Home – 9 Tips to Get in Shape for Cheap

According to the authors of Freakonomics, people who purchase gym memberships overestimate their attendance by 70 percent. As a result, over $500 of the average annual cost of memberships is simply lining the pockets of gym owners — and doing absolutely nothing for your waistline.

If you struggle with getting to the gym every day, try getting fit at home for a fraction of the cost. Though you may not have the fancy equipment offered by fitness clubs, you can still meet your goals affordably by considering the following tips.

1. Buy From Gyms
Gyms undergoing renovations — or simply making upgrades to their fitness equipment — usually sell off their old stuff at killer prices. Call around to find out if any local fitness centers are currently selling old treadmills, stationary bikes or benches, or if they have any plans to do so in the near future.

2. Buy Used
Fitness equipment is definitely one of those items best purchased used, if possible. In addition to scanning Craigslist and hitting up local garage sales, you can also look for remanufactured options online at Wayfair.com. When buying from private seller, be sure to research the brand and test the equipment before agreeing to purchase it.

3. Shop Online
You can often find great deals on fitness clothing and accessories by shopping online. Compare promotions and avoid delivery costs with such sites as FreeShipping.org, which offers discounts from popular sporting good stores. For example, you can save $10 on orders of $60 or more with a FinishLine coupon.

4. Use Your Body
Squats, push ups, tricep dips and many other moves are all great ways to workout without the added cost of equipment. You can also get creative with items around your house. A chair is a great tool for step ups, tricep dips and decline push ups. Water bottles can be used in place of small hand weights and your child’s jump rope is a great way to burn calories quickly.

5. Suspend Yourself
Suspension training systems — which use a series of straps in addition to body weight — are a popular way to intensify home workouts without bulky fitness equipment. TRX is likely the most well-known system but requires a significant investment. GoFit’s Gravity Bar and straps offers an affordable alternative, and also travels easily for when you hit the road.

6. Go Discount
Discount retailers are great resources for basic fitness accessories like DVDs, yoga mats, stability balls, fitness clothing and more. For example, a friend of mine recently found yoga blocks at TJMaxx for $5 each. Similar blocks at REI cost $15 each, over 60 percent of what she paid for them.

7. Use Technology
Get free workout tips on your phone with apps like GymGoal ABC, which features 280 animated exercises and 52 workout routines that are adjustable to four levels of expertise. You can also find free personal training videos online at sites like BodyRock or FitnessMagazine.com. If you pay for cable, take advantage of the morning fitness videos available on Discovery Fit & Health.

8. Avoid Fitness Fads
Shake Weight, anyone? Products boasting quick weight loss with minimal effort are usually too good to be true. No pain, no gain, remember? Don’t fall for the hype and read reviews before buying the latest and greatest DVD set or fitness system. There are some great ones being released on the market all the time, but ask for recommendations first.

9. Check Your Policy
Like most Americans, you likely pay a lot for your health insurance premiums. Healthy policyholders means less risk for pricey doctor’s bills, and select health insurance providers offer incentives for fitness programs. Check with your provider for fitness programs that offer discounts on activewear, fitness rentals and equipment purchases.

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Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

Best Things To Buy in May

The theme for May best buys is “new beginnings,” since many of the deals cater to graduating students and newlyweds. Fittingly, spring often represents a new beginning and also plays heavily into the offerings.

Thankfully, you don’t need a diploma or a marriage certificate to take advantage of great savings. The Best Time to Buy Guide from FreeShipping.org recommends you be on the lookout for the following items in May.

1. Mattresses and Box Springs
New models of mattresses are released over the summer, making spring a great time to buy last year’s model for less. If you find yourself gravitating toward the middle of the bed each night or wake up with your limbs still asleep, it’s likely time for an upgrade. For tips on buying the right mattress, check out the Consumer Reports’ buying guide published earlier this month.

2. Cookware
If your meals are beginning to take on the distinctive flavor of Teflon, now is the best time to replace that peeling pan. Cookware represents a practical and popular gift for couples and college grads, making early summer the best time to stock up on essentials. You can often score extra savings with a coupon to Williams-Sonoma and other specialty stores by shopping online.

3. Refrigerators
Memorial Day not only offers an extended weekend for most 9-to-5er’s, it also represents one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year. Appliances are a “hot” item in the spring, especially refrigerators (though be sure to buy one that’s cold — bwahahaha!). Given recent headlines, you might find the best deals at Sears and Best Buy this month.

4. Party Supplies
Even if you’re not hosting a backyard reception or graduation celebration, you can still throw a springtime bash and save on party supplies at the same time. Disposable items like plates, cups and utensils are at their best prices in May, though you can always find a good deal on these items at your local dollar store.

5. Kitchen Accessories
You can find excellent prices on kitchen accessories during both spring and fall. Graduations and weddings drive deals at this time of year, and food-laden holidays beginning in late fall spur the need for the latest gadgets. In addition to department stores, be sure to check out warehouse stores for competitive prices on everything from mixers to microwaves.

6. Picnic and BBQ Supplies
Though people in the northeast would understandably disagree, spring typically represents the best time of the year to host an outdoor get-together. To entice shoppers away from their competitors, both merchants and manufacturers offer great deals on such BBQ necessities as condiments and grilling tools.

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FreeShipping.org is the largest resource on the Internet linking shoppers to free-shipping deals offered by over 4,000 online merchants.