1. Reward Savings Cards
If you shop at Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, or Best Buy sign up for their free reward savings cards. With each purchase you earn points that can be redeemed for discounts and will also get coupons in the mail.
2. Shop Online
If you spend $75 or more, most online office supply chains offer free shipping. Check discontinued and online specials before heading to the store. Online stores typically offer deeper discounts than they do in their walk-in stores.
If you order furniture from a walk-in office supply store you will have to pay delivery charges. If you buy the same furniture online from the same store, it will be shipped to you for free.
When you order online, Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max typically ship from local stores and you can usually get supplies and furniture (in stock) delivered to your office or home in 1-2 business days - free.
3. Discount Warehouse Stores – Beware and Compare to Save
Warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club may sound like a great place to buy office supplies on the cheap but you can usually find better deals at other stores and online.
Look for special buys at warehouse stores for the best deals. Items that are stocked on a regular basis are usually not discounted enough to warrant buying 5 cases of paper clips.
Costco only marks up prices no more than 15% (Sam’s Club does not publish their price structure) but that price markup is on what the store paid – if they did not get a great price, neither will you. You also need to pay an annual membership fee.
Remember, just because something comes in a larger package does not mean it is cheaper. Stores are notorious for charging more per unit or weight in “economy” sized packages than they do for the smaller packages.
Before you purchase any item in bulk compare the bulk price to the smaller package prices. You may actually find it is cheaper per unit to buy 10 small packs of 10 pens than it is to buy 1 box of 100.
4. Dollar Stores
Most items in dollar stores are junk and so “off-brand” you cannot trust the products (the same is also true for stores like "Big Lots.”) But dollar stores also buy up products that have been discontinued, have packaging problems, or were not selling somewhere else. They purchase these products from name brand manufactures for pennies on the dollar and these savings are passed along to you.
Making a special trip to dollar stores may not be worth the time and gas, but if you pass by one when you are already out shopping for basic office supplies, you might want to stop in and check for discontinued name-brand supplies. Just be sure to stick with names you recognize - off-brand products in dollar stores are usually so substandard that they are not even worth one dollar!
5. Get Free Stuff From Freecycle
The Freecycle Network is a grass-roots nonprofit organization with 4,674 local groups and 6,393,000 members around the world. Freecycle is a great place to get things for free, or to get rid of anything you no longer want or need.
Membership is free. To join, just find a group in your area and subscribe to an email list. If there is no group in your area, you can start one (again, for free) with the help of Freecycle moderators.
Although you are permitted to inquire if anyone has certain items, this is generally discouraged. Join a Freecycle list (for free) in your area and watch the list. People give away everything from shoes to computers to cars.
Another way Freecycle saves you money - forget paying a salvage collector to pick up your unwanted stuff - advertise it free on Freecycle. Chances are pretty good someone will take it!
6. How to Get Free Paper
Best Buy gives you a free ream of paper when you buy printer ink from them (you do not need a coupon). Sign up (free) for the Best Buy rewards card program and earn points and get coupons in the mail.
7. Buy Supplies without Paying Sales Tax
Nonprofits that are tax-exempt do not have to pay sales tax for goods purchased for their businesses. Take a copy of your IRS determination letter anywhere you shop for office and business supplies.
Your tax exemption applies to office supplies as well as business equipment and computers and any other goods that are used exclusively for your business.