Home       About Jill       Jill's Blog       Proposals       Extras       Contact

Monday, June 4, 2012

WSG 13: Saving Money on Supplies

Writer's Survival Guide 13: Saving Money on Supplies

All writers need writing supplies, but aspiring writers have an added burden. We aren't earning income to pay for the supplies vital to our work. Even published writers don't have the luxury of a steady income. Saving money on supplies is a must for most writers.

Here are my supply essentials:

- Computer/Laptop
- Printer
- Printer paper
- Printer ink
- Pens/highlighters/etc.
- Sticky notes/index cards
- Manila folders
- Memory sticks
- Day planner
- Reference books

Other expenses:
- High-Speed Internet
- Wi-Fi
- Web Hosting
- Annual dues for writers associations
- Gas to attend writers groups
- Conferences
- Back-up data (Carbonite or external hard drive)

All of these add up--I would tremble to have to shell out money for all of these at once! Thank goodness, I don't have to. My husband and I set an annual budget for my writing expenses based on my membership dues, web-hosting expenses, and general supplies. Some of these items have fixed prices--membership dues are what they are. But other things I can find deals on.

The first line of attack is to find a local office supply store. We have a Staples here in town. Find out if they have a free discount card. Sign up for it if they do. I get money back for recycling ink cartridges, and I check their weekly ads when I know I'm about to run out of something. Last year I bought a box of ten packages of printer paper on sale for $29.00, and it had a $10.00 instant rebate. That's a lot of paper for under twenty dollars.

Also, instead of using an ink-jet printer for printing out my novels, I invested in a small laser printer. It's a Samsung and it only prints black and white. The original cost was around $100. I waited in line on a Black Friday sale and bought it for $50. The laser toner runs around $60, but I found an off-brand company online that sells the equivalent for $30. I haven't noticed any difference in quality, and these toners last forever. I'm on my third toner cartridge in five years, and the printer does a great job by printing everything quickly.

If you're on a very tight budget, stretch your supplies by limiting the amount of paper you print. You can also single space your manuscript to use the least amount of paper.

For basic office supplies (pens/pencils, index cards, and such), stock up in the summer when the back-to-school sales are in full swing. I don't limit it to superstores, either. Staples routinely has weekday sales on special items, and you can get things cheap.

I'm blessed to have high speed Internet and Wi-Fi in our budget. If you can't swing it, head to your local library. Most have computers you can use. Around here, all of them have Wi-Fi too.

Most of my reference books I've bought brand new. However, when I wanted a book featuring maps of all the countries of the world, I couldn't afford the $100 price tag. Instead, I purchased the book secondhand through Alibris.com for $12 and a few bucks shipping.

What did I miss? How do you save money on your writing supplies?

Have a fantastic Monday!

33 comments:

  1. One thing I learned to do was edit on the computer instead of printing off every draft (which I did with my first novel). I'm a better editor now when I edit off the computer screen. I do, though, still have to print the wip every so often to read though it. It's a different experience when you do that, and I catch things I might not have otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I learned the same thing, Stina! I usually only print it off once, and it's one of my final revision stages. I always catch things I miss on the screen. Great tip!

      Delete
  2. Love your tip about Alibris. Great post, Jill!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've found quite a few reference books on Alibris. I do like to buy my books new, but it's not always in the budget for me. :(

      Delete
  3. I changed from editing on paper to editing on my Ipad. I send my documents from my laptop there. And I don't do memory sticks anymore. I backup online with my free Dropbox account.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, great idea! I don't own a tablet yet, but I'll keep that in mind! I use Carbonite, but I still back up all of my photos and final drafts on memory sticks. I'm super paranoid!

      Delete
  4. Like you, I use the Back-to-School sales for spiral notebooks at 10 cents apiece. I try to be eco-friendly and not print my mss. I'm OCD about memory sticks, so I buy them on Black Friday. Thanks for tips on the printer/toner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love, love, love 10 cent notebooks!! My kids use them too. They're must haves! Black Friday is fabulous for computer supplies!

      Delete
  5. You are so super organized! Love it. Thanks for inspiring me. I chip away at all of the above.
    ~ Wendy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not as organized this year as I have been in the past--trying to remedy that! :)

      Delete
  6. I don't own a printer. Isn't that crazy? I'm a writer and we haven't had a printer for at least two years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, when the kids got in school, I found a printer essential. I'm always having to print out school notes, papers, and even sports' schedules. :) When you find you have to have one, shop the Black Friday sales! (Also, August is a great time for sales too.)

      Delete
  7. Love this! Carbonite is a miracle, isn't it? I love that I can access the files on my computer from any other computer if I have to. And yep, I have a laser printer too. So much better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carbonite took all of the worries away. I lost 50 pages of a novel about 18 months ago, and ever since, Carbonite has been my best friend! Love it!

      Delete
  8. I have the opposite problem: too much stuff! I used to collect office supplies for teaching since the school gave us almost nothing, and now that I've retired, I have way more binders, envelopes, colored paper, hanging folders, etc. than I will ever use. AND I have three printers and two laptops since clearing out my classroom. I really need to get rid of stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm e-mailin you, girlie! Our family laptop died. If you're looking to sell, I might be interested! :)

      Delete
  9. Oh, if only I were a better shopper. I'm terrible about hunting sales for good deals. All very good tips. I'll be stealing several. Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're a super busy woman, Ayda! It takes time to hunt the sales!

      Delete
  10. This is seriously good stuff, Jill. I've got my eye on a laser printer, but haven't plunked down the cash yet. I think your post might have convinced to finally do it. Love Wi-Fi, too. It's one of the must-haves in my budget.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I highly recommend it, Melissa. Like I said, since I went with a black and white printer, my toner lasts forever, and I'm able to get cheaper, off-brand toner too. I can print whatever I want, guilt free!

      Delete
  11. What a great tip. Wish I'd thought of the cheap laser printer before I bought my ink-jet. Refilling gets expensive, and I've got back on what I print. We also have a copy store that does .08 per sheet, so I can print cheaply. I've learned instead of printing drafts, to switch back between word and scrivener to help me catch errors, and then I'll only print the later draft.

    I do need a budget for writers groups. I don't belong to any organizations yet, and I need to do it.

    Great post, Jill!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stacy, we have an ink-jet printer too. My kids need color prints for school projects. The laser printer is purely for my writing. Think about adding an inexpensive laser printer to your office if you like to print out a copy of your novel!

      Delete
  12. He he...I always consider myself an organized and practical person until I come to your blog. You have such great tips and I learn a lot! Sorry, that was a compliment, maybe it just didn't come out right :) Budgeting for writing expenses is a great idea. I use the library a lot, too, if I can find reference or writing books there. Or I ask for them as gifts. That's smart about the printer. I'm going to have to think about that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a nice compliment, Cindy! I haven't felt all that organized in a while. Packing up the house is helping a lot! :)

      Delete
  13. OK, I just have to ask - what was the map book you got? Both for school and for research, I'm always in need of good maps :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to say it was The World Atlas. It's a large, beautiful, color hardback book with maps of all the countries. Gorgeous! I just packed it away and it's currently in a box in our garage or I could tell you for sure. :)

      Delete
  14. Wow! I'm so impressed that you and your husband sat down and itemized all these supplies. I feel like I'm always flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to supplies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Johanna, I came up with the list and my estimates of costs. I just went over it with him when we do our budget--works for us!

      Delete
  15. When I print, I save my work to a different file (so I don't mess up my original) then I go in and set the page parameters to the teeniest margins and the smallest font I can live with. It greatly reduces the number of pages I need to print out.

    Also, before I print, I adjust my print quality to use less ink. I never notice a change in quality on my laser printer.

    My favorite supply is definitely the cheapie notebooks. Always in blue for some reason. I think it started so the kids would know which were mine, but now it is habit, I just buy a stack of blue for me each August. When my brain gets going, I can't type fast enough, so I sketch out my ideas in my blue spiral-bound notebooks. Then when I have time and am ready to flesh out the story, I just need to find my blue notebook. I'm not sure I could write in any other color book :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose, you and I are a lot alike! I usually single space my book and lower the font size too. It takes the page count down by almost 2/3!

      What a great idea to have your own color of notebooks! I never thought of that! I end up with a rainbow. :)

      Delete
  16. I'm an avid couponer, as well as a writer. A lot of the coupon blogs highlight deals for office supplies. When there were a lot of Staples Rewards deals and Officemax deals, I got a ton of paper for free.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you!