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:
- Printer paper
- Printer ink
- Sticky notes/index cards
- Manila folders
- Memory sticks
- Day planner
- Reference books
- High-Speed Internet
- Web Hosting
- Annual dues for writers associations
- Gas to attend writers groups
- 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!