The cost of office supplies has dropped dramatically over the past few years.
A new survey finds that while the average consumer pays about $200 a year for office supplies like printer cartridges, ink cartridges, and paper, a whopping $800 or so is going into the pockets of consumers who need it most.
While the survey found that the average person spends $543 a year on office supplies compared to $2,000 in 2012, that drop has been even sharper in the last few years: in 2017, the average dollar spent on office products dropped by $1,500.
That means the average household has $3,600 less in the bank.
But that’s not all.
While consumers have a great deal of freedom in how they use office supplies in their day-to-day life, it’s not as easy to get them to spend their money wisely.
In fact, many office supplies are so expensive that they can actually cost more than they’re worth.
“A lot of the costs of office products are due to the fact that they’re expensive, because the company is paying for the materials and they have to pay for the labour, but that’s also what makes it more valuable,” says James P. Maughan, a professor of economics at the University of Toronto who studies consumer behavior.
“People think the cost of something is going to be a cost, but it’s really not.
It’s actually the opposite.”
He explains that a large portion of the value of an item is tied to how much people are willing to pay.
“What is the marginal cost of a good?” he says.
“In the long run, the marginal value of the product is going.
The marginal cost is the price at which the product makes money, and it’s a price that you are willing pay for.”
For example, a $100 pen is much more valuable than it was 10 years ago.
It has become a necessity for many professionals, but for most people it’s still more valuable to buy a $10 pen.
If you have a large family, you might be willing to spend $400 to $600 a year just for the pen, which makes it a great investment.
“That’s what makes the pen so great,” says Maugham.
“It’s really, really hard to get people to spend less than that.”
If you are looking to buy expensive office supplies and want to save some money, you need to look beyond the dollar amount, he adds.
If a product has a high price tag, you may be able to save money by purchasing a lower-cost option.
That way, you can still get a good deal but at a much lower price.
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“When I was buying a new office printer, I was going to spend between $100 and $200, depending on the type of printer,” says Mark Schulte, a marketing consultant who has worked in the IT sector for 25 years.
“Now I’m going to buy the cheapest option.”
The Cost of Office Supplies at a Discount If you’re going to go for the most economical office supplies on the market, you’ll want to look at the price tag.
“If you’re shopping for a $200 printer, it could be a $1-to-$2 million dollar purchase,” says Schultes.
“So it’s going to take a significant amount of savings to go from $200 to $1 million.
It really depends on what you want to buy.”
The more expensive a product is, the more you’ll have to spend to get the most out of it.
For example: A $200 office printer can cost anywhere from $2.50 to $7.00.
The higher the price, the higher the cost per page.
A $1.5 million printer could cost between $5 and $15.
“The price of a $300 office printer could be $25,000,” says Scott McBride, president of the Professional Printing Industry Association.
“Or you could go for a higher price.
There’s a big difference between a $400 office printer and $1 billion printer.”
But even when you look at products at a lower price point, there are some things that will still be expensive.
For instance, a desk fan can cost between about $1 to $6.50.
“For a desk that is used for office, there’s going on a lot of heat,” says McBride.
“You’re going through a lot more of the cooling, so it’s probably going to have a little bit of a price increase.”
He adds that a desk cooler could be up to $4,000.
“They might even have a thermostat for it,” he says, “which is going on around $1.”
The Price of Office Products at a Savings The difference between the cost for a desktop printer and a desk fans, for example, can