Office furniture will usually form a significant part of your overall budget for setting up an office. It makes sense to try to minimize what you spend in this area while getting the functionality you need.
The first thing you must do is to determine needs precisely. What items of furniture can't be avoided? What is nice to have but not essential? Plan to cut out the latter if you're on a tight budget.
Here are ideas for saving on each of several types of office furniture.
* Storage Having some form of organized storage is usually essential. However, it can be quite expensive. Brand new filing cabinets can cost you several hundred dollars apiece. Buy used filing cabinets from surplus stores, auctions and so on.
Alternatively, try using those storage boxes meant for keeping hanging files in. You can get them from office supply for as little as ten or fifteen dollars. There are also stackable storage drawers made of steel and fiberboard. They are quite inexpensive when compared to traditional filing cabinets.
* Desks You can get office desks in a very wide price range. If you want to save money, emphasize functionality over style. Avoid buying those computer desks. They are often fragile and way too small if you want to do any sort of paperwork.
Here's an idea - why not use a kitchen table as a desk? You can get a rectangular kitchen table at a far lower price than traditional office desks. You get a large desktop area that partly compensates for lack of storage space. Plus, you can add a filing cabinet or other storage under it.
* Chairs This is one piece of office furniture worth spending money on. Buy an ergonomically designed chair that offers good back support. That way, you can work for long periods of time without fatigue.
You can often find used office chairs in good condition. Be sure to check for wear and tear or damage that might affect the comfort and support you get.
* Desk storage There are good shelving units available at office supply stores. Plus of course, you can get used ones to save money.
Another way to save money on desk storage is to use storage cubes. You can usually find them in the kitchen sections of department stores. They are very cheap and give you the storage space you need.
* Computers and software When buying a computer, buy one with the configuration you need rather than go for the highest-end configuration available. You are looking for the functionality you need at the lowest possible price. Keep an eye open for sales. Once you know what you want, try to buy at a sale.
Look for deals where essential software like the operating system and office software suite are bundled along with the hardware. It usually pays to shop around when buying computers.
* Stand for printers and other equipment Using a separate stand for your printer and other equipment can free up space on your desk. While you can get a good printer stand fairly cheaply, you can also be creative and think of other options. For instance, use a drawer or an end table as a printer stand.
Use the simple ideas above and you will save money while having the office furniture you really need.
Mary West writes about workspace design. Her articles on office furniture include how to buy furniture on a budget , other money-saving ideas for furniture purchases and more.