Smartly saving money in a business, whether a startup or an established venture, is always a good idea. For example, smart real estate shopping helped one restaurant chain save 25 percent on expansion costs.

But there are smaller ways to save money that can apply at any time. Here are five classics that will put more money back into your pocket.

Play cell carriers off each other

Cell carriers hate churn. Whenever they lose customers, they have to get replacements and there are only so many people out there. The system is ripe for negotiation. Shop around for the deals other carriers will provide to get you to switch. Then you can go back to your carrier, ask for retention services, and see what they will offer. Here's a hint: You may be able to get really good deals on new phones that are a model or two back from the currently advertised, lower your monthly costs, or, more likely, get more data for the same money. Of course, if you don't use all your data now, adding more may be meaningless and a false improvement.

Check those credit card deals

There are plenty of perks you'll see offered for credit cards, whether cash back or points that can ultimately be redeemed for something. Remember that no matter what you pick, the credit card issuers know that, on the whole, people will pay more in interest than they get in return. You don't have to be in the herd, but to make the special deals pay you have to know the conditions they require. For example, the no-interest-for-12-months concept is fine unless you're late with even one payment, in which case interest kicks in. A big block of points on starting a new card probably requires you to charge a certain amount of purchases within a given amount of time, like two or three months. Make sure you fulfill the conditions so you get what you want without having to pay more than you need.

Reconsider equipment upgrades

I've seen people get itchy for the next new phone or computer or what have you that comes around. Every time you spend money on something new, you're reducing your net income. Generally, older equipment will work perfectly fine. A PC can easily last 5 to 7 years and a smartphone usually has much more life in it that people expect. The upgrade drumbeat is the strategy of companies that want to make more money off consumers over time.

Give up the "my time is worth more" argument

You often hear people comment on the value of an hour of their time and how it always makes sense to have others do things instead. There is some truth to it. When a business grows, eventually you need to offload work because the supervision and management task becomes larger. But people often make this argument too early on more because they don't want to do what they'd prefer not to. Convenience doesn't necessarily pay the way people would like to think. Always ask yourself if you really are giving up an opportunity to make more money than they task costs to do. If you are, or if you're so drowned in work activities that you have no time for any other parts of your life, then by all means offload. If not, consider doing it yourself and pocketing the savings.

Double check your tax deductions

Lots of business owners fail to take the full set of tax deductions to which they're entitled, and the amounts to be saved can be significant. For example, I've heard of a case where a business owner would pay one of her kids, who was getting a second degree in his field, to do work for her. The work was associated with the kid's existing expertise and some consulting he had done. So, she could effectively deduct the full tuition, far above the normal limit on college costs, off the top of the business, reducing Social Security liability and apparent profits. The son paid for school and, because the extra degree was in his existing field, could deduct the tuition as a business expense in his consulting. The result was a tiny total tax impact. But you don't have to be convoluted. Make sure you deduct the professional fees and memberships, materials, home office (if applicable), and other legitimate expenses.

Published on: Oct 25, 2016
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