Inexpensive Ways to Outfit a Desk or Home Office

Whether you’ve got children who have headed back to school, manage a busy home office or just want a nice place to sit and write out bills, establishing an effective desk or home office area is important. But it can cost a pretty penny, too.

I hate to admit it, but I’m a sucker for office supplies. It’s my weakness. I love having just the right pen. I enjoy surrounding myself with colorful and useful tools such as printed binder clips and fun magnets. You get the idea. I spend a lot (and I do mean a lot) of time at my desk, so I work hard to make sure it’s not only a place that functions well, but is also a fun place to be.

Fortunately, there are many ways to have our cake and eat it too. We needn’t fork out wads of cash to create a great workspace. And nor do we have to abandon comfort, style and fun simply because we don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to get it. So get ready to save your cash but create a great desk area too. With the ideas below, you’ll be able to build a great area that not only contributes to your own efficiency, but is fun to work in too.


Manage small notes and tack up small pictures by creating an inexpensive magnet strip. I’ve seen these particular tools marked up for as much as $15 each! Forget it! Instead, just get a regular metal ruler (or two or three depending upon how long you’d like your magnet strip to be). Then use either removable adhesive putty or 3M command strips to attach the ruler(s) to the wall. Grab a few fun, inexpensive magnets and you’re all set.

Find and print your own calendars and/or planner refills online. I know many people out there have tossed their paper calendars and day planners in favor of electronic gadgets, but not I. It may seem archaic, but I like the tactile experience of having a paper planner. But, frankly, this can get expensive. If you’re like me, join me entirely and start printing your own refills. Try About.comor to get started for free!

Skip the expensive and boring pencil holder and utilize a beautiful mug or glass instead. Inspire yourself visually and save money all at the same time by taking a trip to a local thrift store to find a pretty or fun mug or glass for a dollar or two instead of spending $8 plus on a cheapy, boring plastic option.

Empty egg cartons can make great frugal and earth-friendly desk drawer organizers for storing push pins, paper clips, binder clips and rubber bands.

Empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls can be slit down one side and used to wrap around, organize and hide ugly cords.

Opt to purchase inexpensive clear vinyl by the yard for use as desktop protector rather than purchasing a pre-made and packaged one at an office supply store. Sheet vinyl can be purchased by the yard inexpensively at many craft, fabric and even hardware stores. You may have to trim it yourself a bit, but you’ll save a ton of money, get it just the right shape and size you need and often get better quality too!

Photo credit: Theis Kofoed Hjorth

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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