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Twelve Ways to Cut Costs

If your Shed is its own organisation or charity that has to support itself financially to keep going, you’ll know all about raising money. Whether that’s through memberships, selling products or applying for grants. But what about saving money? Cutting down on costs where you can is just as important as raising money, and in some cases, you’re putting less pressure on the environment by doing so. Here’s twelve ways to cut down on your Shed’s costs to help you stay sustainable.

Buy things in bulk where appropriate.

If you need screws one day, don’t just buy the six that you need for the table you’re building. Chances are somebody else in the Shed is going to need similar screws next week too. Buying a mixed batch is often significantly cheaper and saves the additional trips to the hardware store. But be careful, don’t buy things you’re not entirely sure you need.

Track your spending.

Don’t just shove all your receipts in a box and count them up later. Keep an active spreadsheet or paper-based cashbook so you’re always aware what is being spent. It’s easy to be surprised when you look at the whole picture after a while. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a running record of what you receive and pay out, and how much is left. Update it regularly so it doesn’t become too big a task.

Take tea breaks.

If every Shedder takes a break at once from time to time, chances are you’ll only need to boil the kettle a couple of times and use a couple of tea bags between everyone. Kettles have a bigger draw on electricity supplies than most things and one humble tea bag has plenty life in it to serve a few cups!

Make cost cutting everybody’s problem.

Don’t take on everything yourself as a Shed leader or volunteer, or before you know it you’ll spend every session switching lights off that aren’t needed and making everyone tea with recycled tea bags. Discuss it at whole-Shed meetings and make a simple plan on the things you’ll do to cut costs.

Approach local suppliers for free training.

Does anybody in your Shed know an owner of a tool company, health and safety officer from the construction trade, IT specialist or accountant? Ask if they would provide training to key Shedders to ensure you carry the skills within the Shed to keep it going.

Seek grant funding to cover training.

At UK Men’s Sheds Associaiton, we encourage Sheds to earn the money to cover their basic costs through memberships and things like sales and to use funding for the added extras. Training for things like safe tool use, first aid and health and safety are things that could form a great funded project.

Ask for discounts.

Tell shop assistants about your Shed and what it does for men in the community and ask for a small voluntary group or charity discount. Many companies already have charity discounts, or give their staff the discretion to discount up to, say, 10%. Make use of UKMSA membership discounts with tools suppliers when you need them too.

Avoid buying business products unless you know they’re cheaper.

More often than not they are more expensive than general consumer products. Granted, this can mean better levels of service for business customers, but you should think very carefully about whether these are necessary to your Shed.

Cut back on unecessary utility costs.

If you only need to make three cups of tea then fill the kettle with three cups of water, avoiding any wastage. In areas with big windows, make use of daylight providing it gives safe levels of light. You could also consider investing in rechargable LED lights that use a remote solar panel. These are fairly inexpensive and you can get them from our partners with your membership discount. Do an annual check to make sure you’re with the cheapest suppliers. If not, switch!

Fundraise when the time is right.

If you’ve had your eye on a lathe or want to replace second-hand tools for better ones, this is the time to fundraise and save your income earnt from memberships and product sales to cover your ongoing, essential costs.

Cover yourselves.

Getting cheap insurance might seem like a great idea when you’re starting up, but it rarely is. As sad as it is, Sheds can be (and have been) broken into. All their valuable equipment gone. See our Insuring your Shed guide to help figure out which insurance you need and where risks might lie. Most importantly, tell your insurer everything and never miss out details. They can then advise accordingly. Good risk management is the key to more cost effective insurance, not cutting corners.

Don’t pay too much.

Do you really need that extra six months of warranty that costs more than half the product value? Retailers work hard to profit as much as possible from sales and often add extras that most consumers don’t need or even notice. Be aware of this and only buy what you’re sure you need. Use the internet to find the best price. If you don’t own a computer or smartphone, or not digitally savvy, ask somebody who is. Download a PDF version of this guide.

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