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3 Ways to Get the Equipment You Need Without Going Broke

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3 Ways to Get the Equipment You Need Without Going Broke

By BarbaraWeltman, Guest Blogger
Published: April 12, 2012 Updated: January 9, 2013

Need a new desk? A file cabinet? Machinery? A truck? Instead of simply buying a brand new item from your local dealer, consider some alternative ways to get what you need for little or no money. Here are three strategies to help you.

1. Buy used or last year’s models

You don’t necessarily have to buy a spanking new car or the latest tablet. You may be able to satisfy your needs by looking for a pre-owned car, a reconditioned machine, or a refurbished laptop. A slightly slower tablet, such as the previous version of the iPad, may do the trick, at considerably less cost. Think about what you need the item to do and then hunt down the best deal available.

When buying a used item, look for a guarantee or a warranty so you have recourse if something goes wrong. Legally, they are essentially the same thing; both protect the consumer.

You can shop for pre-owned vehicles at dealerships and online. Find used office furniture and other business items by searching online for dealers that specialize in used items.

2. Buy from the government

You may be able to buy a new or used item at a big cost savings if you buy items that the government no longer needs (used or surplus) or has seized from criminals. Local, state, and federal agencies routinely hold sales of various items. Some are sold at auction, others at a fixed price.

Learn the steps you’ll need to take in order to participate. Each agency has its own rules and regulations. Some sales require you to appear in person and be ready to pay in cash for the items you buy. Other sales are conducted online. The U.S. Treasury, for example, holds about 300 auctions annually. You can search online for what it is selling, but you must appear in person to be a buyer.

Helpful sites to get you started include:

  • *GovDeals lists items by category (e.g., janitorial equipment, office equipment and supplies, and light duty trucks).
  • *GovernmentAuctions.org to find the location of auctions near you.
  • USA.gov for general information about government sales and auctions.

3. Barter

Barter is the oldest form of commerce and is still a viable option today. It’s been estimated that 65% of Fortune 500 companies do bartering, which means exchanging goods and services. You can make a swap directly with another party. For example, you are a web designer and help your local electrician with his site in exchange for new wiring at your office.

You can also use a barter exchange through which you offer your wares to accumulate credits that can be used to obtain items you need; direct swaps need not be arranged. For example, you can exchange your excess inventory through a barter exchange and use your credits whenever you need something for your business that’s available through the exchange. When joining an exchange, check for membership fees and transaction costs. Search for a local barter exchange through the *National Association of Trade Exchanges.

The chief advantage to bartering is the positive impact it has on cash flow; you don’t need to spend your cash to get what you want. Ancillary benefits include a venue to dispose of excess inventory and connecting with new customers. While the trades are cash-free, sales tax must still be paid where applicable.

Bartering can save you cash, but it won’t save you taxes. If you barter in business, you are treated as making a taxable exchange and must report the fair market value of what you receive as income. Find out more about bartering and taxes from the IRS’ Bartering Tax Center.

Final thought

Be prepared to put in more time and effort to be a savvy buyer. But being frugal can pay off by helping you to increase your bottom line.

*Denotes a non-government site

About the Author:

Barbara Weltman

Guest Blogger

Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes, J.K. Lasser's Guide to Self-Employment, and Smooth Failing as well as a trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® and host of Build Your Business Radio. She has been included in the List of 100 Small Business Influencers for three years in a row. Follow her on Twitter: @BarbaraWeltman.

Comments:

Great article and review of different ways to get the equipment you need cheaply! Thanks! :-)
It is true that you can save lots of money by opting to buy a used car oppose to a new one. After just one year of use, a new car is worth only 70% of its original value. This is a massive reduction, and one that can save you a lot of money if you are willing to drive that 2013 model instead of the overpriced 2014 model!
This is very beneficial and helpful blog for everyone. I hope we can get more profit from here. Thanks for sharing with us.
Buying Ice Machines can be very difficult. At IceMachinesPlus we simplified the process. With our knowledgeable staff and years of experience we can help you pick out the correct ice machine. Did you know that 65% of ice machine owners have the wrong Ice Machine. Don't just buy an Ice Machine! Visit: This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
Buying used equipment can save lots of money in the beginning. However with some pieces of equipment it may be a wiser decision to go with something that is brand new or fairly brand new with a good warranty. Ice machines are known for being problematic and can sometimes drastically affect operations. Ice machines can be leased and the leasing companies are required to fix any problems. So that is sometimes the best option for small restaurants limited to a startup budget.
Buying second hand is always a good idea. I have had good results by not trading in a old used car but negotiate a extra discount and sell the trade in yourself.
Leasing equipment is also an option. This allows you to pay for your equipment over time rather than having a large up-front cash expense as you start your business.
Bartering can be a great way for start-ups to get equipment without having to have the cash or credit. Sometimes, businesses need equipment temporarily or very infrequently, so it doesn't make sense to purchase an expensive piece of machinery. Trading for short-term use could also be an option. There are several websites that make finding people to barter with easier. Some include This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices (http://www.sba.gov/community) for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
Buying second-hand materials or simply those items that are slightly used is a good idea of using money wisely, hence it needs stringent precautionary measures and careful examination. One should know the current condition of the item before purchasing it. This could be done through having a test.
Bartering is what something you can follow when you have a shared office also.

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