Office supplies are entertainment expenses

Tell someone you’re heading for a casino and you’ll often get a piece of cautionary wisdom having to do with not losing your shirt. A specific warning that seems to come up a lot is, “Don’t gamble more than you’re willing to lose in an evening’s entertainment.”

The problem with that advice is that it makes you start thinking that gambling is an evening’s entertainment, and after grimly losing your set limit during ten unfortunate minutes at a blackjack table, it hits you: this is not entertaining, and that advice just didn’t work for me.

Which brings us, in a very unlikely fashion, to office supplies. If you’re a parent or know one, you know how aggravating it is when kids lose interest in costly toys they’ve begged their parents to buy. Part of the problem rests with the tendency of some parents to ignore yet another bit of wisdom: “Those kids like playing with the wrapping paper more than the presents.” This one’s true more often than you’d think.

With’s parenting correspondent observes that if you buy a kid a new coloring book and crayons for a plane ride – an outlay of about nine bucks, say — your return on investment or ROI will be minimal, as your kid will be too distracted to color. However, give that same kid a $1.89 roll of Scotch tape, and he will mindlessly keep himself busy, making tape sculptures and, of course, taping his nostrils as far back into his head as they’ll go.

Let’s scale up the expense a bit – consider a replacement cartridge for a standard ink jet printer. At around $25, we all know it’s ridiculously expensive. And it doesn’t feel any less expensive when a kid decides he needs to print out every last page from all the Web sites he’s visited during the last hour. However, think about the cost– if that kid has used 1/5 of the cartridge or $5 worth of ink, that’s far less than what a parent would spend on any toy, game, or activity if they left the house. So the next time you see a kid using up your pads of pricey post-its, remember: it’s an entertainment expense.

Image source: Metoc via Wikimedia Commons

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