Unexpected Expenses That Hurt at the End of the Year

Why is it that when that end-of-year report comes around, there’s this feeling of dread, even after careful budgeting? It’s just like the feeling of getting your report card at the end of term, and even though you’ve studied, there’s this sense of nagging worry that you’ve somehow forgotten to account for something. With all the expenses that an organization can incur, it’d certainly be ambitious to think you can control all of them. With that said, we’ve polled a few people from our industry, with the intention of presenting five oft-forgotten expenses which can really pile up by the end of the year. Control your expenses, don’t let them control you!


1. Subscriptions

There’s nothing quite so painful as seeing the charge for a yearly subscription that’s barely used. According to a recent study, the average work computer contains $259 worth of unused software. From software licences, to industry associations, to magazines, subscription-based products and services sometimes bank on being forgotten about. Sometimes it’s something as simple as realizing that you paid for an Adobe licence for an employee that’s since left, or as complex as weighing whether or not the benefit from belonging to an association is worth the cost. Finding a way to carefully log subscription-based expenses, including their renewal dates, and who is primarily using them, is an effort that will be well-rewarded with savings.

2. Gifts

Sending a little something to a loyal client or a juicy prospect is good business, but corporate gift-giving can turn into a sad waste if not approached properly. How many times have you received a mug or agenda emblazoned with a company logo? How many times did you put those items to use? Most importantly, did that gift make you feel at all valued? More likely, you felt like a name checked off a list, so, not only did the gift fail at its intended purpose, but it also cost that company money. Lose-lose. What’s the solution? Send fewer, better gifts. Choose clients with whom you have a meaningful rapport, or prospects you’re planning on really chasing. Make the gifts interesting, practical, or related to your personal connection with that person. Suddenly, you’ll save money, and have deeper client relationships.

3. Conferences and tradeshows

Corporate networking events like conferences and tradeshows can open the door to new opportunities by bringing you face-to-face, breaking the barriers of distance and technology. After a few days of putting on the charm and having meaningful conversations, you might feel like the experience was a rousing success. After a few weeks pass, however, you might feel like it was a waste of the registration cost. It’s critical that you have some method of measuring ROI from conferences and tradeshows, or else you’ll never know whether you ought to sign up for the next one. If your analyses reveal that they aren’t really worth it, then you’ve saved yourself some money. If they are worth it, well, then keep at it!

4. Shipping

Sometimes saving comes down to difficult conceptual decisions about culture, and sometimes it’s just shipping. Really. Companies send and receive a lot of things. If your people are doing so without any particular guidelines, choosing express one-day shipping every time, it will definitely make a difference by the end of the year. Whether the solution is negotiating a corporate deal, encouraging saving behaviours among employees, or both, you’re sure to save some money.

5. Employee activity


Team-building activities, corporate meals, and events are all important ways companies invest in their people, for development, recognition, and morale. Likewise, sending employees on trips is a way of both accomplishing business goals and contributing to those travellers’ personal growth. Obviously, there are bound to be financial consequences if these expenses go unchecked. The key with handling expenses from employee activity, as with most expenses, is visibility. If you know what’s happening, you can apply controls to it. If you know two separate teams are planning lunches near the same day, agree on a caterer, and now you’ve consolidated those expenses. If you know an employee is flying out to an event on a certain date, encourage them to book their trip early. It all means more money in your pocket.

Regardless of your role, whether you’re just starting off and looking for a quick win, or if you’ve been there forever and want to bring new change, there’s always room to improve. Take a look at these expenses in your organization and see if you can’t find a way to cut down!

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