On this site, we have talked about a lot of ways to save money and mitigate spending. Today, we are going to focus on ink-jet printers.
Ink-jets are fairly inexpensive to buy, and they make home printing accessible to everyone. But while you can find a printer for as little as $29.99, that doesn’t take into account the hidden costs.
Do Your Homework
With ink-jet printers, saving money starts before you buy. It will be tempting to try to save money up front by buying that $29.99 printer. And if all you do is print the occasional letter, that printer could be a great deal. But if you plan to print multiple documents on an on-going basis, that cheap printer could cost you hundreds of dollars a year in ink.
The fact is, a lot of cheaper printers have ink cartridges that cost as much as the printer itself, without the printing capacity to match the price. Before you buy a printer, check with review sites like Consumer Reports. These sites will not only provide information on print quality, they will also give you information on the average cost to operate the printer – including printing cartridge capacity.
Your best bet is to determine how much you plan to print, and then find a printer model that has affordable cartridges with a print capacity within that range. You might have to pay a little more up front, but you will save more over the life of your printer.
If you do most of your printing for personal use, set your printer to draft mode, which uses far less ink. Draft mode also prints faster because it doesn’t have to take the time to make the image or lettering as sharp. Unless you are printing something for distribution, like a college paper or a resume, draft printing should suit your needs fine.
Most manufacturers will tell you to only use new and brand-name ink cartridges. While it might seem like they are simply trying to make more money, they do have a point. The brand-name cartridges have been designed, by the manufacturer, to work with your specific machine. When you use their products, you can pretty much guarantee they will work with your equipment and won’t void the warranty. But, manufacturer’s cartridges can also be expensive.
There are companies out there that can offer you a premium ink cartridge refill that is compatible with your printer model and is considerably less expensive than typical name-brand ink. Some companies, like Rapid Refill, not only sell replacement cartridges, they can also recycle your old cartridges and reduce landfill waste.
Paper is the second largest expense when it comes to printers. And, as with your printer, sometimes cheaper is not necessarily better. While multi-purpose paper could work perfectly well, paper that is designed for ink jets could actually reduce your ink usage, and make the image resolution better. This is because ink jet paper has a special coating. Plain paper does not, and could actually absorb more ink and be more likely to smudge.
One way to save money on paper is to print things double-sided, or duplex. Another option is to reuse the backs of previously printed paper. The latter method works well if you are printing out things for your own personal use.
If you are printing things for distribution, and find that you have to print several drafts, consider printing the drafts on cheaper paper, or using the back of the page, then printing the finished copy on more expensive paper.
Outsource High-Volume Printing
If you are regularly printing more than ten copies of a document, and those copies have more than 20 pages, don’t try to print it on your home printer. The fact is, even office-quality printers are not really designed to handle that kind of output, and you could end up spending tons of money on ink.
If you have a weekly newsletter, or several hundred flyers, or any other large-volume job, your best bet is to print out one good master copy on your home printer. Then, take that master to a copy place and have them make multiple reproductions for as little as five cents per impression.