If you run an office or are a student, you are probably familiar with the high costs of printing.  There may be times that printing is not as important and costs are low.  However, if you need to print reports, papers, bills, pictures, and other documents, the cost of printing can really add up.

One option is to print at a printing shop.  There are many consumer-oriented shops that operate on a 24/7 basis, so you can print your items whenever you are ready.  If you are printing an item in bulk or that is not the standard letter size, this might actually be a good bargain.  In some cases, you can even leave the file to be printed with one of the employees.  This can also save time, as well as money.  Using print shops is a great for printing of banners and other large format items.  These shops are also helpful if you are printing for a special occasion or need a high quality printout.  Remember that these shops provide professional printing results.  If the print quality is low or the colors don’t match the items on the screen, you can ask the shop for a free reprint.  These shops are expected to have a higher printer calibration than your home printer, resulting in a better color match to your final printout.  This is one of the reasons that you would use them instead of printing at home.

Of course, if you need to print often, you probably are the proud owner of a home printer.  These printers are great for everyday printing.  They are also easy to obtain for a reasonable price, both new and used.  Once you select a good printer, you can use it for years.  However, the highest cost of printing can be from your paper and ink supply.  There are ways to avoid or minimize these high costs.

One of the ways to save on paper is to utilize your print preview in various programs before printing.  Also, test prints can be done on your inexpensive papers with low cost inks, leaving your best paper for the final print.  This may not seem necessary for occasional printing.  However, if you print a large amount of material or need a close color match in a photo, this process can make a huge difference in paper costs.

When you chose a printer, it is best to select one that allows for multiple ink cartridge colors, such as one space for black and a separate one for color.  People tend to print mostly in black.  If you use just one cartridge, then you may have to replace it if just the black ink has run out.  On the other hand, with separate cartridges, you only need to replace the black and can keep using the other cartridges for a much longer period of time.  If you’re printer allows it, when the printer indicates needing a change, you might try removing and reinserting the same used cartridge.  It may still have some ink left, allowing you to get some more printouts.  The quality should remain quite similar until the ink is almost finished.  If you are printing important papers or pictures, this might not be worthwhile.  However, it could be a lifesaver if you don’t have a new cartridge on hand and need to print a document.

There are a few choices available if would like to save on printer ink.  Some companies offer ink-filling kits that you can fill yourself using additional supplies.  This can be helpful if you don’t mind refilling cartridges on your own.  If not, there are other companies that offer remanufactured cartridges with recycled parts.  There are also companies that offer generic and discount cartridges.  One such company offers FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50 at TomatoInk.com . Generic cartridges can be either compatible with or remanufacterd to original equipment specifications.  Compatible cartridges are brand new.  Using these cartridges, instead of brand name ones can save you a significant amount of money.  This is especially true for laser and toner ink for copiers.  These larger generic items can be as much as 50% or more lower in price than their brand-name equivalents.

If you only use brand name print cartridges, you can help the environment and save some money by returning them for credit in participating stores.  One well-known office supply store, at one time, was providing a free pack of copy paper for the return of one or two ink cartridges of particular brand names.  However, this offer was discontinued at that particular store.  This same store now gives you a store credit for each returned cartridge that can be applied to any of their products.  Check with the office supply or similar stores in your area for these types of offers.

Regardless of the type of company that you use to supply your printing needs, it is best to make sure that there is a solid return policy.  Before ordering, try to find out how exchanges and returns will be handled.  Also, remember to factor in the cost of shipping for online orders and gas for purchases in a store.

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One great way is to return empty cartridges at your local office supply store. Be sure to call first, because these offers are always changing and have different terms at each store. You can get even more useful tips, freebies, and coupons from this free newsletter.
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