Ways to Save on Printing!

Ways to save money on printing! ~ Our Cozy Den

As homeschoolers, our printer gets some serious mileage. As I mentioned in my post about the ways that homeschooling is cheaper than public school, there is a plethora of free curriculum available online, but a lot of it requires that you print-print-print.

This can really add up over time, and you know frugal-me: I’m always  looking for places to trim the budget!

Here are some of the ways that I’ve considerably reduced the amount we spend on printing — from the ink to the paper to the printer itself!

1. Choose your printer wisely.

I had an HP printer for several years, and it seemed to suck ink like a Southerner sucks sweet tea on a hot summer day. The worst part was the fact that the ink was in 2 cartridges: 1 black and 1 blue/yellow/red. If a cartridge was empty, it would not print until you replaced it. My current printer is a Canon. {I could not find the exact model since mine is a few years old, but this is pretty close. And it’s pretty economical too, at $75 right now!}  It has 5 cartridges: 2 black, 1 blue, 1 yellow, and 1 red. I can replace only what is empty (I can’t even tell you how many times I threw away a cartridge that still had red ink in it because the blue was empty…). Additionally, my printer allows me to “override” the empty cartridge and continue printing even after it is “empty”. I can usually use the printer for an extra month or more before it is actually empty.

2. Buy refilled off-brand ink cartridges.

You can get excellent ink cartridges for low-low prices. There are 2 ways I usually go about this:

1. I check prices on amazon. Sometimes I get it there even if it’s not cheaper, if I’m in a time crunch and need the 2-day shipping.

Ways to save money on printing! ~ Our Cozy Den
Here’s a screenshot of an order I placed a few weeks ago: I bought FOUR black cartridges for $7.99 and a five-pack of all the cartridges for $8.99. These cost $15-20 EACH when purchasing name brand!!

2. I go through Ebates to activate cash back, then I search one of the many discount retailers on their site. I usually get ~10% back on top of the low prices. Check RetailMeNot for coupons to stack the savings even further!

Ways to save money on printing! ~ Our Cozy Den

I’ve never ever had a problem using these cartridges. They always work just as well as the name brand ones!

3. Always take free paper where you can get it.

If I’m printing something that the kids are going to use once and throw away, I print on the back of old junk mail or any paper that comes into our home with a blank back. As a bonus, sometimes the paper is colored, so the kids get excited if their math is on purple paper, yay!

About a year ago, a woman from Byron’s seminary asked if I wanted some paper for the kids to doodle on — apparently they found a few boxes of old-school printer paper and they don’t use those sort of printers any more. They work just fine in a regular printer, we just have to tear off the sides and then tear the sheets apart. Yes, it can be annoying sometimes, but it was FREE! We got 5,000 sheets, and we’ve been printing on them ever since. We’re only maybe 1/5th of the way through the stock, as well, so it should last for several years.

Ways to save money on printing! ~ Our Cozy Den

If you can’t find free paper, stock up at back-to-school sales. Stores like Office Depot and Staples often run deals where you can get a ream of paper for 1¢. Ask friends and family to add a ream to their cart whenever they are shopping there! I would usually end up getting enough reams for a penny to last the entire year.

4. Print What You Like

This website is one of the internet’s hidden gems. So here’s the scenario: You want to print information from a website, but you don’t want all the other junk on the page: the sidebars, the ads, etc. What you can do is copy the URL, then head over to www.printwhatyoulike.com. Paste the URL and it will redirect you to an editable page. Then you can delete all of the fields you don’t want/need, and print just the info you want to print. It takes a few minutes but saves a TON of ink & paper!

5. Pay attention to your settings.

When it comes time for me to print a document, 99% of the time I will make a few adjustments to my print settings to make it use less ink. I use a Mac, so on my computer it looks like this:

Ways to save money on printing! ~ Our Cozy Den
I choose Quality & Media > Draft > Grayscale Printing to use the least amount of ink possible!

 6. Print Smaller!

If I have a document that I can make do with smaller print, I absolutely do so! If it’s a small doc, I usually just change the layout to 2 or 4 pages per sheet, front and back, and then I will have 4-8 pages on one sheet of paper. If it’s a larger document or something that the kids will be using for school, I create a booklet.

I have to admit, I don’t remember how exactly I got this little addition to my computer. I remember wanting to have the capability, finding a program, and downloading something… but it was several years ago. I’m sorry!

What a booklet does is change the page order of your document when printing, so that you can fold in half and staple down the middle. I use this feature ALL THE TIME for the kids’ schoolwork. It’s so handy! So if you have a 12-page document, it would print pages 1 & 12 on one sheet, with 6 & 7 being together. I don’t know all the numbers, I just know that when I print it (double-sided with short-edge binding), everything is in perfect order.

Ways to save money on printing! ~ Our Cozy Den

7. If you can avoid printing, do so!

I’ve been experimenting with using more technology in our homeschool classroom, to include using PDF workbooks (and having kids write answers on regular old sheet of notebook paper), Kindle books, and plain old photos. Many times, instead of printing, I’m able to pull the information up on my phone or iPad and take a screenshot instead.

I also like to take advantage of reusing schoolbooks by putting them in sheet protectors, like I mentioned once in a TipTuesday post:

Using sheet protectors to prolong books ~ #TipTuesday @Our Cozy Den!

I often laminate charts that we will check off over and over again as well.

So what are YOUR tips?

If you have a great way to save money on printing, share in the comments below! I hope you found some of the strategies useful to help alleviate the strain on your wallet a little!

Ways to save money on printing! ~ Our Cozy Den
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