Thursday, August 4, 2011

Frugal Luxuries: NOT Using Your Home Printer

my bookmarks

If you use your printer a lot, this post isn’t for you. If you’re like me, however, and print out maybe a dozen pages a month and seldom in color, read on my friend.

I have a printer/scanner/copier at home. At least that’s what it technically is. What it really is: a paperweight/scanner/something-to-stack-filing-on dust catcher. I mostly keep it for its scanning purposes, which it does come in handy those couple of times a year when I want something scanned. We used to print stuff out when we first got it, but then we slowly stopped using it to the point that both ink cartridges have dried up beyond resurrection.

I have several alternatives that I generally turn to when I want a hard copy of something from the computer:

1.       Use a pen and scrap paper
2.       Print it at work (don’t freak out, I’ll explain)
3.       Bookmark it instead of printing it
4.       Bring it to a printer

Pen and (scrap) paper: It’s tried and true, and doesn’t cost me anything as I generally use the back of an envelope or some other scrap paper that was mailed to me. If I run low on scrap paper I’ll often bring home paper from work (that don’t have confidential information of course) that would otherwise end up in the recycle bin. Outdated letterhead is great for this.

Print it at work: Ok, I know what you’re thinking – that’s mooching off the company. Well, yeah, technically. But in all dear honesty, my office doesn’t care (heck, they all do it too). If I tried to print a novel I’d probably get in trouble, but a few pages a month is no sweat off their back. If you think your office might care, offer to pay the two cents or so per copy that it costs them. The office manager can have a penny jar sitting on their desk, and you can drop in pennies when you make your printouts.

Bookmarks: Bookmarks (as in saving a webpage under your Internet Favorites) is a great way to save information for future use. I have mine set up with a bunch of folders for ease of use. For example:

dailies – has my list of blogs that I check out regularly (daily refers to how often they post, not how often I check – I wish I could check them out daily!)
cooking – recipes, cooking tips, canning/preserving, etc
gardening – seed catalogs, gardening tips, gardens that inspire me
ideas – the crafts and ideas that I want to do someday, you know, when I have time (hahahahaha! time!)
random tidbits – the articles and webpages that don’t fit the other categories (most of those links at the bottom of the list will end up there)
reading – author websites, articles on getting published, library links

Pinterest: Like the bookmark idea, Pinterest lets you save pictures for future reference in an easily accessible format.

Bring it to a printer: I used to try and print out things like business cards and photos on my home printer. You know what? They never came out like I wanted them to. And for the price that I paid for the ink and paper, as well as the time spent fighting with the danged thing – I’d just assume bring it to someone else. Photos I print at the drug store kiosk. Business cards, brochures and larger items that I want printed in color I bring to a printer. When I put together my son’s birth announcement, I put four photos on an 8 ½ x 11 document and had them print out a bunch of copies on glossy paper – instant custom sized photos. I use a local place since it’s all of a mile away from me, but in the past I’ve gone to the big box stores and had great luck there too.

How often do you print? Is it worth it to you to keep a working printer at home? Do you have any other tips on how to save on printouts?

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