One of the things I miss most about my old day job is the free printing. I’m not kidding either. Even though we live in a digital age, I still find myself printing out a ton of documents nearly every single day. I print out everything from contracts to shipping labels and everything in-between. At my old job, there were three laser/color printers within 25 feet of my desk. I was in heaven.
I know you’re not supposed to use company resources for personal use but no one I know really follows that. In fact, I would always save all my personal printing for work and it was part of the four hours a day I spent not working. But now, all that has changed. And even though I don’t have free access to a laser printer anymore, I still have just as much stuff to print.
I Forgot How Expensive Ink Is
I have a standard HP Office Jet printer that I bought from Costco five years ago and it still works very well. It’s an all in one with scanner, fax(what’s that??), and of course printing. I primarily use it for scanning and printing though since I don’t even own a home phone line.
All that ‘work printing for my job’ enabled me to get by on a couple cartridges I bought a few years back. But when my ink ran out the other day, I went online and typed in to Google: “HP 74 XL Ink Cartridge”. The first result was directly from the HP website so I clicked on it and the price was $41.99! Alright obviously I’m not going to buy ink from HP, that would be like going to the dealership to get your car fixed. But even good ol’ reliable Amazon had a pretty high price at $34.17.
Time to Get Creative
I did a bunch of searching and the best price I could find was for seller refurbished cartridges on eBay. I bought 2 black cartridges(74XL) and 1 color cartridge(75XL) for $10.65 with free shipping and no tax. That’s about $3 a piece since color cartridges are usually more expensive. The black ink cartridge was 10x cheaper than the cheapest price that I found on Amazon. WOW!
I think these cartridges are so cheap because the companies that sell them ship off old cartridges to China and fill them up with ink there and then send them back to the US and sell them for dirt cheap. It’s a smart business model if you ask me because they’re able to undercut US ink cartridges by 10x. That’s just ridiculous. Why would anyone buy a regular cartridge?
Quality of Cartridges
I know some people will probably tell me how much better quality the HP cartridges are but honestly, I bet they come from the same factory in China! And there’s no way they’re 10x better.
That being said, the HP ink cartridges may be higher quality and they may last longer but the physical quantity of ink in both cartridges is definitely the same. And I’ve found that there are actually some things you can do to make your ink last longer regardless of whether you buy manufacturer or refurbished cartridges.
In order to extend the life of your cartridge it’s all about preventing your ink from drying. When the ink dries, it becomes useless and can really cut into the life of your cartridge. Here are some tips for making your ink last longer:
- Avoid extreme temperatures – Printer ink can be a little sensitive and hot more so than cold can make the ink evaporate and dry up faster. Try to leave your printer in a nice cool or shaded place.
- Turn on and off your printer manually – On most printers, when you manually turn off the printer, the cartridges are parked in a spot where they are exposed to less air. So by turning on your printer only when you need it, you’re effectively extending the life of your cartridge.
- Print at least once a week – You might not think that printing ink would save you ink. But if you don’t use your printer for a few weeks, the ink will start to dry up and leave less ink for printing. Try to print at least one page a week to keep the ink fresh and prevent the cartridge from drying up.
Readers, are there people that actually spend $40 on a black ink cartridge? Can’t you get a new printer for about the same price these days? What do you think about my eBay solution that’s 10x cheaper?
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-Harry @ PF Pro