Save money, refill your ink cartridges.

Ever notice that sometimes you can buy a new printer for less than that replacement ink cartridge for it? The printer manufacturers went to the Gillette School of Marketing - give the printer (razor) away, the real profits are in the ink (razor blades). Take a look at this graph, HP Ink is more expensive than oil or blood!

Worse, most of the cartridges that come with printers are what the industry calls “light loads,” they don’t have a full amount of ink or toner you get with a new cartridge.

Despite computers being heralded as leading to paperless offices, we print more and more each year. Frankly some things are easier to read on paper. Paper files away nicely. And you can read paper during take off and landing.

So if you don’t want to have most of your office supplies budget going to printer ink and toner, what can you do?

One option is to switch from brand name ink cartridges to “house brands.” While I’m sure there are a lot of people who will tell you the ink isn’t as good, or the colors aren’t right on, for most applications close is good enough.

I’ve also found that shopping on-line results in even less expensive “compatible” ink cartridges. For instance a friend’s Epson CX9400 uses $35 Epson ink cartridges. The local Office Depot brand is about $15. Doing a Google products search found cartridges for $1.99 each.

Of course if you really want to go cheap, try refilling your cartridges. Some cartridges have internal fuses or memory chips to record they have been used up, but if you don’t let them run out you can often refill them. And some laser cartridges require burning a hole to refill them. But many are easy to refill, the office supply stores even sell refilling kits.