There are multiple ways to save money on everyday expenses. While certain strategies like couponing and purchasing items during a promotion are pretty commonly known and easy to implement, when it comes to saving money on more specific expenses like printing documents from your home or office for example, a little creativity may be necessary if you want to find a cost effective solution.

1. Less really can be more

In the past, I don’t know how many times I ran out of printer ink when I really needed a hard copy of something important. This would force me to drop everything that I was doing just to run to the store and get ink. It not only broke my workflow in the moment, at times, it would set off a chain reaction of delaying other important tasks that I had to push back to complete. There’s nothing worse than running out of a necessity when you need something in a pinch.

While it’s probably a good idea to have an extra cartridge or two on hand, there are other ways to to avoid eating up all of your printer ink so quickly. Whenever I use my printer for anything temporary like a draft or something I’m using short term, I make it a habit to use less ink when doing so.

Some printers will allow you the option to use less ink when printing. For instance, “draft mode” uses less ink. Choosing to print in black and white is another option to avoid using up color ink. Sometimes there are options to exclude graphics or photos when they aren’t needed. The printer will use less ink to print out this information for you.

If you don’t have these options or don’t utilize them, you’re somewhat forced to use up more ink than necessary. One day it occurred to me to lighten the text color before printing a draft. The text defaults to black but you can change it to a lighter grey. Choose a grey that’s dark enough to make out what the text says, otherwise it will be hard to read if it’s too light. I do this every time and I notice that the cartridge lasts longer.

Another emergency measure is to take the empty cartridge out and shake it and put it back in. This worked for me and saved me at 2 a.m. one morning. I was able to print the 4 pages I needed. Don’t rely on this, but it worked.

2. Pay a little more upfront to save money and avoid shopping as often

Another economical option is to buy a cartridge that is made to last longer. While it costs more than a standard cartridge, you can get more ink for your money. You can also purchase ink in bulk or use remanufactured ink cartridges online for a fraction of the cost. Check out a brand like EcoInk on Amazon or research other popular brands. Check reviews or research a bit to see if it’s right for you. If you shop at other stores like Staples or Walmart, look into getting discounted gift cards in advance for a steeper discount.

3. Reuse paper

There are times when I print out drafts, especially if a document is very long and easier to read over as a hard copy. Other times, I want to print out an extra copy of a proposed timeline just to reference it quickly when I’m out at a coffee shop or another work space outside of my home, I will be sure to have one handy. Using the printer not only uses up the ink, but it can devour the computer paper. For this reason, I reuse my paper when it’s for my eyes only. I save money and get more use out of my purchase. It’s an eco-friendly option. I’m also sure to recycle the paper once both sides are used.

The Bottom Line

It can’t hurt to be a little more strategic when it comes to printing. Follow the tips above to save money on ink cartridges and paper. It will allow your work flow to remain uninterrupted and keep money in your pocket.

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Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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