How to save money and make this cartridge go further

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With the cost of living soaring in recent weeks — in part because inflation is at its highest level since 1981 (as measured by the consumer price index) — many Americans are looking for deals at the groceries, relief at the pump and ways to shave down electricity bills at home.

Even common “consumables” like printer ink are more expensive today and are especially felt by home workers or perhaps those who entertain children with crafts during the summer.

The good news is that there are some simple practices that might help you get the most out of your printer ink, plus a few other tips and tricks to consider when printing at home.

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A few suggestions:

Practice “selective printing”

Can you digitally sign this document? Isn’t it smarter to buy an activity book at your local dollar store than to print out coloring pages for toddlers? Can you get by with a digital photo album from your vacation instead of printing out dozens of photos?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might agree that it’s time to reduce the amount of impressions by being more selective. But what should you do instead?

Consider bringing your phone, tablet or laptop into the kitchen to follow a recipe rather than print it out, for example.

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Use print button on web pages instead of Control + P

Be selective about what you print, to save money on ink, but if you need to print something online, look for the website's print tab rather than the browser's print option, because you will not print advertisements, banners and other unnecessary text and photos that surround your content.

If you really need to print something from the internet – like an Amazon return label, an important email, or a boarding pass – look for the “Print” button on the webpage itself at the top of the page.

Clicking it will ignore (or at least reduce) unnecessary printing of images, ads and banners around the content itself – as opposed to using the print shortcut Ctrl+P (on Windows) or Command+ P (on a Mac), which will print everything on the page.

To revisit the sample recipe, hitting Control + P could mean ending up with 10 or more pages of photos, stories, and reviews you don’t really need to cook that dish. But if you click “Go to Recipe” and “Print Recipe” from the webpage, you’ll only print what you actually need: the ingredients and the instructions.

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Preview before printing

Before printing a photo, article or document, be sure to select “Print Preview” in the File tab to see how it will look when printed. You may notice that an article you are about to print contains photos that you do not want. Or maybe you want the ability to switch from color to grayscale. So save money on unwanted print jobs by taking a few seconds to review what you’re about to print.

Paste with brand ink

Although no-name inks may be cheaper, try to stick with branded inks from the same company as your printer. they have been tested to last much longer than generic inks.

In other words, branded inks will cost you less over time.

Additionally, inexpensive ink cartridges dry out on the printheads, which can cause performance issues.

On a related note, you might be tempted to use ink refill services, but it might not be worth it. Be sure to do the math to see how much you’re actually saving.

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Seal unfinished ink

It’s a good idea to have a spare ink cartridge handy – in case you need to print something and the shops are closed – but be sure to keep the ink in the sealed container or foil bag in which it was sold. If you open it prematurely, the oxygen will start to dry out the ink over time.

On that note, if you have spare ink open, seal it tightly in a Ziplock bag to prevent it from drying out. This is especially useful for snowbirds who live elsewhere half the year and leave their printers unused for months at a time.

Finally, perform regular maintenance checks on your printer to ensure it is operating at peak performance.

Go cartridge-free

Rather than buying expensive cartridges that don't produce much ink, consider a printer

Perhaps the best advice of the bunch is to buy a printer that doesn’t take cartridges at all.

The Epson EcoTank family “supertank” printers, for example (starting at $279), include a set of black and color ink bottles that last up to two years. That equates to around 90 ink cartridges, according to Epson, with each set of replacement bottles saving you up to $1,000 each time. It also reduces the amount of plastic that goes to landfills.

Having so much ink also solves another “pain point” associated with printing: running out of ink at the most inopportune moment.

This wireless printer/scanner/copier also lets you print from smartphones and tablets, and you can also use your voice through a smart speaker, like asking “OK Google, print a crossword puzzle or “Alexa, print my grocery list.”

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Mostly imperceptible to the human eye, EcoFont fonts have fewer pixels making up the letters and numbers on the page, saving you money on ink.

Save money on ink by formatting your document with Ecofonta collection of downloadable font styles that are “perforated”.

Although they may look the same to the naked eye, these fonts have tiny holes in the letters, numbers and symbols and, when printed, can save up to 46% of your ink or toner, explains Ecofont. A annual license costs about $9.25 for a home user (more for a business).

Like EcoTank, these fonts are not only easier on your wallet, but they also mean fewer ink cartridges in landfills.

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