Have you ever found the perfect online printable only to remember you are almost out of ink? Your printer technically still works and you know that the “low ink” warning will give you a few more decent pages. You cross your fingers. Page one works, sigh. Page two starts to go fuzzy and then it happens, the ink is gone. Maybe it’s one of those months where you were actually prepared. You found a superb deal on printer ink and stocked up so you would be prepared for a day like today. But, most likely, it happens that you are not prepared. This scenario is particularly difficult when you are in homeschool preparation mode. You are excited about the lesson ahead. You have the whole thing planned out in your mind. All you need are these perfect worksheets to make the lesson complete. When it doesn’t work out it sure is frustrating. But, you’ve got this and will figure out a way to make the lesson amazing anyways!

The first few years of my homeschooling endeavors I was highly dependant on resources that I printed out. Being the thrifty mom that I am, I quickly sprang onto the idea of free resources and scoured the internet in search of any and everything labeled, free. I soon learned that free is not necessarily free when the resources are printables. Did you know that black printer ink is one of the top ten most expensive liquids in the world? Not a practical use of money, when you are trying to save money. I’m trying to be frugal, not easily drained of our hard earned financial resources. Once I realized how expensive ink was getting to be due to the excessive amount of printing I was doing I made the decision to pull the plug. At least for a little bit. Once I went without it cold turkey, I realized I had other options so now that I have gone back I use significantly less ink and save piles of money and have more money for field trips, books and school supplies.

The first thing I did when I went without a printer was read my PDF files on my e-reader or laptop. In instances where I would have printed out an entire history curriculum in PDF form I instead would read it directly online. This might sound like a no brainer in terms of saving money but it took me a little while to get used to this. I prefer having a hard copy of a book so using my laptop was a struggle but I am now getting used to it and have saved a fortune in doing so. I only print out any activity pages in my current history curriculum and read the rest online.

Secondly, with some subjects, I decided that it would make more financial sense to go ahead and buy the physical copy or book rather than using the cheaper, online e-book. Buying the book saved me time and money over using the ink.

Once I started becoming less dependent on the online printables that were originally a go-to for me, I started to ease my way back into it. I wasn’t constantly printing materials out anymore but would still find supplemental pages once in awhile. Since this has been the case, I have started to use the grayscale printing option. This option is found in your settings and uses less ink than a normal printing would. It comes out a bit faded but generally isn’t a problem for what I am using it for.

Then, we started using ink refills. This takes some time but not as much time as driving to the store and picking up new ink when you are in a pinch. Each type of cartridge has a different method of refilling and is relatively easy and effective.

I try my hardest to hold back when tempted to print out the newest, grandest, most exciting educational resource that starts circulating the internet. And, by using these tips I do for the most part but am still able to splurge once in awhile!