In this 2-part series, I'll discuss my process for decision making on digital products as well as share my favorite resources for making printing affordable! You can read the digital discussion HERE and the printing help here.
How can I afford to print this all? I get that question ALL the time! Whether it's the stuff from my Gentle + Classical Nature Bundle or my Preschool Bundle, the BYB Annual Sale, or the Mega Montessori Sale, you may LOVE what you see, know that you would definitely use it and get great value from it... but you can't figure out how to make the printing feasible. I hope what I share today will help.
So, here are the basic printing options:
Print yourself, with your own printer.
Print via a service life FedEx or Office Depot.
Print using the popular The Homeschool Printing Company service.
I am a dollar and cents girl and feel like the only way to really compare is with a spreadsheet, which I've prepared below!
A few important notes:
FedEx doesn't seem to upcharge for cardstock but only has an 80lb option. We use 110lb at out home. They’re just kind of ridiculously expensive and would be a last resort for me!
Through HSLDA, you can receive an automatic group discount with Office Max/Office Depot. If you are an HSLDA member, sign up here for the discount. I've used this before but can't seem to get logged in. I've found online where the prices are what I've indicated above, but I don't have solid proof at the moment, and I’m sure they’re subject to change.
Printing at home assumptions: I've used numbers from my own experience and the third-party ink that I purchase for the printer recommended below. I've used this third-party ink in these printers for a decade with NO issues. On occasion, I've had a "bum" cartridge that didn't work, but by far, the savings are worth that. The assumptions: 500 pages per cartridge on B&W and 300 per cartridge color with 5% coverage. I add in my own estimation that color is more like 100 pages per cartridge based on my graphics-heavy products. In the "print at home" option, I am also not including the cost of the printer or the wear and tear. I see this product as a 5-6 year investment.
As you can see from the chart above, printing at home with the recommended tools below is the cheapest, once you've invested in a printer that isn't finicky about third-party ink. VERY close to that, are the prices from The Homeschool Printing Company. One note about The Homeschool Printing Company: I've heard really good things about quality, but at certain times of year (like the fall), the orders can take several weeks. So be aware and order in advance of needing your stuff, especially for peak season.
If we go back to the previous post in this series, we can see that yes- if you use $100 worth of materials that you purchase for $25 and then pay $10-20 to print at home or via The Homeschool Printing Company, you're going to save a huge amount!
Printer/Ink Recommendations: I have created an idea list in my Amazon shop to share the printer, ink, paper, and cardstock that I have used long-term and have been very happy with. You can visit that HERE.
One question that I've been asked before and that I think we all ask ourselves is- once we have purchased these goodies and printed them, will we actually USE THEM? That's a great question for personal examination. I think we've all felt the pangs of purchased and unused curriculum or tools- even when we were extremely diligent in making our decision. Sometimes... plans change, life changes, things just don't go as we expect. All that's within your control is to decide, that as far as it depends on you, once you've invested time and money into a product, that you do due diligence in seeking to utilize it.
Staying organized! If we can't find it or forget about it, we can't use it. Keep your digital files in ONE folder, preferably on a platform you can access from anywhere like Google Drive. Divide them up by ages and subjects. Do this AS SOON as you make the purchase. Be diligent in maintaining this.
Before you make new purchases look through your digital resources AND your "homeschool closet/shelf/cabinet" to see what's already on hand.
Print as much as you can right away and prep it. Keep printables in sleeves inside a large 3-ring binder. Label everything.
Make it enjoyable. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts or your favorite TV show while you print, cut, laminate, and organize. Do this BIG a few times a year, and you'll always have everything you need, on-hand and ready to go, at the lowest possible price!
I hope this was helpful and informative in helping you feel empowered in making these decisions for your family! Share your favorite resources and thoughts below!