Owning Your Own Printer vs. FedEx Office

FedEx Office (formerly known as FedEx Kinko’s or just Kinko’s) is a 24-hour-a-day shop in most places where you can walk in to do a quick scan, print, fax or any other number of office-related stuff.

To note: FedEx Office is just one example of a store like this. Even the sleepiest of small towns in the USA have some kind of local office store when you can run off a copy, print something, get something faxed out, etc. They’re usually located in the busier part of town.People own printers for three primary reasons:

  1. To print stuff (obviously)
  2. Convenience
  3. Cost

The convenience of owning a printer is that you can print from home without having to go anywhere else.

The cost of printing from home goes on the assumption that buying a printer, buying ink and buying paper is cheaper than printing it at a shop or store.

Weighing out the costs – Home printing

The best-selling home printer to this day is still inkjet based. While it’s true home laser printing is readily available to anyone who wants it, people prefer the ink. Why? One reason: Color. Color inkjet printing at home is still far less expensive than color laser printing (even with the ridiculous cost of inkjet cartridge replacement).

If you examine NewEgg sorted by “most reviews” with inkjet printers, you will find most people on average will spend between $100 to $200 for an inkjet printer. Yes, some printers listed are lower than $100 and some well over $200, but most fall within the $100-$200 range.

Replacement ink cartridges cost anywhere from 9 to 25 bucks each depending on where you shop. If you have a color inkjet printer (as most people do) you usually need to buy one “black” and one “color”.

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A few notes on ink cartridges:

Some people have to replace these every 6 months. Others may get a year out of them. And others may get 2 years. It varies greatly.

You can try to save a buck by getting the ink for your cartridges re-filled at a Walgreen’s or other like business. This will either result in one of two scenarios. Either it will work fine or fail miserably. I’ve known people who have had great success with this and others who say it’s a complete waste of time and money.

Generally speaking, the best way to get the longest life out of your ink is to actually use it so the ink doesn’t dry up prematurely. If you’re asking “How often should I print stuff?”, the answer is at least a couple of pages a week. One color and one black. Just send a few printer test pages if you can’t think of anything to print.

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Most people will not need to change the cartridges out more than once a year. The cost of doing this each time assuming you bought both a color and a black is about 40 bucks (taxes included).

The last cost involved is paper. A ream of 100-sheet “everyday photo paper” is about 10 bucks. Most people will not go thru more than 200 printed pages yearly.

In the end, this is how the cost fares out:

The average cost of the printer is $150.

The average cost you’ll spend yearly on ink is around $40 (assuming you bought new replacement cartridges).

Two reams of 100-sheet paper per year, $20.

Total including printer, yearly: $210.

Total without including printer, yearly: $60.

Weighing out the costs – FedEx Office

Going to FedEx Office or any other like store usually isn’t convenient. You have to get in your car, drive to the place and spend money up front to get anything printed, copied or faxed.

Personally speaking, I do find it convenient because my local FedEx Office is under 5 miles away from me and use them whenever I need to print something out.

For the sake of example, let’s say you wanted to print out an e-mail at FedEx Office. Here’s how it works:

First, there’s the drive to the place. This costs gas money. It may not be a lot but it counts. We’ll say it costs $1.00 for a round trip.

Second, once inside you have to go to one of the computers there to get your e-mail to print. You sit down, flip out the credit card and put it in the terminal to use it. The cost is based on time used and you usually won’t spend more than $2.00 maximum.

Third, you login to your e-mail and send it to print. If you send a black/white, the job will cost $0.75 to over a buck depending on what the shop charges for it. When you go to print, the computer will tell you beforehand exactly how much it will cost you. For ease of math we’ll just say it was a buck.

Here’s how the cost fares out here:

The trip: $1.00

Computer login and use: $2.00

Print job: $1.00

Total cost: $4.00

Some will read this think instantly, “FOUR BUCKS JUST TO PRINT SOMETHING? ARE YOU INSANE?”

It is no more insane than spending 40 bucks each time you have to replace two inkjet cartridges.

Cost vs. Cost

Assuming I owned a printer already, it’s $60 yearly for ink and paper – and bear in mind that’s being a real cheap-o about it.

FedEx office costs me $4.00 each time I go there. I would have to go there 15 times to equal the cost of printing stuff myself at home.

The cost of going to and using FedEx Office doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

Where do the savings really start by owning your own printer?

Concerning home printing, it can be stated simply as this:

If you don’t use it, you lose it.

If you are in fact printing things routinely (at least four times a month), then yes, you are saving money compared to going to FedEx Office or like store. Your paper and ink are getting used and you’re putting the money you spent on this stuff to good use.

If on the other hand your printer rarely gets used (such as once a month), you’re losing money. Your ink cartridges will dry up, the paper you bought will get yellowed with age (and therefore unusable) and the money you spent on this printing stuff will go right down the toilet.

In addition, you lose all the convenience perks of owning your own printer if it doesn’t work due to not using it.

Which should you go with?

If you are the “fair weather” type that doesn’t print things that often (as I am), use FedEx Office or some other local office shop – it will cost less than doing it yourself.

If on the other hand you do have a printer, use it. You paid for the paper; you paid for the ink. Get your money’s worth.

Final notes for those who have never used an office shop:

If you’ve never used FedEx Office or like shop, I do suggest you at least stop by to check it out. It’s a good solution for quick faxing, scanning and super-large print jobs (like printing out 300 flyers for example) that would cost too much to do on your own.

5 thoughts on “Owning Your Own Printer vs. FedEx Office”

Bernie says:
Now with FedEx allowing people to print to a store location via the internet then just pick up the output. I figure the costs are about the same. I do use a personal printer because I do not print much or often, and they seem to be a hassle to own (least favorite job when I did Tech Support was troubleshooting, cleaning, and repairing Printers) anyone who has seen the movie Office Space knows what I am talking about.
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Adam says:
Good points, but you’ve forgottento factor in the cost of your own time. If you bill yourself at a modest $50 per hour, each 30 minute trip to kinkos will definitelyadd up.
XC says:
What?! Why would you bill yourself $50.00 for your time? That doesn’t make sense.
David M says:
I can see going to Kinko’s if you need to make hundreds of copies or if you need something printed on just one or two sheets of some out of the ordinary paper.

Otherwise it is not worth it to go out to make one copy on plain paper.

One thing not mentioned. If you want to save on the cost of color inkjet cartridges, then print in black only. Its rare when I need to print something in color anyway.

I wish I could change the default in my printer software to print in black only…but then, printer companies would not sell as much of their outrageously expensive color ink.

Drew says:
What printer software doesn’t allow you to default to black? I have a Canon and it’s defaulted to ‘greyscale’ which prints in black only. If your software for some unknown reason doesn’t allow you to default to black, don’t put in a color cartridge – it then has no option but to print in black only then.
Drew says:
I have my own photo printer AND I use FedEx Kinko’s. I use the printer at home for normal everyday stuff and Kinko’s for the higher end, quality prints. For example, if you were creating a business plan or printing out a resume, Kinko’s is much better b/c they have a large assortment of high quality paper and their prints are from laser printers. So for all professional prints, I use Kinko’s and anything my wife wants to print out, photos etc. she or I can use the printer at home.

I like having options, and having two different ones depending on what it is that you need to print, is much better than having just one.

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