Don’t blow a bundle on new ink cartridges -- top off the ones you’ve already got

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I just replaced my inkjet printer, a model I’d bought less than two years ago—not because it broke or because I didn’t like the quality, but because it ran out of ink. Sound absurd? I paid $40 for the new printer (which scans and copies too). New ink cartridges for the last one would have cost me $55. Welcome to the economics of inkjet printing: Give away the printers, gouge them on the cartridges.

Luckily, there are a number of cheaper (and certainly less wasteful) ways to thwart that business model. Instead of buying name-brand cartridges, buy generic. Or pick up a kit that lets you refill the empty cartridges, along with a device that breaks the software locks that some printer companies build into cartridges to prevent you from doing so. You can even get a system to continuously feed ink to the printer from large external containers. The process is easy (but messy—rubber gloves are highly recommended), and the quality is fine for printing documents and Web pages. Just keep one set of the good cartridges around and swap them in for making frame-worthy photos.

Web sites that sell cheap ink and accessories abound; check and for reliable sources, and keep the ink flowing without draining your wallet.