Being over 70 and living on a reduced income doesn't mean giving up the good life. Here, I'll share some good buys I've made, some stuff I'm doing to economize, or ways I enjoy life as cheaply as possible.
For about a year, I've wanted a laser printer. When prices for some models dropped below $100, I started looking, but the ones in my price range were kind of clunky.
Last Wednesday, I was in Roanoke for the Pen Women meeting. On my way, I stopped in Staples and saw an HP LaserJet P1006 that was on special. Regular $179, it was down to $99, thanks to an in-store discount. I liked the way it looked.
It would look nice beside the HP ink jet all-in-one that I already had. It coordinated well with my aging eMac. But could I get it cheaper?
Yep! The circular I'd picked up when I went in said that Staples would give a $50 rebate for a customer's old printer if the customer bought a new printer whose regular price was $159 or more. But would they honor this on a regular price that had already been reduced?
Yep! I asked a salesman, and he confirmed it. But did I have a printer I wanted to part with?
Yep! The Epson ink jet I'd gotten free with my iBook back in January 2004 had died in 2005, and I'd never gotten around to throwing it away. (I'd already made some money with that free printer. Epson, as part of a class-action suit, had already sent me a $25 check and given a $25 credit at their online store. I used the credit for paper. I figured I'd already made as much off that printer as I could. What a surprise that I could still milk it for a little more.) But could I find where I'd put it?
Yep! When I got back home, I found it in a downstairs closet. Now, I didn't rush back to Roanoke (at the current gas prices, it costs me $10 for a round trip). I knew I was returning on Saturday for a Cottage Curio event in Salem. Besides, I rarely buy something the first time I see it. I give myself a few days to decide if I really want it. Did I really want this printer?
Yep! But would the store still have some when I returned on Saturday?
Yep! But the salesman didn't think the rebate applied to marked-down items. I told him what the other salesman had told me. He went to get his manager? Would I get the rebate?
Yep! The manager honored it. But, would I like to get a toner cartridge while I was there?
Yep! I know from experience—and from living 15 miles from the nearest office supply store—always to have an extra cartridge for the printer. Plus the cartridge that comes with a printer usually doesn't last long. But the toner cartridge was $60! More than I was paying for the printer! Did I still get it?
Yep! What good is a printer without a cartridge? At the check-out, I learned that there was a $20 mail-in rebate on the cartridge if it had been purchased with a printer. So, the cartridge would only cost me $40. Did I mail it in?
Nope! Not at the current rate of postage. I applied for the rebate online.
Setting up the printer was, well, interesting. Hewlett-Packard doesn't provide a manual. Only a sheet with some pictures of the steps you have to follow to unpack. By the time I found this sheet, tucked into the printer's paper slot, I'd already unpacked the printer—and not necessarily in the order the pictures suggested. I looked in the box for a manual. There was none.
By this time, my husband, the retired electrical engineer, was involved. We found a CD. "Maybe the manual is on the CD," he suggested. It wasn't—only the installation instructions. Could we get this thing installed and working?
Not at first. After running the install, we plugged it in and found a USB cord (Why don't companies provide one with the printer?) to connect it to the eMac. The eMac recognized the printer. That was a good sign. I tried to print a document—and got a blank sheet of paper. Uh-oh. Was this printer a dud?
Nope! Turns out we hadn't removed a couple of plastic doo-hickeys from the cartridge that came already installed. Luckily, pictures on the box of the new cartridge showed how to remove these doo-hickeys. We pulled (OK, my husband pulled) the cartridge from the laserjet and successfully removed the doo-hickeys. Did it work?
Yep! It worked great. And doesn't it look right at home with the other technical stuff on my desk?
Total cost (including tax) for the (original $179 printer and $60 cartridge): $96.52.
Never pay the original price; wait for a sale.
Wait a few days to make sure you really want what you think you want.
Don't throw anything away; you never know when you might need it.