I used to go to the copy shop every week or two. I often wondered if it would be easier to buy my own printer, but I didn’t have space for an entire printer at my house. Plus, printers break down. And they need ink. And paper. And they’re difficult to connect to my laptop and phone.

Overall, the annoyance of going to the copy shop won out over the costs of owning a personal printer.

Finally, I did a breakdown of how much it actually costs me to go to the copy shop. Here it is:

  • Driving: I couldn’t believe this either, but it actually costs $20.00/hr. to drive my car. 24 minutes driving equals $8.00 for my car. Source: http://gandblaw.com/blog/2010/05/01/it-costs-7-00-per-hour-to-drive-your-car-that%E2%80%99s-just-for-the-gas/
  • Parking: Where I live, I spend about $1.00 to park for up to 20 minutes.
  • Printing: $1.50 for computer use, then $0.20 for each printed page. Assuming I average 3 pages for each job, let’s call this $2.00.
  • Time: It takes me 12 minutes to drive to the copy shop. About 15 minutes of computer use, printing, and checkout. Then 12 minutes home. This equals 39 minutes, but I call this an hour-long errand. Technically there is no “cost” of spending an hour doing errands, but my time is valuable. Click here to calculate the cost of your spare time!
  • For me, the total cost of a single printing job looks like $11.00, not including the cost of my time.
  • Printer purchase: $75 with tax for the ultimate cheapest printer. I estimate the printer will last 3 years before it breaks down.
  • Ink Subscription: $2.00/mo.
  • Paper. $5.00 every 6 months.
  • Storage: Where I live, each square foot of my apartment costs $44.00/yr. I’m going to conservatively say the printer takes up $40.00 of space per year.
  • Time: Again, setting up and maintaining a printer does not happen by itself. I have spent hours configuring home printers throughout my life.

Total: This comes to $8.25 per month to own a printer and print out the occasional document. Okay, that sounds reasonable. But there’s the space it takes up, the risk of breaking the printer, the need to order new paper before I run out, the risk of error messages and paper jams, the time I spent configuring the printer.