After recently cruising the office supply stores for bargains on a home scanner, I found that $100 was the best I was going to do for what I needed. That's fine, but while I needed the scanner, it will take awhile to earn its keep at that price. I need to speed it up and make it earn its keep sooner.
For some, a scanner is not an essential home office item. However, for others it's a requirement, and having an office store scan items is impractical. If it is essential, put it to good use for as many reasons as possible.
The home office all in one scanner can copy documents, fax items, and scan photos into digital format. Use the machine to add photos to documents to make them more impressive. Fax orders rather than mail them to save both time and money. Check the copy options, however. It might be a more economical choice to send copies out; ink is expensive.
Now, add value to your all in one scanner with some creativity. Scan receipts before submitting them (or rebates or overtime sheets) in case they're lost later. Rather than make a photocopy that uses ink and paper, be kind to your pocketbook and the environment and save them digitally. Add a folder icon to your desktop and place all of your receipts there until they've been paid.
A fax machine, if included in the machine, can save both money and time. Documents that have signatures or images can be scanned and faxed to their destination to save postage or gas in delivery. Use the fax machine to submit building permits, large order forms, or official letters directly to the destination. If the recipient does not have a fax machine, scan items and send them as e-mail attachments instead.
The copy machine option of a home all in one scanner can be useful, but think outside of the box. Try copying homework papers before they're completed. Then, save the blank copies for review over the summer or later in the year. Newspaper and magazine clippings can be scanned and copied or saved digitally, allowing you to share your subscriptions with friends or borrow from the library.
First, shop online for the item to save gas driving from store to store. Find the best buy available. When adding the cost of postage, keep in mind that local stores will often order the item and waive the shipping if it is picked up in the store.
For instance, when shopping for the scanner I found one that offered rebate. Yet, when I went to the store that offered it online, it wasn't in stock. When asked, the store offered to ship the item from its warehouse to my home for free. Had I not asked, online postage from another store would have cost more as would the other brands in stock a the store. Don't be afraid to ask for the best deal.
Most importantly, don't buy more than you need. While the all in one scanner seems appealing, you're not saving money if you don't need the machine in the first place. Most homes don't need a fax machine; home offices do. Many people don't need a scanner in the first place; having the office supply store scan an occasional photo will suffice. Along the same line of thought, be sure to buy exactly what you do need. For my needs, I need a high resolution scanner, but most people don't need more than 600 dpi. Some may need a portable scanner, but beware of its limitations. Weigh your needs carefully and make a list of what you need before shopping.
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