Last weekend, I was on the hunt for a new copier/printer/scanner. This was no easy task as there are many models that all appear to be equal. The price for the exact same item ranged from $79 to $104 and there were many different all-in-ones that were for substantially less. 

I was ready to buy one of the cheaper versions, until I read an on-line review that claimed “it drinks ink for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”  Suddenly, paying more up front seemed like a better deal than paying over and over again. There is so much information available on line these days that it is easy to price shop and compare — but only on the initial purchase. The real cost comes in after you buy an item, and that is hard to know.

There are many items that have a lower up-front cost than the price of overall ownership: A blouse that needs to be dry-cleaned after each wearing. A free puppy that still requires a decade of food and expensive vet bills even if they remain healthy. A first car, which can seem manageable on a teenager’s income, until they factor in gas, insurance and repair. And this printer, which ended up costing me $79, but one round of new ink was $134. (Hopefully, this model isn’t thirsty and I don’t need to double my investment with regularity!) 

When you are “price matching” or looking for the latest bargain, remember that the cost is on the lifetime of the product, not just the initial outlay. Savings for the long term is more prudent than a deal at the start.

— beth triplett

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