The price of technology we can’t live without
(or live with)


At what point are costs moving backwards?

And I’m not trying to be funny about that. I’m really wondering, because lately I’ve been hitting some tremendously stunning numbers that just don’t seem right.

Have you ever tried to print your own photographs?

Let’s say you bought some photograph paper. Picked out three images to print, each as a 4”x6”.

Right now, you could go to Walmart, and they have an ongoing offer where their one-hour service will print each of those 4”x6” images for nine cents each. That’s $0.09 a print, and $0.27 for the three.

You could by 4”x6” photo paper right now, and in many places 100 sheets will cost you between $12 and $14. That comes out to somewhere around $0.12 and $0.14 a picture, and you haven’t added in the ink you’re going to use.

How about placing them on 8½”x11” pages? Must be some savings there. Well, those costs are all over the place. Even the lowest quality of paper that size runs about $10 for fifty sheets. You can position three 4”x6” images onto a sheet, so that $10 would get you one-hundred-fifty pictures. Not bad at under $0.07 a picture, but… the price for this paper varies wildly, once again we haven’t considered the costs associated with ink, and you are going to need to cut the pictures on your own. At its best hit to your wallet, is ink and labor worth more or less than two-cents a picture?

Of course, we could shift this debate to the printer itself. A few days ago, my printer stopped working again. For no reason at all. The initial investigations said that I was having an issue with the driver for the unit. It ended up being resolved by repeatedly uninstalling and reinstalling the unit until it finally worked again. But the trickier part… the frustrating part… was that it worked barely eight hours earlier without issue, and then, suddenly, nope. As far as I could tell, nothing had changed, and it just didn’t want to work. And this was not the first time it happened… not the first time I tried to do my homework and truly find something wrong… not the first time it eventually worked by a reinstallation process of trial and fail.

Nieces and nephew came to visit a few years ago. Looking for some different and fun outdoor activities, we purchased some games. Badminton. Bocce. You get the idea. We also pulled out a croquet set that has been with us for more than twenty-years. We never had any issues using any of them. At no point did we have to stop playing croquet to download a critical update, or troubleshoot the badminton net to sort out an error of some type.

But here’s the printer. And quite honestly, right now I could go online and purchase a new unit for less than the cost of a set of ink cartridges. Is it really any wonder I’m tempted to pack up a flash drive and head to Walmart to print the shots at $0.09 each? Of course not. In fact, the only crazy part is that I want the shots as quickly as possible, so I drive over to do it instead of taking care of it online and having them shipped to my house in less than a week.

People will tell you how great it is to cook in your own home. Take making bread. If you break down the ingredients and add up the cost, it’s far less expensive to bake a loaf of bread in your own home. Plus, you get the house filled with the amazing scent of warm bread. You also get an incredibly fresh loaf of bread. One that is more nutritious, and you can customize the recipes a bit to form it to your personal tastes.

And we could go on. If you learn how to do things for yourself, there are all sorts of ways to save money by doing something on your own in your home.

That is, often with the exception of technology. And it can bring you to a grinding halt. During recent power outages, I kept reading posts from friends on social media about the challenges of keeping kids entertained when the devices doing the entertaining needed to be charged with no electricity available.

Maybe the world just hasn’t had the time to balance out the costs yet. Maybe. Home computer and cell phones, along with other items many of us consider necessary today, weren’t a part of everyday life three decades ago. No sooner did everyone have a printer in their own home than the world was beginning a massive shift to paperless options. That will toss a cost analysis into a spiral. (Never mind how many people and businesses still rely on fax communications.)

New and improved often comes with a cost. The real questions begin when the costs don’t add up.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at