Yesterday I received an education in the importance of office equipment, even for the home. My day began rather quietly. I had accepted that new employment listings would be quiet due to the Independence Day Weekend, so I sat down at my desk with every intention of doing some writing. Before opening Word, however, I turned to my e-mail as I always do and found an interesting note from the American Automobile Association.
It seems that AAA is now offering free office services including photocopying, fax services and notarial services. Good deals, it’s true, but not services that I thought I would ever really need. More to the point, the AAA office nearby, is not all that nearby, and I own an old, but still useful fax machine. I deleted the message and then went about my business.
About ten minutes later, the phone rang. I answered it and learned that some documents I had mailed off two weeks prior still had not arrived. Unfortunately, the documents were absolutely necessary for my sixteen year old son to receive housing for a three week out-of-state university academic program that he is attending. More importantly, the documents had to be received at the university offices within three hours from the time of the call, or my son would be denied housing — not something that would really work for us since my son had departed earlier in the morning for the program.
The university told me that I could scan the relevant documents and e-mail them. Unfortunately, I do not own a scanner. I then turned to Plan B and tried to fax the documents, but the university told me that my fax was transmitting too faintly for them to read the documents. As a result, I had to drive to a local UPS store where I was charged $20 to send a ten-page fax.
I immediately went out to purchase a new fax machine so that I never had to experience the horror of a twenty dollar fax again. Perhaps you should consider buying a few pieces of home office equipment that can save you some money, too. I suggest the following:
A basic fax machine
I paid under $50 for the fax machine that I purchased for the above incident. It works just fine and, had I invested in it sooner, I would have made back almost half of the cost with just one fax. Most fax machines also include a photocopying function which will help save on copying costs as well!
Scanners will allow you to digitize paper documents so that you can e-mail them or store them on your hard drive. They help to eliminate clutter and make it easier to transmit documents that you would otherwise have to fax, as I learned yesterday. Although scanners may cost hundreds of dollars, perfectly useful scanners can be found for under one hundred dollars and are often bargain priced on clearance table. (Of course, you can also find a fax machine that also includes a scanner and copier, too, but I always find that the more functions a product has, the greater the likelihood that it will break.)
A simple digital camera
Even if you are not a photographer, everyone should own a basic digital camera. For example, if you are working on a project at home, and need expert advice, you can photograph the problem area and then bring your camera to a hardware store so that the experts can actually see your problem. A digital camera will also allow you to take photos and store them on your computer without having to spend any money on development costs. Although you can pay thousands of dollars for a professional quality camera, you can get a good camera for under $150.
A ten page shredder
Identity theft is a very real risk and if it happens to you, you may spend years trying to fix the damage that an identity thief can do. Buy a shredder and make sure that before you throw anything into the trash, you shred every document containing personally identifiable information. A good shredder will cost less than $50 but the peace of mind that it offers will be priceless.
What other office machines can’t you live without? What machines are worth the cost of ownership?