The "CISS" ink kit I went with is <$60 USD and if you’re a friend I’d obviously help you set it up… this unit has been working solidly for two years now.
Once you get your head around this ink tank thing, it’s a totally simple concept which just works… It feels SO awesome to finally flip the bird to the whole cartridge rat race and let your family crank out ink sucking job after job without a care in the world!
It took me a while to understand a couple things and I can save you the learning curve.
Once it’s setup you literally don’t have to think about ink ever again but for a level check every six months and dump in some more super cheapo bulk ink if anything is low.
The rare ink refilling moment is potentially a little messy if you miss the tank spout … but nothing major if you work the whole affair inside of a big Tupperware container or some such… and then you just dump any spillover down the sink because it’s so dirt cheap.
I’ve been getting replacement bulk ink for ~$15 per each 8 oz. bottle of color from Atlantic Inkjet.
8 oz is a ton of ink compared to a little cartridge… for reference, the cartridges for my Canon only hold 13 mL… that’s 0.43 oz… so a bottle is 18.6 times the size of a cartridge… if you assume you can get recycled cartridges at 1/3 retail (~$5) [Amazon reference]… you’d still be looking at $93 for the same amount of ink you get for $15 in a bottle… that’s a factor of 6 at least… I’m typically happy if I can cut a recurring expense in half… divide it by 6 and you’ve significantly changed the game.