January 8, 2010

Reader Q & A: Could I Be Printing My Savings Away

Brother HL-2170W 23ppm Laser Printer with Wireless and Wired Network Interfaces

Carolyn recently emailed to say, "I'm wondering how you go about saving money on printing your coupons with ink being so expensive..." Of course, that's a GREAT question! Printer ink is expensive, and if you're printing in full color, you could be paying more to print the coupon than you're actually saving when you use it!  Since this information could benefit the rest of you, here it is:

  1. I've found that I use quite a bit of paper on printable coupons! Stock up on paper when prices are low, especially at the beginning of the school year. (At Staples this week, you can get a ream of paper for $1.00 after Easy Rebate - I'd recommend taking advantage of deals like these when you can!).

  2. Make good use of your paper scraps.  I like to use smaller scraps (half-sheets and third-sheets) and feed them manually through my printer to avoid the wasting ink on the large ad that prints after most Bricks coupons. If your printer has a "cancel" button, you can also quickly press cancel after the coupon has printed to eliminate the extra ink that an ad can use. Print on the back of already-printed paper to save as well (this doesn't affect the validity of your coupon as long as the print is clear).

  1. Printer ink makes up the major expense of coupon-printing, so you'll want to first make smart decisions about the coupons you'll print. If the coupon is for a product your family doesn't use (or you can't donate item to someone who will use it), then resist the temptation to print the coupon. Since the best high-value coupons disappear quickly as print quotas are met, deciding this can get a bit tricky. The more you use coupons, however, the better you'll be able to judge what you should and shouldn't print based on which coupons have gone unused in the past.

  2. Adjust your printer settings to an economy mode. Unless your store requires it as part of their coupon policy, there's no reason to print in color. Change your printer preferences to grayscale and lower quality (even draft) settings. As long as the bar code prints clearly, the coupon should still scan correctly. Print a few on a lower print setting and test them to be sure!

  3. Find the best prices on ink. If you're insistent on buying name brand cartridges, you'll find them at better prices on Ebay. If you're okay with compatible cartridges, you can save even more (example: my cartridge costs $75-90 for a name brand at a local office supply store, but I recently bought a compatible cartridge for $25 shipped from a reputable seller on Ebay). Some people have also had luck with refilling ink cartridges (I haven't tried that yet - please comment if you have!).

  4. If necessary, consider a new printer. When my inkjet costs were rising because of the number of coupons I was printing, I started comparison shopping. I looked not only at the cost of a new printer, but the cost of replacement cartridges as well. In the end, I saved up my Swagbucks and got a nice price on a laser printer without paying much out of pocket (Brother HL-2140 Personal Laser Printer - I love using Amazon's customer ratings to find a quality product!). We've been very pleased - not only is the cost per page significantly lower, the bar codes are much crisper!