A gallon of gas: $3.60 (roughly). A gallon of printer ink? Do you want to take a guess? Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Black printer ink costs an average of $2,700 per gallon. Granted, you don’t purchase it by the gallon (thank goodness or no one could afford it!) but that is a phenomenal cost that adds up QUICK. Especially if you are an avid coupon-printer like myself. We go through ink like it’s going out of style.
So what’s a frugal couponer to do? It seems counter-intuitive to spend that much in order to save a bit on your groceries. Here’s a few tips to help you save on the cost of printer ink.
1-Print in black and white: Unless your store mandates the printable coupons be in color (most don’t) you can print your coupons in black and white. Set your printer’s default to grayscale and you will save because you’re not eating up your color ink!
2-Buy off-brand ink at Amazon: This is something that some people are skeptical of, but you can save BIG bucks by purchasing off-brand ink from Amazon. We recently got 4 sets of ink cartridges for our printer (thats 2 black, 1 cyan, 1 yellow and 1 magenta per set) for $19.99. That’s less than you would pay for ONE CARTRIDGE let alone one set at most retailers. We have used them before, and they are FANTASTIC. Not one problem with them not working. You will want to check around and do your research for a company that sells cartridges compatible with your model of printer. That being said, if you have a fancy photo printer, you might be leery of this, so consider getting a free/cheap printer off of Craigslist or something just for printing coupons. (Try this at your own risk. In my personal experience, we have never had a problem, but proceed with caution: read reviews and make your own decision!)
3- Recycle your cartridges: If you’re going to purchase your ink at an office supply store like Staples or Officemax, make sure you are a member of their loyalty card programs, and recycle your ink cartridges. You will often get cash back for returning the empty cartridges for recycling.
4- Play with printer settings: As long as the barcode and fine print are legible, you can lower the print quality settings on your printer. There is no need to print documents and coupons on the highest setting. The “high quality” or “photo” settings are for printing detailed images and photographs–and are ink guzzlers! Play with the print settings to make sure barcodes are still scan-worthy, and save money by lowering your ink consumption.
5- Print multiple coupons at a time: If you’re printing coupons from Coupons.com, or any of the other printable coupon sites, don’t just print one coupon per page. Many times they include a half-page ad if you don’t print another coupon. That’s wasted ink! Look around before you hit print and see if there are other coupons your family might use (or maybe one for a friend!) that way you conserve ink and paper by only printing valuable coupons instead of wasteful advertisements!
**Bonus tip: If you need hundreds of copies of the same document, rather than printing digitally with a home printer or even a copier, consider offset printing. Generally there is a quantity discount in place if you are printing a very large quantity of the same exact thing (example: programs, fliers, etc.)
How does YOUR family save money on printer ink?