April 5, 2010

Saving Money on Ink

MaxPerks - Rewards for Teachers and BusinessAt my most recent coupon workshop, I answered a question about saving money on ink.  I wasn’t able to give much time to answer this question fully.  I’ve included some of my best tips and resources below.  If you know of others, please add them to the comments section:

  • Sign up for office supply stores loyalty programs.  Office Max Perks is probably my favorite, followed closely by the Staples Rewards program.  Every so often they offer discounts and deals on ink.  Sometimes you can even score free after rebate ink cartridges!  I’ve “purchased” cases of free copy paper, file folders, and many other office supplies for free because of joining these free programs. 
  • Refill the ink cartridge instead of buying new.  A friend tried filling the cartridges at home and said that the job was too messy for the discount—not worth the trouble for her. Since she’s one of my most frugal friends, I’m taking her word for it.  I looked all over Knoxville to find a store to refill the type of cartridges we have.  Rapid Refill and Cartridge World stores were either out of business or were not catering to individuals anymore.  They were only refilling for business accounts.  If you are lucky enough to have a more generic brand of cartridge, you can try and fill them at places like Walgreens and some office supply stores.  Walgreens regularly runs deals on ink refills. Sometimes they are free after register rewards and sometimes they are free with a purchase. 
  • Use less ink.  Realize that printing coupons costs money.  Don’t indiscriminately print.  Ask yourself if you will really use the coupon before the expiration date.  When you are printing a document for review, change the properties so that it prints in draft format.  Change your fonts so that you are using one with less “weight”.  Bigger, bolder fonts use more ink in the long run.  Ask yourself if you need to print a document in color or not.  If not, switch over to black and white only under the properties settings.  Some stores and/or cashiers will not take black and white only printable coupons.  Cancel the print as soon as your coupon has completed printing (I learned this fantastic tip from Coupon Katie).  This helps to avoid all of the other advertisements and recipes printing on  your dime.
  • Print at the photo store instead.  Prints of photos use a lot of ink.  If you will be printing more than one, use the handy-dandy Walgreens on line service.  E-mail them the jpeg of the photos you wish to print and make note of how many you want.  You can even use discount coupon codes, which are often found in the sales ads.  You can sign up for e-newsletters for your favorite photo printing places to stay up-to-date on the sales, deals, and discount codes. 
  • Print at the store.  When you need to browse through a gift registry, print it at the store instead of at your home.  Not only will it be the most updated it can be, but it will also save you a little ink.
  • Alter the page if you need to AND if it is legal.  Sometimes I’ll cut and paste information from sites like Mapquest so that the ads do not appear.  I can also change the font to be of less weight when doing so.  When you print directions, make note that the maps included are often pretty vague.  Keep a good map or atlas in your car and just print the basic turn-by-turn directions.  Or, if they are short, write them down by hand.  It takes about as long to hand write them as it does to queue the printer and wait.
  • Photocopy instead of print.  If you need multiple pages of the same document (WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT PRINTABLE COUPONS HERE!), you might do better paying for a photocopy at a place like Kinkos.  Note that photocopying printable coupons is basically coupon fraud—not good!
  • Use coupons.  Whenever I need to buy something, I ask myself how I can get it for cheaper.  Look for store coupons that might help you to purchase the ink cartridges for less than full price.  If your store doesn’t offer store coupons, ask if they will honor competitor’s coupons.
  • When you need to buy a new printer, look at the cost of the cartridge.  A company makes the most money on the back-end of the printer purchase.  See what you’ll be paying for a full refill of ink before you choose.
  • Don’t abuse the system.  Some companies and businesses are very strict about what you print and photocopy at work.  Ask your employer about the company policy.  One place that I work has a very strict, not for personal use policy.  Yet, when I asked my new employer about printing an occasional coupon at work, she was happy to oblige.  If your employer will allow you to print at work, don’t abuse the system.  Don’t run the company’s ink dry.  When you do get freebies and deals from places like Office Max and Staples via the rewards program, share some of the wealth with your employer as a return to the favor. 
  • Look at the cost of purchasing ink on line.  Some companies will refill on line. Some offer deals and bargains for bulk purchases.  Others run occasional sales.  Type in the name brand of your ink cartridge and do a little search to see what deals are out there. 
  • Look at places like Craig’s list.  Sometimes people switch to a different printer and want to get rid of the old printer and/or ink.  If the printer is free, ask if the ink is still in the printer.  You could pick up the printer, use the ink, and donate the rest.  Send out a request on Craig’s List or Freecycle for the type of ink that you use.  One of the places I work is a large system of behavioral health care.  When someone has an extra ink cartridge they no longer need, they post it to the e-mail list.  These are sometimes scooped up within minutes.  You might be surprised at what you get just from asking others.  Remember, it never hurts to ask!

What are your best tips?  Where do you like to buy your ink cartridges?  Do you have an experience with filling ink cartridges yourself?  Share your best tips in the comments section. 


  1. As a matter of fact, I have several 94/95 HP ink cartridges that fit our old printer. I had made the mistake of stocking up and then the printer died. Still in the wrapper. If any of your readers want a deal, email me at mmslattery@yahoo.com!

  2. Thanks Margaret! I'll let you know if any of them send me an e-mail. ;)

  3. The easiest and most reliable way is to use Compatible Ink Cartridges or remanufactured ink cartridge for your printer.
    Because they are low in price and good in performance as like OEM.

  4. I'm the owner of Rapid Refill Ink of Knoxville, Alcoa, and Sevierville. We certainly cater to individuals as well as businesses! All of our products have a 60-day satisfaction guarantee.

    We thoroughly clean, inspect, and test all our inkjet cartridges before reselling them. Most instant refill places don't do the cleaning, because it's time-consuming and messy. However, uncleaned cartridges build up ink sludge over time, and this contributes to print head failure.

    Give us a try at Rapid Refill Ink (865-694-4465). Print this article and bring it in for an instant $3.00 off coupon.


  5. Thanks so much for the tip on canceling after your coupon prints, I don't print much, but I hate that it wastes my ink on their advertisments!