Thursday, February 6, 2014

How To Save Money On Ink (My Cost For the Last Year: $50!)

I love printable coupons.  Many printables are high value or rare coupons that you can't find in the regular weekend inserts.  Other times, printables serve as a great opportunity for people to save who don't get the Sunday newspaper (or find their area's inserts are very thin compared to the weekly Sunday Preview).

However, I know printing all those coupons can add up so I thought I'd show you how I save on printing costs :)

For a long time, I was using an HP Inkjet Printer that I got free when I bought a new desktop computer.  Instead of buying a new cartridge every time I needed ink,  I would refill my cartridge at Walgreens for around $10.  (I believe they have raised the price since then.)  I thought I had it all figured out and was super happy with my discounted ink.

However, since I normally print all the coupons I post (to check for tech issues, exact wording, etc), I found myself refilling the cartridge two to four times per month.  When I look back now, I find that SOOOOO incredibly pricey.  Then, there was the fact that I was only able to refill my cartridge an average of three times until Walgreens would tell me it was too dirty and old to refill, and I needed to buy a brand new cartridge.

Well, fast forward to the beginning of 2011.  I, again, needed to buy a brand new ink cartridge because Walgreens told me they couldn't refill it.  This time it annoyed me because it was already new...I hadn't refilled it once.  I wondered to myself if it could have been the printer.  It was a few years old and had a lot of use (as you can imagine).

Then, my grandma and I were talking one day about all the old photos my grandparents had lying around.  She wasn't sure what to do with them and wanted to make copies for everyone in the family.  I told her I'd look into getting a scanner...remembering I had always wanted one for my old photos :P

I ended up coming across a super sweet deal on a Canon 3 in 1 printer for $28 with FREE S&H from Walmart.  I thought it was a rare opportunity and snatched it up fast.  I later found out this printer goes on "sale" for that price all the  (It looks like it's not available now, but you might be able to find it in the store or another website.)

The printer took a couple weeks to arrive, and I had fun scanning my pics.  It came with black and color cartridges too so I had fun printing my coupons and basking in my sweet deal.  After all, replacement ink cartridges for my original HP Printer would have been in that same price range and I ended up with a scanner and copier through the deal. 

Everything was fine and dandy...until I ran out of ink, took it to Walgreens and was informed that they do not refill Canon ink cartridges.  My heart dropped thinking I hadn't made such a wise investment after all.

I gave in to the idea that I was destined to buy new cartridges every time I needed a refill (or until I bought a different printer).  I had recently bought a voucher for Ebay through a Groupon deal and decided to browse around and  save a little money on Canon cartridges if I had to buy them.

I typed in my printer model...and kept coming across ink refill kits.  I had heard about them from my Grandpa for years (he's one of those old, cool tech guys who was burning CD's and DVD's before anyone I knew).  But he used his extra diabetic syringes and a coffee can of ink.  His own homemade ink refill kit.  I didn't know that they actually sold these ink refill kits in a convenient little package and felt a bit sheltered :P
I ended up finding a kit with syringe bottles for around $15 shipped.  They only took a few days to arrive and the instructions were pretty easy to follow.  I was able to refill my cartridge in about 10 minutes...and have never looked back since.  That was March of 2011...1 year ago.

Those three bottles lasted me until November of 2011 when I ordered another shipment (for $15).  I was able to refill the same cartridge again and again until last month when it seemed it was getting dirty/clogged so I bought a new one from Target.  I expect to be able to refill it for quite a while based on past experience :)

In 1 year's time...This is what I have spent on ink:
2 Black Ink Refill Kits, $15 shipped from Amazon
1 New Black Cartridge Refill from Target (when the old one was too dirty and clogged), $20

So $50.  For one year of ink.   And I use my printer every day and print lots of coupons :)  That used to be my monthly budget at Walgreens when I was using them to refill my HP Printer.   And that $50 cost is not factoring in the Groupon voucher I used for my Ebay purchase or the Target gift cards I used to buy the new  If you want to factor those discounts in, my final cost is half of that :)

All in all, I highly recommend using ink refill kits.  And I LOVE my Canon MP250 so if you're in the market for a printer, I suggest you start there :P

These are just a few other tips to help you save on ink:
  • Print your coupons in black & white.  I never ever print my coupons in color and have never had an issue at the store.
  • Adjust your printer settings to use less ink.  Every printer is different so you'll have to play around with your preferences/settings.  There is usually a setting called "print quality."  I have mine adjusted to the lesser quality (which uses less ink).
  • Never turn off your printer until it completes its cycle.  If you unplug it or turn it off while the cartridge is still moving, it will stop exactly where you left it.  Sometimes this can cause the printer head to dry out (or an ink leak).
I hope this article helps you a bit to save some ink.  Be sure to leave a comment if you have other suggestions.  And stay on the lookout for a future article on how to save on paper when printing coupons :)

*This post may contain affiliate links...they are what helps to keep South Suburban Savings alive! However, I do my best to only post credible deals, and I participate in most of them myself. To see my full disclosure policy, CLICK HERE!

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