Friday, 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!
How do YOU save on printing costs? We'd love to hear your ideas!

There are so many good comments and questions that I wanted to share a few...

Liz emailed with a great question:
Q: Hi, question about changing your printer settings. On some of the websites, I don't get the option... once I hit "Print your coupons," it just starts printing automatically. Do you know how I can change this? With other sites, it does bring up my normal print box and I am able to select grayscale. I would appreciate any help you can give me! I am a new subscriber to your website and I am loving it -- thanks so much!

A: You're right - it has always bothered me that most coupon sites don't give you a print screen to change the options! You'll need to change the default settings on your printer before you visit any coupon site or link. On my computer, I have to go to the Windows start menu (lower left corner of the screen), then to:
Control Panel
Hardware and Sound
Select Printing Preferences
Adjusting the print settings is usually on the "advanced" tab, depending on your printer. Your computer may be configured in a different way, but there should be some similarities. Try that and let me know if it works for you!

Melanie added a good point - ask around to see if anyone you know might have a laser printer that's no longer being used (a great idea, especially if you have computer-minded friends)!


  1. I re-use paper. When my sons bring home papers from school & it is blank on one side, I use that side to print coupons. I also save junk letters or other stuff in the mail to reprint on. Walgreens printed fliers can also be available. If I am there on a day after the sale has ended & they have a bunch of 8x11 fliers they are ready to trash I snag them (just ask first, they are very accomodating to my recycling). This has saved SO MUCH in paper.

  2. It's so funny to hear that there is someone else who saves every bit of paper and can get 3 coupons out of a page of paper like me :-) Thanks for all the work you do with your blog! I use your website often!!!!

  3. It's so funny that you posted about this as I was just looking into buying a new printer! I just refilled two ink cartridges at Cartridge World for $40 and was pretty upset at this high price (afterwards I compared buying compatible ink cartridges on eBay for half the price!). I am definitely going to buy a laser printer as I heard that toner doesn't need to be replaced nearly as much! Right now, the Brother that you recommended is priced at $84.79 on Amazon - do you think that is a good price?

  4. Printing on both sides helps me. I print a lot. So I will take my store lists that I have cut and paste from other sites, ads that printed out as coupons, etc. and reprint on the back whenever possible.

  5. Saving in the D -
    I've seen the Brother 2140 for $49.99 and the wireless 2170 model for $99.99 - so I'd wait and shop around a bit longer. But it is an excellent printer and we've been very happy with it. We actually have the wireless laser printer and it's SO NICE to send coupons to my printer from my laptop as soon as I see them!

  6. Don't forget to check for used laser printers, too. My husband works in IT and checked around with his coworkers to see if anyone had an old one laying around. Sure enough somebody did and that printer has been very busy ever since!

  7. Ok, great! I will be on the look out for some good deals. Thanks!

  8. I received a wireless Brother laser printer for my very first Mother's Day, just as I began m couponning journey- and I LOVE it! I've had mine for almost two years and it works like a dream!

  9. I have actually had my cartridge for my HP Deskjet printer refilled multiple times. Walgreens will often times have a -you guessed it- a coupon, for $9.99 per refill, for both black and white or color.

  10. Does the Brother have an easy cancel button? that was my favorite feature on my printer that just broke. Found the brother for 69.99, cheapiest so far, but i need one TODAY, so i might just go for it.

  11. No, there's only ONE button on the Brother and it's the power button! It's a very simple machine!

  12. What do you do for coupons with ads after them, do you just let them print? in the past i have always "cancelled" as not to waste extra paper/ink.

  13. My printer doesn't have a cancel button (though that's a nice option!). I cut my page into thirds and feed the coupon through manually. I still get the coupon, but miss out on all the ink wasted from printing the ad.

  14. I have 3 epson printers at home and work and have 3 continuous ink systems. I LOVE THEM!!! I can't emphasize that enough. I purchased the systems on ebay over the last year. They are after market ink tanks hooked up to silicone hoses that run to large bulk ink tanks. I print coupons all the time. Probably 50 pages tonight. Just this last month I had to refill the ink in the tanks. I bought the system a year ago!! That system cost about $100.00. My lastest cost $35.00. YES, $35.00 for a year of ink. I can save that much in one week of printable coupons. Simply type in the brand and model of ink plus the phrase "CISS" and see what is available for you. My prints are very clear. I haven't tried photos with it. The refill ink for the bulk tanks is CHEAP, like $5.00 per color per year. I have separate tanks for black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. My oldest system has 2 blacks. Check it out. It rocks!!! p.s. it doesn't void your warranty. There is an act "Magnuson-Moss" that protects you.
    Kris in Northern Indiana

  15. I've started using the 10 cent packs of lined paper I bought during the Back to School sales in August! Meijer accepted them without a problem! It's a great savings and I'll finally have something to do with ALL of those packs of paper that I think I *need* when they go on sale! Who can resist for only 10 cents?!? ;o)

  16. I just recently bought ink on Ebay for my printer b/c I was going thru ink soooo fast! I am a fairly new couponer, and was printing like every coupon I came across--I have since wised up! :) But, refilling them is super easy...the only thing is my Dell computer/printer doesn't acknowledge the newly filled cartridges, so it keeps saying they are empty which is annoying. BUT, I was able to buy ink for around $20 for both black and white AND color, which will give me about 3 refills. Normally I would pay probably $40 for a b&w/color cartridge combo X 3 ($120). So a considerable savings! And, thanks to the poster who said she uses her son's paper from school. I am always cutting it up into scrap paper, but that is a MUCH better idea! I have three boys in school and there is SO much paper waste that they bring home. Excellent idea!


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