F.A.Q: Saving On Printer Ink

Today’s Frequently Asked Question is from reader Maryann.  She says that she goes through a lot of ink in her printer.

Saving money at the grocery store does come with an expense.  Whether it’s buying extra newspapers here or there, using a little extra gas to drive to a store with a better deal or even using more ink to print coupons.  But, the amount we save far outweighs the amount we have to spend in order for us  to save.  I like to think of it as an investment.  I figure (roughly) that I spend about $8 – $10 per week on inserts, ink and extra gas but I save almost $200 per week in groceries (compared to the amount I used to spend before couponing).  I’d say that the $8 – $10 a week investment is worth it.

Now, a good business person would sit down and figure out how to reduce those expenses even more.  And that is just what reader Maryann is trying to do.    So here is this week’s F.A.Q:

I have to replace my ink cartridge about every 2 weeks. What are some tips for saving on printing costs.

How do you save on your printing costs?  Is it a particular printer that is better?  Do you buy generic ink or have them refilled?  Let us know your money saving secrets for low cost printing.

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  • What has worked out for us is the staples deal, you can turn in 10 empty ink cartridges a month. For each one they give you $3.00 credit. So we get $30.00 credit to staple and I stock up on paper and ink. It does take about 3-4 weeks to receive your credit.

  • Kristy

    I have my printer settings set at “Quick Print” and Black Ink Only. This way, it uses the least amount of ink possible. The coupons don’t look as crisp and pretty, but the stores accept them just the same.

    • Maria

      This is what I do too… At first, I was thinking that the scanner wouldn’t read the code if I print this way… but the scanner does read the code printed in draft or quick print mode.

  • Sandy

    I have a Brother HL2140 inkjet printer which uses toner. One toner cartridge yields approx 2500 copies for about$45.00 on Amazon.com. My printer only prints in black so no need to buy any color cartridges ever again. I will have to replace my drum eventually for about $80 . Amazon by far has the cheapest cartridges, no tax & free shipping as I have compared prices relentlessly – my Staples Rep. even agrees she can’t beat their prices! HL 2140 on sale this week at Staples & Amazon matched the price!

  • Mary

    My printer has a low toner mode setting and I use that whenever I have the option. I also order my toners from Amazon–it’s the least expensive I’ve found for the kind I have.

  • Melissa B.

    I went from an ink jet printer to a laser. The cartridges cost more, but it lasts me about 6 months compared to two weeks. 🙂 I save paper by printing the most possible coupons on a page ie.) you print one on one side one on the opposite end if you are only printing one coupon at a time. 🙂

  • Allison

    I have an HP and the black cartridges run generally around $20-25. I discovered my local Walgreens does ink cartridge refills. I used a $4 off coupon from the circular and refilled my cartridge for $8.99 last week. I’ve been pleased with the results so far… and much happier with the cost!

  • Tricia

    I buy generic ink on Ebay for about $2.75 a cartridge (you have to buy 5-10 at a time). Then when they are empty I bring them to be recycled at Staples, and they give you $3.00 in a rewards certificate! I always make money on ink!

    • Anonymous

      @Tricia, Please, how do u get your ink on ebay? Do I have to sign up for that. Thanks a lot.

  • JG

    I buy non-oem ink from amazon (multiple cartridges at a time). I also use both sides of the paper when printing one coupon, use black ink only (when the option is available) and place my printer on the quick print setting.

    Actually, this leads me to a question…
    I have a Canon Pixma MP620. I can usually set the settings so that I can print my coupons in black and white. When I print coupons from coupon mom (and a few other random sites), however, despite my “grayscale” print selection the coupons come out in color. Anyone know why or how to fix it?

    • Keisa


      When the printer approval screen comes up do you go to preferences and click on grayscale? I have a Cannon too, and that is what I do to keep it black all the time.

  • I tried to print fast draft but they wouldn’t scan so I have to ‘fast normal’ on my HP printer. I just stocked up from staples. I had $25 off $100 coupon plus it is double rewards right now on HP ink. So I spent $83 I think, but will get $16.60 back plus $3 times 4 cartridges (3 black, 1 color) so a total of $28.60 back meaning they cost me about $55. I thought it wasn’t bad but I’ll have to check out eBay!

  • Justin

    Forget inkjet and find a laserjet. Laserjets use toner rather than ink. Toner lasts longer so in the end it is way cheaper! I own a Samsung ML-2510. I was able to find it brand new for $65. The cost included a starter toner that let me print 1000 pages. The full size toner cartridge is rated for 3000 pages. If my math is correct I can print for about 2 cents a page, and if I can score a few $1 reams at Staples this week it will be even cheaper. I’m sure there are even better laserjets now so do your research and make sure to pay close attention to cost of toner for that model and how many pages its rated for.


    Lately I have been refilling my cartridges at Walmart. Seems to last a little shorter time than the originals, but still by far outweighs the cost. There is always a coupon on the refill box for 50% off your next refill, so I just keep turning around and using that. I get a refill of B&W that was for $6.50

  • Saryn

    I also have an HP printer. I stack the Riteaid Video Values and Rite Aid Manufacturer Coupons from Red Plum to get my ink cost down. I also experienced an issue with scanning the coupons when choosing the fast draft option. I am getting ready to replace my printer and the ink costs are definitely a consideration.


  • Danielle

    I just started doing big couponing in the last two months. The ink usage is feels out of control to me. Thanks for this one!

    I have a question that may be printer specific, but wanted to put it out there. I have an HP 4680 inkjet printer. I have set my printer default at draft. When coupons print from almost all the sites, it still prints in “presentation” mode, which is best quality and uses the most ink. It seems to me that somehow the sites are overriding my default setting and still printing the coupons in the highest quality. Has anyone else experienced this or know of what I need to do to stop this? Thanks.