How to save money on ink when printing coupons

Printable Coupons are really popular with retailers and consumers but the cost to print can really add up.

Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on the planet. If you do the math, you’ll find it costs thousands of dollars per liter.

Here are 10 sure ways to save money on printing.

1. Do not print if you can show your smartphone.

If you are redeeming a store coupon like Shoppers Drug Mart or using LivingSocial or Groupon, you don’t need to even print that coupon. Just flash your smartphone or tablet. This is really painless and will save you time.

Example of Paperless redemption with Groupon mobile app.

Why print out a coupon when you can have the local pharmacy or restaurant scan a barcode from your phone?

2. Print a selection of the page (just the coupon).

When printing in Internet Explorer or Firefox, select the section you want to print and, on the print range section of the print dialogue box, click Selection. This works with Microsoft Word and some other programs, too.

Do not use the “Print” icon unless you want to print the whole web page or email.

Select the portion of the web page that you want to print with your mouse. With everything selected (highlighted), go to the top menu line and click “File” / “Print”, in the print window that shows.

Choose the radio button for “Selection,” and then click the OK or Print button.

Use print “Selection” to save ink and paper.

3. Learn to refill your own cartridges.

It can be cheaper to get your printer cartridges refilled instead of buying new ones. However, the reliability of refilled cartridges is not always perfect. I used to own a simple inkjet printer and did this several times on the same black cartridge.

Example of ink refill kit.

Refilling your own cartridges is a low-cost alternative to buying new cartridges. A refill kit usually comes with a cartridge holder, bottles of ink and needles.

These kits can retail anywhere from $10 to $20 and they provide at least three refills (I received 5 from my $20 kit). You will have to weigh the cost of a new cartridge versus the time to refill the cartridge and cost of the refill kit.

It is not as “difficult” or “messy” as some people would make it seem. These kits are not as common as companies like Staples and Office Depot have in-store refilling of cartridges.

4. Print Coupons in increments of 3.

Many websites distribute printable coupons like Websaver.ca and Coupons.com and Smartsource.  The trick is that when you select 1 coupon to print, just 1 coupon will print on the page.  When you select 3 coupons to print, 3 coupons will print per page!

Sample Coupons.com printable coupon.

To maximize your paper use, try to print in increments of 3.

5. Review your Paper Settings in Printer Options

The paper settings for your printer can drastically change your ink usage.

Check your paper settings to get optimal ink usage.

Different papers have varying absorption levels and ink dispersion rates, which are pre-programmed into the printers. Open your printer options (Print – Properties – Paper type), and confirm it matches the paper you are printing onto.

6. Be colour-blind!

Avoid colour at all possible when printing a coupon at home. Retailers simply need to see the bar code (if provided), expiration date, conditions, value, and redemption address and instructions. As long as the coupon is legible that is what matters to them, they can live without the colour, so remember to select grayscale in your printing options.

Make sure you print in grayscale or draft mode. Avoid colour!

Remember that printing in grayscale or draft mode the coupon will print out lighter than on the regular setting, but it is still readable and saves on cartridge ink.

7. Re-use the back of scrap paper

At my work, so many junk faxes appear. Instead of just throwing them out or recycling these sheets, I re-use them (ultimate recycling).

Recycle paper – print on each side of the sheet to maximize paper use.

Who cares if the other side has a restaurant menu or a timeshare invitation to Orlando or a great deal on a will kit (I don’t know why we receive so many of these). Just put it back in your paper tray and watch your printing costs fall. This is environmentally friendly printing at its finest!

8. Reduce the size of the print-job

Another way to save is to reduce the size of your print job. You printer will allow you to set the size of the paper from the Scale to Paper Size dropdown. Zoom automatically scales the pages on the sheet without changing the layout or the formatting.

Print in batch to save money and paper.

Keep in mind that readability will depend on the number of pages you have set per sheet. I recommend 2 pages per sheet when printing coupons to still allow readability of the coupon for the retailer.

9. Ditch your ink-jet printer for an inexpensive laser printer.

If you do a large amount of printing and do not need the fancier features like scanning/copying or photos, a laser printer will be faster, sharper and cheaper than an inkjet.

If you plan on keeping a printer for a number of years, I recommend getting a more expensive laser printer over an inexpensive inkjet. The math boils down to how many pages you plan to print.

Compare the cost of a printer purchase at Printer.com (independent website).

The Web site Printer.com has a handy interactive tool that estimates the total cost of printer ownership over 5 years.

10. Track your printable coupon usage.

Today, we see so many printable coupons that I will bet so many couponers print too many and waste them by not redeeming them. I recommend doing an audit and finding out what coupons you actually use and print less.

Printing a lot of coupons can get expensive, far exceeding the cost of the machine, as the marketers have put the burden of the printing on you, the consumer.

What are your secrets for saving money on printing your coupons?

Steven Zussino

Steven Zussino is the co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. He loves to help Canadians save money on groceries. He also runs the blog, CanadianTravelHacking.com.

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