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Lots of Ways to Save on Printer Ink (Plus, Share Your Money-Saving Tips!)

2:47 PM MST
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

If you’re looking to save on printer ink (from printing all those coupons ;-) ), here are a few helpful tips for ya! Also, be sure to check out the recent Facebook post here for even more helpful tips from Hip2Save readers. Here are a few tips…

Inkjet Versus Laser Printer:

Many of you have stated that the longest lasting, most reliable, and most affordable (in the long run) printers are laser printers! Although laser printers may cost more initially, they tend to be faster, use less ink, and are much cheaper on a month to month basis (i.e. cost of inkjet cartridges versus laser toner cartridges).

Helping You Find the BEST Printer:

* Top 5 Printers
* Guide to Top 10 Printers in 2013
* Best Printers under $100 if you’re on a Budget

Continuous Flow System:

Already have an inkjet printer? Then you may want to consider a Continuous Flow System. This system will help you save big bucks on printer ink as it eliminates the need for replacement ink cartridges. For more information on this economical system, click here.

Best Places to Purchase Ink:

* – currently offering up FREE shipping!

Tips on how to Save Money on Ink and Paper:

* One tip that I have is that I enable a Print Preview for each document. It makes the printing process longer, but I can tell if a coupon is printing at the top, middle, or bottom of the page. That way I can use half sheets if a coupon is printing from the top.

* For the one-page ads with a single coupon on the page, I cut my paper into 4’ sections. That way the coupon prints at the top and then stops. Of course, sometimes you get a coupon that prints at the bottom. I try to only use the cut paper on coupons that I know will print at the top. If I am printing a coupon and I see that there is an ad below it, once the coupon prints, I hit STOP on my printer.

* The trick to making your ink last longer is to set your printer to print in grayscale, black ink only, and to print in Fast Draft mode. I have my cartridges refilled at Walgreens. Before I take a cartridge to the store, however, I use a little rubbing alcohol on the ports of the cartridge to prevent dry ink from clogging the ports (where the ink is inserted). Works like a charm.

* Use Garamond font in a small size…it takes less ink than other fonts.

* If you decide to refill your cartridges, get the refill done ASAP. If you wait too long, the remaining ink dries out.

* Refill your own cartridges (buy the ink in bulk at a discount!), which saves a LOT of money.

* There is a trick (found on YouTube) to make your OEM toner last longer (usually runs out after 300 sheets or so): Buy the toner on when a multi-pack special is offered (less than $14.99/toner with free shipping). This special is offered regularly along with free shipping. We’ve NEVER EVER had any problems using their non-brand toner. The trick is to order when it is on sale and before you need it as the toner comes from overseas and takes a few weeks to get here.

* For anyone out there who has toner cartridges, when the printer states that the toner is low, take the cartridge out and look for a little “window” on the side. Cover it with a piece of black electrical tape, and you’ll get MANY more pages of ink out of it. The window lets light in and tells the owner to buy a new cartridge but, in reality, there is still plenty of toner in the cartridge.

What are some ways you save on printer ink? Please Share!

Keep in mind that if you want to easily access this post in the future, be sure to save it to your Hip List. You can also access it (and other reader’s tips and picks posts) by clicking on the orange “Show All Categories” button on the right sidebar and then clicking on “Reader’s Tips & Picks.”

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  • Ashley57 says:

    To save on paper, I reuse the other side of school papers, junk mail, etc. Anything that has all public or not important information. I am rarely questioned on it, and it has never stopped me from using a coupon.

    • Suzanne H says:

      I always do this – I get some looks but I just say “Hey, I recycle!” The cashier usually laughs.

    • Mel says:

      Good idea! I never thought to do that

    • Kitty says:

      I totally do this too!

    • Rose says:

      me too i even try to use those hard paper will not so hard but if anyone did the free calendar the race cars the large it had a paper
      and it felt so nice the coupon and

      i bought Canon Printer for $76+ this last Black Friday sale and i started using the printer in December and finally 2 weeks ago the printer was showing “low out of ink sign” yet i ignored that and still printing

      last time i remember i had HP printer which i still do ran out of ink in less then 1 month even though i changed everything about it to use less ink!

      Canon is the best plus i already had ordered ink thinking just like HP printer ink ran out the canon would do the same but so far i printed 300+ pages with about 900+ coupons or more and school project and the ink is still good!!!

      only bad thing about Canon AND GOOD thing about HP

      Canon wont print from iPhone coupon from APP
      HP will Print from iPhone coupon from APP

    • Nina says:

      I do it too..I get paper from work when my boss is about to throw random coloring sheets out and I reuse the other side (kids would rather do nothing than reuse a piece of paper) I have only been questioned once and said “Hey I’m recycling”

  • coleen6000 says:

    If I am printing coupons from Target or Smartsource, they usually print 3 per page. I make sure I print in multiples of 3 to maximize my paper usage.

  • Britt says:

    I have a HP Deskjet 1050 All-in-One printer. I bought it for like $25 from Walmart two years ago. It uses HP 61 ink. I bought ink online once from one of those sites and the cartridge absolutely did not work, so I’ve been stuck with buying the expensive ink. My printer isn’t sold anymore and is pretty rare, but has anyone else had experience with it or at least using the knock-off HP 61 ink successfully? Thanks!

    • rebecca S. says:

      I have that exact same printer, bought it a year ago. I’ve never tried the knock off hp 61. But, my Walmart sells the black ink for $15. I find the printer to be horrible though. Mine likes to take 5 minutes to print 1 page.

    • ibz says:

      I also have the HP1050. It is still sold at Walmart and a few other places. Have never had a print issue nor does it seem slow to print. I never have any luck with the generic cartridges and since I had one leak all over a sofa (!), I’ve never bought anything but OEM. Ebay and Amazon are pretty good for price.

    • Nisha says:

      I have the exact same printer and I just ran out of the ink last weekend. What do you mean by hp61 didn’t worked and you bought expensive ink? Its manual saya that it uses hp61

      • llc says:

        I didnt have luck with the cheap ink for my HP printer either. I buy my ink on ebay. I can get it much cheaper than any sale anywhere. I can get get both color and black 60 XL for $35 shipped. Its $85 plus tax at Walmart.

      • ibz says:

        Hi, Nisha. The OEM HP 61 cartridges are fine; it is the generics that you find at 123Ink, 4Ink, etc. that don’t work for me. I made the mistake of putting an old HP 750 on my sofa (yeah, I know) when I moved it and it made a stain the size of Cleveland (LOL) on the cushion.

    • Mar says:

      Have you tried amazon because that is where we order our ink from! :0

    • Gloria says:

      Yes, ALLOT and I mean ALLOT of people have had horrible success with HP. I honestly think it is not their best work for software. Imo, I think you should upgrade to a better print that is NOT HP. I have seen many great reviews on: Brother, Epson, Canon, and Lexmark. Gives you a huge variety to choose from. Btw staples will be the best place to shop for these, especially since they have a rewards program. I know this message is delayed, but hey, I just saw it :P.

  • Kathy says:

    I bought a Brother Laser when it was on sale at one of the office stores. I used the black tape trick (YouTube video shows you how) and have had printer for over 2 years and just now replaced the toner it came with. This is with my major coupon printing and my husband printing college work. I also do the office max rewards program and get the cases if paper for pennies after rewards every time it is offered. I am able to keep myself and my church in paper for very little.

    • Leslie says:

      Wow, I will definitely have to get a laser printer, may I ask what model yours is?

      • Kathy says:

        It is a Brother HL2140. We love the quality and the savings over our old ink jet. I had a lot of problems with coupons not scanning with my ink jet and no more problems since switching to the laser.

        • Kathy says:

          I will warn you that I looked on Amazon and it is saying this printer is over $200. I know that we paid less than $50 when we bought it at one of the office stores on sale.

        • karol says:

          I have the brother hl-2240 laser and it is unbelievable, even when it says ink is getting low, I still have a month left and I print tons of coupons, another thing I do with the other printers is cut the single coupon off and re use the paper for a one or two coupon thing and use that paper for lists and comparing stores with cpns, etc . It never gets wasted, I just need to remember where I put these lists, lol. sometimes I will paper clip the cpns on the store related lists with the sale deals. Always helps me at CVS, my favorite store for deals.

      • Summer says:

        I have a Brother wireless HL 22700W laser printer. Less than $90 at Amazon around Christmas. I’ve only had it a short while, but I am very happy with it. Picked it up because my HP inkjet wouldn’t print coupons that scanned, and it sucked ink.

    • Misty says:

      I am also in the fence of buying a laser printer. Kathy, it will be helpful to me if you can share what model you have. TIA.

      • Kathy says:

        It is a Brother HL2140. We love the quality and the savings over our old ink jet. I had a lot of problems with coupons not scanning with my ink jet and no more problems since switching to the laser.

        • Kathy says:

          I will warn you that I looked on Amazon and it is saying this printer is over $200. I know that we paid less than $50 when we bought it at one of the office stores on sale.

      • Jana says:

        Not Kathy, but I have 2 laser printers. This is the laser printer I have at home: I got it on sale about a year ago for 49.99, so it was actually cheaper than a toner cartridge, I still haven’t had to replace the toner yet. I really was first drawn to it because of its compact size.

        At my office I have a canon imagclass laser and while I love it, that thing is huge. It is an all in one and it works like a workhorse, the toner cartridges for it are like $85 but it gets about 2000 pages per cartridge. (toner says 2500, I always feel they exaggerate a bit)

        • Ashley57 says:

          I would recommend the one Jana suggests as well. Here is a refurbished one for $30 cheaper:

          • VictoriaF says:

            2240 is great and cheap when on sale, but it’s not wireless. If you have computers in different rooms, I wouldn’t recommend it. I own 2270, it goes on sale for $75 (orig.$150) at Best Buy, Staples, Amazon. It is wireless and it’s terrific! It comes with a starter cartridge. Brand new high yield toner TN450 costs about $43 on Amazon. With three computers, printing each coupon twice (total 6 of each coupon), my toner is more than one year old now and is still going strong! I set it to “Toner Save Print Mode” right away. Also, I “tricked” my toner after I got a warning message to replace it and got additional months of life. I am very grateful to someone who left a comment on previous hip2save post about “tricking” your toner/printer. If not for this hip2save reader, I would know nothing about it. Tape won’t work, because these toners don’t have a window to cover. They have a slowly rotating gear on the side of the cartridge and this gear can be easily reset by turning it backwards manually. There are tons of videos on youtube, explaining it. HTH :)

      • Mar says:

        Jumping in here but I have a HP Photo-smart 5514, purchased on sale at best by for a little under $100.00, all in laser print. Use it for college, my kids for their school, work, husband for work, and of course my coupons. I try and squeeze as much as I can by following some step like Collin suggested and I must say at least every 4-6 months I buy the blank ink only regular price 10.99 at Best Buy. However I don’t buy the ink their unless I have too or I have 5.00 rewards saved up. I buy ink from Amazon by the stack 4 to 6 for 5.00 to 10.00 of black Ink. Here lately I have been getting those $5.00 certificates from Best buy rewards for answering their User Poll. I now have 40.00; so tomorrow I will be going and purchasing all that in ink. I believe I will be good for about a year to two years or more. Two years ago my husband found an unbelievable good deal on the internet for $17.00 free shipping we got about 10 black inks and it last us almost two years. I was worried about it drying or something of that nature but they worked just fine.

  • Adina says:

    I found that covering the windows tip on an Amazon review a little while ago – and loved it – it worked like a charm! It doubled the life of the toner!

  • sara says:

    I also use the tape trick on my toner and it has worked well for me. I always get lots of free paper from staples and officeMax.

  • Kitzos says:

    I refill my own ink cartridges for almost all printing needs except pictures.The best printer to me for use with refills and off market cartridges and no problems with clogging are the Epson Artisan series printers. I have an Artisan 725 artic edition, the best ink jet printer I have owned.

  • Suzanne H says:

    We used to have an ink jet printer but always had bad luck with the ink cartridges blowing up all over the place or drying up, etc. We bought a laser printer from Costco for next to nothing. It works like a dream and the toner cartridges last for AGES. NEVER replace the cartridges when they say “low” – always wait for them to totally run out. The printer will stop and tell you to replace it – it doesn’t cause any damage to wait until it’s totally out.

    • Misty says:

      Hi Suzzane, I will be glad if you can share the brand and model of the printer you have so that I can look into buying one. I am tired of changing the catrigges of my HP desk jet which drinks and eats ink like anything. TIA.

  • mel says:

    unfortunately, with my laser printer, I can’t do a “print preview” of coupons, unless it’s a PDF. Like with my old epson, I had the preview option and whenever I printed from, bricks coupons, even, I could preview the coupons, very helpful to stop a coupon if there’s an ad underneath. I can’t stop with my laser , unless I am lightening fast, once it hums, it goes! For those pages, I reuse the other side for another coupon. I also print on the back of school newsletters. I’ve had my laser printer for 2 yrs now and I *just* replaced the starter toner. I’m the only one that prints anything, except for occasional school reports for the kids or stuff for my parents. I didn’t know about the black tape trick, I’m sure I could have gotten more use out of the starter toner! Will keep that tidbit filed away whenever the light starts blinking “toner”!

  • rn30032 says:

    always click the “help” button to see if the q is mailable…that has saved me a lot

  • Demi says:

    I use a laser printer at work and when the toner starts to run low and the printing is streaky we take it out and shake it. Maybe 5 or 6 shakes redistributes the toner and it prints like new for at least another 200 pages. You can typically do this 4-5 times (will give less prints each time) before the cartridge finally dies. Word of warning: Often (especially upon repeated shakes) the toner will begin to come out in a dust, this can get messy. I feel like this happens more frequently with off-brand cartridges.

    • rebecca says:

      yes, i do this, too. and it’s true, i get several hundred more sheets printed after shaking and reinserting the “low” toner.
      so, take a large paper towel and wrap it around the cartridge before you shake it. this catches all the dust that can sometimes come out loosely when you shake it. the inky dust stains and smears terribly, so if you wrap the cartridge first you prevent the ink from settling on your clothes, hands, and office furniture!

      and i always print coupons on the back of school worksheets and flyers that we don’t need.

  • hon hall says:

    I just saw on the news last night that goodwill has computer stores and they sell unopened new ink for $3.00 up. I think its called goodwill computer can just Bing it to find a location near you can take your old hardware in for a tax write off while you are there.

  • Dawn says:

    I have a very old HP 1200 that was used when I got it. The last cartridge I bought was in August. When it gets low, it starts to do a stripe of faded/light print. I take it out and shake the cartridge. It has been low for a week and I just keep doing it until I don’t get clear prints anymore. The last cart lasted 6 months. I get them from ebay or amazon for $15 total.

  • Chelsea says:

    I use – they have incredible deals on ink and refillable cartridges!!!

  • Jenny says:

    I was paying almost $15 for one ink cartridge for my brother printer from Best Buy. I went to Amazon and discovered if I typed in ink cartridges compatible with my printer and found generic brand cartridges for way less. I have been able to find packs of 12 for less than the cost of one from Best Buy. I have been using these for 2 years with no problems!!

  • stacy says:

    I got 2 ink cartridges for 11 shipped – ebay

  • Marge says:

    I have a Canon inkjet printer. When the printer stops and says to replace the ink cartridge I take it out and shake it. It lasts much longer after that. BUT, it’s IMPORTANT to remember to cover the port with a piece of tape or your thumb. I forgot one time and had ink everywhere including spots all over my face! Luckily it washes fairly easily.

  • Kathy says:

    I am afraid to buy a monochrome (B&W) laser to print coupons. Do people still get accused of copying or of not printing them as they are suppose to be? I live in a small market area (little ‘city’) and wonder how cashiers and managers will react. Anyone have any encouragement/discouragement?

    • Kelly A. says:

      I have been printing in black and white for a couple of years and let me tell you, it saves so much money. I was spending about $30 in ink every other month, now I buy an off brand laser cartridge for about $15 from Amazon which is going on about nine months now. We have an HP1505N and it works great. I never get a cashier questioning my coupons, and sometimes I use multiples of four of each coupon (2 computers). The rare times when I do get a look, I let them know I have a black and white printer and they don’t hassle me. If they do, remind them of the little numbers on the coupon that link that IP to your computer. If one were dumb enough to photocopy IP’s, they would have the same number linking it back to their computer and getting them in a lot of trouble.

    • ina says:

      I’ve used many black and white coupons with no problem–I make sure the quality is good enough so that the bar code is dark though.
      But I’ve had a few “problems” using printed coupons at SAVEMART–the last coupon I was questioned on–they even called the manager!–was black and white and printed on scratch paper. That was my first time being treated like a coupon scammer :), and I don’t find them “coupon friendly” in general, so I don’t use printed coupons at their store anymore.

  • Jen says:

    i have found the canon pixma series to be VERY efficient in coupon printing. i was lucky enough to get a brand new 3600 at a yard sale for $15…and was stoked when i found out that i can get a set of 5 cartridges (colors are separate, blue, red, yellow and 2 blacks) for $3.00!!! i order them from amazon and they last for a couple of months. i tried color printing vs black/white and found color to be a lot cheaper. i have 3 different canon pixma printers and each one takes very cheap cartridges. ive even printed pictures out and was fairly impressed how well the cartridges hold up. then to top it all off each cartridge gets you $2 from staples for recycling…can you say moneymaker?!

  • I Love Shoes says:

    I have a laser printer. This really helps me save. Also to save on ink, I requests gift cards to places like Staples, Amazon, and Office Depot s holiday and birthday gifts.

  • sandy says:

    Best Buy (FB page) is offering rewards points (25) every day for taking a poll. When you reach 250 pts you receive a $5 certificate. I’ve accumulated $15 worth of certificates. I’m going to purchase my ink with that. I also recycle my ink cartridges @ Staples ($2 for each cartridge). Helps lower the OOP cost of my next ink purchase as well. I also use my Target Shopkick gift cards (500 kicks for $2 gc) to purchase ink there. There are a TON of ways to lower your OOP cost on ink when you take advantage of all these rewards programs :) HTH

  • Crystal Raine Finster says:

    I buy my ink on amazon for around $6 if I’m buying the full range 5 pack, and $5 if I just want a 3 pack of the main black cartridge. I do not agree with printing on a lower setting. I print on a high quality setting, bc walmart, dillons (kroger), target, cvs, and walgreens couldn’t get the normal setting coupons to scan. A lot of places won’t take your coupons if they don’t scan, and for whatever reason typing them in never seems to work. I like the idea of doing print preview to decide what size paper to use though! Ever since I bumped my printing quality to the highest setting, I have not had a problem getting any coupons to scan.

  • Audrey says:

    I bought a laser printer for couponing, it is a hp laser jet 1102w I think or p1102 anyways it was $99 on Amazon and it uses 85A toner that they sell an off brand of on Amazon for like $10 per cartridge, I buy a cartridge every 3 months I would say and I print from 5 computers so it prints a ton. I love it it is wireless and everything.

  • Chris says:

    The HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One has been a cheap ink-wise printer (so far). A tip is to make sure you buy only the high capacity ink cartridges…you save quite a bit if you only buy them.

  • Sarah Johnson says:

    We bought a Samsung color laser printer. It was less than 200 bucks and have saved us a fortune in ink. I have replaced the cartridges only once in the last 9 months and I print TONS of coupons. I also bought my cartridges on ebay – used. They work great. I am considering refilling them myself, but I am not sure I will ever be that brave!

  • Nory says:

    I have a wireless injet printer I bought like two years ago at Target for black Friday. I only paid about $40 bucks for it. Its pretty awesome! I usually print in grayscale and only use color for pictures and special projects. The color ink comes separately in 3 (cyan, magenta, yellow), so when I do the Staples recycling instead of getting back $2 for color ink, I get $6 total for all three. You can buy the 3 color inks separately or together. I am constantly printing coupons and other stuff and it last a while compared to other HP models I have had in the past. I haven’t tried re-manufactured ink, since I had some bad experiences in the past with an HP model. The model of my current printer is….Epson Stylus NX420 in case anyone wants to check it out online.

    • spi_cy13 says:

      Hey Nory, it sounds like you have a HP Photosmart B210A (the same one that I have!) I did get mine from from Target Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 2011 for about the same price. I LOVE this printer! Wireless, inexpensive, print from smartphone capability, etc. :)

  • emily says:

    I bought the Brother HL-2280DW. I bought for $130. A few months ago I noticed that Staples had it was on sale for $99 and there was a 20% off coupon; therefore, if interested, you can keep an eye for a sale. Also, I bought the the high-yield toner with a $25 off $75 coupon at staples that a kind persone left at my library’s coupon-grab station. I am happy to not have to think about buying ink anymore, and the print quality is so much better than a ink printer I previously had.

  • Cleo says:

    I print preview, grayscale, fast draft everything I print. I use the back of paper I’d otherwise recycle. I buy ink in bulk and refill my own ink cartridges when they start to run low. All of this combined helps me save ALOT on my printing costs.

  • Kristen says:

    Kinda off topic but- I have been banned by our computer guy to print anymore coupons or get in coupon websites. He said they have tons of viruses that cause computers to slow down and eventually crash..especially that dang coupon printer…I asked why everyone else could print coupons (so it wasn’t that big of a problem)..he said he didn’t know but for me not to download or print anything else :(

  • Jeanie says:

    I’m not hardcore, but I do try and save some money. I purchase paper at the office supply store when they have a terrific deal. I get my ink refilled at Office Max and recycle the cartridges that no longer do well refilled and I use my rewards to purchase more paper and ink when it’s on sale. As for printing, I don’t have the patience or know how to work my printer other than turning it on and off so however it prints, it prints. I don’t really worry about it much.

  • karol says:

    I use b&w coupons all the time no issues, except when the cashier or manager tries to say they are copies, in front of other customers, I tell them to look again and notice the numbers are not the same, if they were copies they would be the same, I am naturally loud and don’t like having someone tell me I am using bad coupons in front of others, I get snippy when they jump to conclusions before really looking, of course they go through, sometimes these cashiers are not too bright and assume they know it all, it doesn’t help when they cause the line to get backed up and everyone is getting annoyed and I am treated like I am doing something wrong, then I email the company and suggest they train their people better and not treat us like we are criminals or something, believe me, they listen.

  • nicole says:

    Question about printers that are good scanning photos. Those with a laser printer, do you have a feeder that will let you scan photos/negatives relatively quickly? BTW, thanks for the info on the brother laser printer.

  • Roger Williams says:

    If you do a lot of printing, a managed print service is worth looking into. I found a great company in Michigan (right near where I live and do business) called Governor Business Solutions. They have a lot of great resources when it comes to printing. Check them out.

    Thanks for writing this article!

  • Kevin says:

    I always find that Printpal has the best prices and accepts online coupons usually 15% off and free shipping.

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