Reader’s Tips: Printers and Ink!

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Remember the post from a couple of weeks ago entitled “Have You Found Your Favorite Printer?” Well, I have finally read through all 254 comments and compiled what I hope to be a very helpful resource. Although there was not one printer that was consistently mentioned as a favorite, there were many wonderful pieces of advice, tips and more…thanks to everyone who participated! ๐Ÿ™‚

Inkjet Versus Laser Printer:

It was VERY clear 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 Printers in 2010
* 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 (according to Hip2Save readers):


Tips (directly from you!) 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.

* I refill my own cartridges, which saves a LOT of money. Check out Not that hard once you get the hang of using the syringe.

* There is a trick (found on YouTube) to make your OEM toner stretch 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.

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.”

Join The Discussion

Comments 73

  1. Jessica Bottorff

    I just bought a printer yesterday at Nebraska Furniture Mart! Good thing I didn’t open it because after reading through all this, I may invest in a laser printer instead. This article came at a great time! Thanks!

  2. Kylie

    Good info. I tired to use a coupon at Walgreens on Saturday and the cashier told me I couldn’t use it because it looked like it had been copied. I was so mad–just because my ink was low (not out) he accused me of copying it!?! (It was still totally readable) And he wouldn’t take it. (It was for the deal on those dry erase marker….arrrrrrrghhh).

  3. jiya

    Hi everyone, I need promo code from 2010 entertainment book if someone is not planning to use it please pass it. We have to book tickets it will help a lot. Thanks


    • mrsdsj2007

      I have one available – at home though – so it will be a few hours before I get to it if you can wait…

      • jiya

        Thanks a lot for your help. I have to book tickets in the evening I will wait for ur reply.

  4. Anita U.

    Thanks Collin, for the great work overall, I like the way you put the information together Re: picking and using a printer. Thanks again!

  5. Don

    Having been in the printer and copier business for over 20 years may I offer my opinion on some of your tips?

    A laser printer is basically a small copier with many more parts that go bad than on an ink-jet printer. One major cost you forgot to mention for laser printers is the drum cartridge. Depending on the model printer, they can run anywhere from $35 to over $400. The tip about covering the window on the toner cartridge is asking for trouble.

    The drum cartridge uses toner as a lubricant and if you cover the window and let your toner cartridge run dry you will eventually scratch your drum. Then all your prints will have lines on them that you can’t get out without replacing the drum.

    Copiers and laser printers use heat to melt the toner into the paper. When (not if) the heat lamp burns out you will wish you had kept your ink-jet printer. Laser printers are more expensive to own and operate over the long haul than ink-jet printers..

    • steph317

      the tip about covering the window actually works great, it makes our heavily used printers ink last an extra 2 monthes! and we’ve NEVER had any problems with lines or scraping the drum. ohh and weve had the printer for over 10 years and it weve used electrical tape over the window since we got it, its a great way to save money

    • Kent

      Don, I guess we made a mistake buying our Samsung ML-2510 laser printers. The first one was free after rebate & coupon at Staples. The 2nd, 3rd, and oh yes the 4th, cost a total of $40 after rebates & coupons from Office Max. We only use one printer but at this price ($10 each) we just rob the toner cartridge from another printer. Also bought a couple of Office Max cartridges with previously earned rewards. Over 3000 prints on ‘toner-save’ and no problems. If they all broke tomorrow, I’d be looking for a deal on the Samsung ML-2525. I’ve probably seen it several times this year under $60 after rebates. Of course I would also use a coupon.

    • Maggie

      Sorry, that hasn’t been my experience either. We bought a refurbished black-and-white Lexmark Optra M410 from Lexmark 10 years ago, and we have refilled the toner cartridges ourselves with a kit for YEARS for very little cost. Eventually our toner cartridges wore out, we replaced them with new ones (high capacity), and keep on refilling those. It’s never even needed servicing. I realize not all are so well made, but our experience with our Lexmark has not been what Don described.

  6. Mir

    I cut my paper too and I use paper that is already printed on the other side (I use the same stuff for my 2-year-olds drawing paper). Never had a problem with that anywhere and it’s paper I would otherwise recycle anyways.
    I do print my coupons at a higher setting though because when I use draft or grayscale on my seriously old, old printer then they are completely unscannable at stores more often than not.

  7. Jill

    I have (2) laser printers: An HP(b&w) and a Samsung (color). Both are fabulous! The ink is kind of on the pricey side (Samsung color) BUT it lasts over a year and I am constantly using them to print ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. dan

    If you purchase (or have) one of the new Lexmark printers that uses the $5 black ink cartridges, you can get these for pennies if you use an office depot coupon (say $10 of $25) and then return the empty cartridge to the store ($3 per cartridge)

    Scenario: Buy 5 cartridges at $5 each = $25.00
    Use $10 off $25 office depot coupon = $15.00
    Return 5 empty cartridges to office depot =$15.00 in store credit


    • Karen

      That’s awesome. I don’t have the Lexmark, however I do have an HP and I purchase my cartridges at cartridge world. Take your old cartridges to the store, you get a discount on the cartridges and the HP cartidges are 1/2 the price of brand name. Also when you buy 10 refilled cartridges you get 1 Free. Has saved me a bunch of money.

  9. stephanie duboc

    How do you change your font and also put your printer to fast draft mode?
    thank you

    • Kathryn

      I would like to know too

      • Julieanne28

        I have an HP and XP OS so this may not be the same for all printers/OS… go to start..settings..printers & faxes…right click your default printer.. choose printing preferences then change the print quality & print color. I hope this helps!

  10. NYCSingleMom

    thanks for the list of sites to buy ink. I think that the whole printer rack is so we can spend hundreds on ink. Printers are cheap its the ink is where they get you.

  11. Chriscia

    I have an epson that uses a diff. cartridge for each color. I get them on ebay for about $2 a cartridge including shipping (epson printers still take generic ink). I used them and then turn them into office depot for $3 a piece. I use the $1 profit and buy paper.

    • Angela

      I have an Epson, I believe it’s the Workforce 300 and I have the same benefits as you Chriscia.

      We love our Epson and have been through many printers prior!

      I also had a personal note like yours, Michelle L Starbuck and I will probably be buying from the same again ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mareolle

      Hi Chriscia, would you mind sharing who you order through on Ebay. I have an Epson with different colored cartridges too and am hesitant to just try any ink co. after hearing some of the things that can happen to the printer. Thanks

  12. stephanie

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I was wondering what others did & it is great to have some honest feedback on what works best for others, especially from a site you trust.

  13. Tiffany

    how do you print in gray scale?…i have a mac and can’t figure out how to change my settings to just print in gray scale. any advice?

  14. lori

    How do you enable the print preview screen for the coupons each time you print?

    • Anonymous

      good question I too would like to know. I can do it for anything else no problem, but havent’ yet figured “coupon preview” either. lol

    • Maryc

      I use print preview all of the time to save paper as I then know exactly where the coupon is going to be. On my computer I go to control panel, then printers & fax, view intalled printers, right click on your default printer, click preferences and then on the page that comes up there should be a box to check for grayscale and for print preview. Then hit ok or save. Mine says ok and this saves it. Hope this helps.

  15. amanda

    This is awesome! Thanks so much for putting this together Collin!

  16. Barb

    I also read through all the comments and thought that Brother was the clear winner for a basic black & white laser printer! So I bought Brother HL-2170W from Staples. LOVE it! It’s wireless, making it easy to print from 2 different laptops. It’s onsale this week at Staples for 89.99 (originally 149.99).

    Not so sure about that “5 best printers” site…after reading through the Hip2Save comments on the past post, really none of those “best 5” that this guy recommends were even mentioned! Plus Lexmark consistantly has bad reviews. I also have owned 2 Lexmark inkjets, and they both were annoying with constant problems! So if you want a couponing printer, go with what couponers recommend, not this random site.

  17. Dee

    I have three printers,
    -An all in one Epson that I only use OEM inks for because generics have damaged the injector tubes in TWO of my Epson printers in the past … bad experience… PLUS it won’t print e-centive(target and PG) coupons because the software thinks it’s a fax, blech
    -A cheapie Dell Printer (works perfectly with generic ENVIROINKS.COM inks) they are reasonably priced and take empty cartridges for purchase credit.
    -And a HP that I have at work on my desk. I have never used generics in this one… scared after using generics on my Epson.

    I always print in ink save mode and it seems to work well. It does make the coupon look “copied” but I have never had a coupon rejected.

    • danip1969

      I have an Epson Stylus CX6600 that I used generic cartridges in and it is totally messed up now…I wonder if my injector tubes are messed up? What did you do with your Epson’s? I have been wondering if I should just sell it as is…

      I have a cheap HP now and only use HP cartridges in it after that fiasco!

  18. Amanda C

    My mom and I both have the Brother 2170W laser printer and LOVE IT! I have only had to buy toner once and I bought the Office Max brand and it works great. One thing I noticed though is that the price online was about $10 cheaper for the toner versus when I got to the store. Luckily I had printed the page and they had no problems price matching their online price.

    If anything was to happen to the printer, I wouldn’t hesitate to go out and buy another one. It has saved me SOOOOOO much.

  19. Michelle L Starbuck

    I recently discovered they are fairly new, but a great company for OEM ink. I’ve had a printer ruined because of generic inks, so I won’t ever use them again. I ordered ink from these guys because they were the cheapest price online with shipping only costing $1. When I got my ink, there was a personalized, hand written note thanking me for my purchase- because of the personal touch and great prices I will definitely be using them again!

  20. JL


  21. amy

    ok here is how to get CHEAP ink go to ebay and order empty inks mine cost about .45 each than take 10 emptys into staples wait till you get you ink rewards $20 buy new ink and then repeat i do this every month and have a nice stock pile of ink and if you dont need ink thy sell almost everything tp trash bags stickers feminie products ect! and go through a site like mr rebates for $ back on the ebay purchase

    • Danielle Miller

      Wow. That’s a fabulous idea. I’m ashamed I didn’t think of it myself.

    • Laury

      Great idea! I just found a lot of 50 empty cartridges that have never been refilled for $22.

    • morganacm

      How much do you usually pay for shipping when you buy these through ebay?

      • amy

        I added the cost of the empty inks plus the shipping and divided it by how many I buoght so it cost $74.25 but I got 165 empty inks plus I split the cost with my mom she took half of the inks so I have about 8 months worth cost $36 and I will get back $160 I looked into other office stores but they all have “spending” requirements to get the $$$ bak kwim? for the year it comes to $184 in profit not to bad if you ask me!

        • morganacm

          That’s awesome – thanks for the reply – I’m definitely going to try this out!!

    • Beverly

      This is an awesome idea! Do the empty ink cartridges need to be the same type as what I’m going to trade them in to buy? it- I have a Samsung laser printer so do I need to turn in Samsung cartridges to use the rewards to buy ink for my laser printer?

      • Bobbie

        At Staples you can turn in any empty ink cartridges. You then get a rebate check and you can use it to buy whatever you want. So no it would not need to be the same.

  22. Brigi

    These are great tips. Thanks so much!

  23. DeAnna

    Thanks Collin, I was having trouble going through all those comments on your previous post but here you have done it for me and summed it all up! Thanks, that must have been so so much work! You are wonderful! I have an HP inkjet and it is pretty darn expensive to keep stocked in ink.
    While I do appreciate the opinion of someone in the business (Don) I still think I will purchase a new laserjet and here is why……my inkjet is virtually free of any annoying problems BUT… matter what mode I print in, the cashiers have trouble scanning the coupons. The barcodes are slightly blurry and they have to hand type in the numbers or sometimes they can get the scanning gun to work. I got a chance to print some off of on a nice laserjet recently and the difference between the barcodes was amazing. These coupons scanned just as easily for the cashiers as the newspaper ones! After that, I was sold on laser. Happy cashiers are more coupon friendly after all!

  24. fran jackson

    I also use recycled paper. Whenever I see a sheet of paper that is blank on one side, it goes in my printer tray, face up. If the page has my name and address on it, I put that in the tray with my info facing out, so when I print a coupon, I just shred the rest of the page.
    I use HP ink, and they now sell larger cartridges with more prints, so it’s cheaper than buying the regular sized ones.
    My light was “on” to let me know that my color ink was low. I didn’t change it for over a month…that’s how much ink was still in the cartridge. I also don’t print every day.

  25. Pam

    Thanks for taking the time to compile this information. I hadn’t thought about ebay and other sites to get printer cartridges. My hubby says just throw the printer away and buy a new one. I am trying to be frugal and that just doesn’t pay. I like my printer and would rather reuse the cartridges than just put them in the landfill. Thanks again.

  26. Sara

    Def. go to Ebay….cheap cartridges from Hong Kong (same as US ink) and many offer free shipping. I just bought 10 cartridges for $13.00 for my Epson. Just one Epson OEM cartridge usually costs $20 in stores!!!

  27. Craig

    I have a Canon i850 and the ink for it is expensive. It does have 4 seperate cartridges thank goodness for that. I cant believe how much even these cart. have gone up since I bought it though. One way I save ink/money is to remove ALL but the black. I found out after several cart. when the other colors got low, at the time it told me that color ran out, I just left it out. Figured out leaving em all out but the black I could still print black n white w/ no issues!! Woot wooot.

    Now my question is: Where can I find cheap ink for this Canon i850? I heard horror stories of “refill ink” taking out the printers so I like to stay OEM if poss. but Im open to all suggestions. I use to get em at Walmart since they seem to be the cheapest local and WGs does NOT do refiils on them too btw.

    • Lindy

      Thanks for the printer tip on the Cannon, going to have to give it a try.

      • Craig

        No problem! It works for me. Long term, I am concerned about the other colors working when or if I ever try to print in color though. Oh well, I have removed them since following this site over a year ago and have only printed w/ just the black in it since then. Not sure if these other cartridge spots should be covered or not when not in use. Probally to late if they were. hahaha 99.9% of my printing is b&w. anyways and this printer is from 03′.

  28. Lisa Hager

    I print a lot and spend very little on ink thanks to Office Depot recycling program. I buy empty ink cartridges on ebay, usually 60 of them for under 20.00. Then when I run out of ink I take 5 empty ink cartridges to Office Depot and they credit my account 3.00 each, total of 15.00 which I receive in a gift card every 3 months in the mail. Then when my gift card arrives I spend that money back on cartridges along with turning in 5 more inks, getting another15.00 credit to my next gift card. I usually do this transaction 3 times and I usually receive a 45.00 gift card every 3 months.

    Lisa in Kansas

    • morganacm

      Does the $20 for 60 empty cartridges include the shipping cost or do you pay anything additional for shipping? I was just looking around on ebay and can’t find anything that good of a deal…thanks!!

  29. StacyB

    I print my coupons on the back sides of the school papers that my kids bring home. It’s unbelieveable how much paper three school-aged kids can generate! The majority of the papers they bring home are only printed or written on one side. I used to just toss the stuff in the recycle bin, but now I feel good about recycling AND saving myself the cost of paper.

    • Craig

      Its funny, even with all these great deals Collin has told us about for paper at Staples, OD, etc. I took advantage of those deals and STILL collect paper that is printed on one side from diff. sources to stretch the savings now!. Hahahaa, wouldn’t even thought about that before following this site! Collin is the bestest!. lol.

  30. Michelle

    Does anyone know where the cancel button is on my printer? I have a Brother HL 2140 B/W Laser printer


    Thanks so much for this post! Collin…you rock!!!!!!

  32. Jason

    I need help. More than anyone can but I need help with printing. I do not have a printer at home. We moved to a small apartment and packed many things in storage when I became disabled.

    I am trying to print to adobe PDF and because it is not a physical printer none of the sites will allow me to print the coupons!! can anyone help me with a work around. then I email the PDFS to my partner and he prints them at work…

    Please email me

  33. Catherine

    I’m looking for uses for all of those edges and paper scraps. I know I can use smaller (like a half sheet) of paper, But I’m usually not near the printer when I send coupons to print so I use whole pages. Any ideas on useful ways to use leftover scraps?

    • jheintz

      Yes, I cut them in half and I have half a tissue box (cut the hamburger way) on my desk which I use for my paper scraps (also have one near the phone). I use these for messages and for writing my lists for the store–just paperclip my coupons to each list and maybe store in an envelope from junk mail. I also take the papers from my children and tear them in 1/4ths for these notepaper boxes. Can staple them together and have a notepad for your purse or car.

    • Laura

      Another great use for the leftover paper is for homework when the kids need to work out math problems.

  34. nataliya

    i am looking for paper and ink for my printer any coupons or freebeis? I would like to buy in the store not on-line.

  35. Maryc

    I bought a cannon pixma mp495 on black Friday for $30. (a Christmas present for myself) Got it set up right after Christmas and it prints fabulously on fast draft. The partial in that came in it lasted over a month. It printed 3 weeks after it said it was low and I print LOTS of coupons. I check for new ones every day and print all the big ones just in case I need them. The extra large size ink is quite expensive but I did buy 2 when staples was giving a $10 rebate on the purchase so that helped and will now look at some of the ink sites mentioned in the above comments. Thanks, Collin, you are my favorite coupon site.

  36. sundaysaver89

    i have an hard time printing so coupons on my printer help please anyone im wasting time miss out on alot of deal this week and last ๐Ÿ™

  37. Katie

    So I can print my coupons in black and white? They don’t have to be in color? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • yangzi

      You can print coupons in black and white, they don’t have to be in color. I use my laser black and white printer to print online coupons.

  38. Brenda Chaney

    I have a Dell Photo all in one printer, if I buy ink from Dell it is around $50.00, so I have started buying from LD Products the remanufactured kind and it is $14.99 for Black and $15.99 for Color. They have a discount everytime I buy, I have never paid the same price since I have been buying it’s always been cheaper, also free shipping in the US.
    Also Collin how do I get my Hip2Save icons to show up so I can check off what I want at WalMart and other stores?

  39. Paullet

    When I set up 2 more printers on my computer for coupons do I have to have different email addresses set up and how do I do that.

  40. Laura

    My husband recently bought a Kodak ESP 5200 Series All-in-One Printer and it seems to be drinking ink. Aside from printing in grayscale, fast draft, etc, I am looking at whether it’s worth it to replace the printer or make due. Does anyone have experience with this printer and if so, what are your thoughts? Also, if I do replace it, what is the best printer for ink usage currently? I have read through the list from this site, but I didn’t know if anyone had more current options. Thanks Hipsters!!

  41. Charlene

    Does anyone print coupons from an IPad or Iphone from the App? It states you need a HP printer to use this print feature from your Ipad or Iphone. What printer do you recommend for printing from the App? Thanks! Charlene

  42. Abi

    I am on a printer hunt and read through all the comments provided in the “Have you found your favorite printer” post and found some definite trends, although these weren’t pointed out by Colin. The most commonly liked Brother brand models were Bro MFC 495cw, Bro HL 2140, and Bro HL 2170w. The most liked HP brand models were HP laserjet 1200, laserjet 2100, HP 5150, and many commented on loving any OLD HP printer. Also liked a lot was the Samsung ML series. And then finally, several commented on liking their Epson Workforce on account of the super cheap black replacement ink and that you could replace the colors individually (but many others cautioned against Epson in general because they won’t run unless all of the cartridges are in and working). Also notable is that many liked the inexpensive, lower quality Kodaks on account of the cheap refills (but they did note that these were not the kind of printers that lasted YEARS). I also feel that this commonality should be pointed out: many did not like Lexmark, Epsom Stylus, and Canon Pixma. I compiled all of this through tracking the comments and filing them in excel with votes next to them. I feel that these commonalities should be mentioned because Collin said that no one printer stood out above the rest, which is true, BUT there are commonality among brands that should have been pointed out. Also worth noting is that several readers said that good models of refurb lasers could be purchased for about $50 from Office Depot or Staples.

  43. visitor3

    Please consider updating this great article. Just in time to print all those holiday coupons!

  44. Cathy

    Can you print target coupons off an iPad?

  45. Lisa

    I just got an IPad and found that since IOS doesn’t support Java, I can’t print coupons from anywhere but This is putting a major crimp in my couponing, is there any way around this?

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