I have a confession: I haven’t been buying the Sunday newspaper lately. I do get the coupons from my in-laws, who only clip one or two coupons per week – so I do have one set of each week’s coupons. But that’s it.
I don’t trade or buy coupons, but I seem to always have enough to buy what my family needs. And I realized that this works for me in large part because of the availability of printable coupons. Coupons.com is my favorite single source, but I’m always finding links to other printable coupons too.
I have found myself wondering if the coupons are worth the cost of printing them, but I always conclude that they are. After all, how much can it cost to print out three coupons per sheet of paper, even in colored ink? Less than the $3 those coupons will save me!
Still, there’s no point in paying more than you have to. Here are some ways to keep the cost of printing coupons down:
Minimize the ink volume. The easiest and fastest way to minimize the amount of ink you use is to change your printer settings so that the default print setting is for the lowest ink volume. You may have to locate your printer’s manual or click around a bit to figure out how to change the settings but it’s absolutely worth it. On my printer, at least, the lowest ink volume is still perfectly clear. If yours is too light, increase the ink volume incrementally until you are using only as much as you absolutely must.
Consider printing in black and white only. Color ink is more expensive than black ink, so you’ll save money if you print in “grayscale,” as it will appear in your printer options. But, I actually don’t do this because I feel cashiers are less likely to question my coupons if they’re in color.
Stop the printer after your coupon has printed. Many manufacturers set their coupons to print an ad on the bottom of the page underneath the coupon. If I’m paying attention, I’ll interrupt the printing once the coupon has been printed, thus saving the ink that would have been used to print the ad.
Use coupons for free or cheap ink cartridge refills. This week, you can get a free black or color cartridge refill after rebate at Walgreens. It looks like the black ink refill will be $2.50 ($10 minus $7.50 rebate) for the rest of the month. Color will be $7.50 ($15 minus $7.50 rebate).
Look for sales on printer paper. A ream of 500 sheets lasts a long time, but does run out eventually. There’s a sale at Staples this week. Hammermill CopyPlus reams are $7.98, and buy one get one free. There’s also a $3.99 easy rebate when you buy two, so you’ll pay $3.99 for two, or $2 each. (I found this deal via Northwest Arkansas Deals, which lists it a little differently – I’m guessing that their prices are just lower than ours here in pricey Southern California.)
Reuse printer paper. I’m all for recycling, and an easy way to recycle is to use the blank side of paper that’s already been printed on. I only do this when there’s very little printing on the one side, again because I feel cashiers are less likely to question a coupon that looks “clean.” However, when the coupons don’t take up an entire page, I take the blank part that’s left and use it to write my shopping list, to do lists, and other notes.
When possible, print coupons at the store. I always do this with Target coupons, which can be printed at the registry kiosks in the store. I started doing this several months ago, after I read that some cashiers refused to accept the coupons because they looked copied. The store I go to most often uses blue paper in their kiosks, so it’s very obvious that I printed the coupons directly from the Target web site. (To print coupons at the kiosk, choose the option for Target.com, scroll down to the bottom of the homepage and click on “Grocery Coupons.”)