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*Expired* Saving on Ink

by Freebies4Mom on April 29, 2008 3:25 pm

Update @ 9 PM: Thank you readers for all your comments on this post! It really was bugging me that I was printing in color by default and my first reaction was for a “low-tech” solution (i.e. removing my color ink cartridge). My wonderful reader, Karen, kindly pointed me to the “high-tech” solution that I knew must exist, but I missed it when I tried to find it. Here it is (it may vary for you depending on what operating system and printer you use):
1. Select “Start”
2. Select “Control Panel”
3. Select “Select Printing Preferences”
4. Under the “Quality” tab change it to “Fast Draft”
5. Under the “Color” tab change it to “Print in Grayscale” and “Black Print Cartridge Only”
6. Click on “Apply” and start saving ink!
Thanks, Karen! I really appreciate you taking the time to enlighten me – it is such a treat for me to have such a computer-savvy reader as you!

I did something drastic today. I removed my color ink cartridge from my printer and just set it aside. My printer knows it is missing, but it will print everything gray scale now which is fine with me! I do occasionally have a need to print in color, so I’ll keep my color ink cartridge handy – but I will only install it in my printer when I have a specific need for it. But by taking it out I don’t have to remember to print in black & white – it’s automatic that it will. It’s all about my effort to save a little bit of money on ink cartridges for my HP Deskjet printer.

I’m also taking my empty ink cartridges to Office Max to get a $3 credit per cartridge (Staples has a similar program). I have not tried refilling my cartridges yet, but I might try it with the black ink the next time Walgreens offers it for free (I’ve heard good and bad things – so I think it’s something you just have to try to find out if it works for you and your specific printer).

I just ready Amy’s article at called “Saving Money on Printing” and got some more ideas for saving money on ink. I’ll be checking the online store she mentioned for my next purchase of ink cartridges. And I’ve set-up a separate place to set aside paper that can be used to print on the other side for things I want a hard copy of but don’t care what’s on the back side of it. I’m also going to try printing more “draft” quality stuff – it’s just hard to remember to change the setting each time for this.

I know there are other ways to save – and I hope a few of you will leave some feedback here.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Tyree April 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I know that you mentioned the recycle program thru Staples. But if you have a Lexmark Printer, you can go to and sign up for their rewards program. For every 5 you buy online, they will give you a free one. Also, for every 5 you return (doesnt have to be bought from their website) they give you a free one. They also send you free baggies to send them back in, postage paid. B/c with staples, you would have to return quite a few to have the ink paid for …Also, with lexmark, you cant refill w/generic ink. you gotta use lexmark ink. Its stupid, i know. I wasted money at walgreens to find out the hard way 🙁


Lynne August 25, 2009 at 9:24 am

Some schools also take empty cartridges, they send them to a company that reuses them and credits the school money. A middle school near me had a big bin in the office to put the empty cartridges in.


s_phia18 August 2, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Just an idea, but you could just replaced both sides with black ink and every time you need color just place it back in


Heather April 30, 2008 at 1:48 pm

You’re welcome, Canearl. I know it’s kind of an obvious thing, but I blog about what I’m thinking about and small changes I’m making to run a more frugal household.


canearl April 30, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Thank you for sharing this!! I usually manually change it, but when you print the coupons it doesn’t give you a chance. I’m so glad that you posted this.


Heather April 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

I’m not sure if that would be a problem, Momma2mia – you’ll just have to try your coupons and see if the cashiers have a problem with them or not.


Momma2Mia April 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Heather I have a question …what about when your printing out coupons …the computer ones say for stores to not take them or not accept them if they don’t have the dot scan under the expiration date, which on mine print out in very light yellow. Is there any concern for coupon natzi checkout clerks?


Heather April 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Thanks for all the comments, everyone! A big thanks to Karen! You are so computer-saavy! I was thinking if you could change the settings system-wide you would go to “Set Printer Properties” – but as you pointed out you really need to go to “Select Printing Preferences”, and I had missed that. I will update my post – thanks for helping me out!


Marin April 29, 2008 at 7:21 pm

Thank you for this post. I had a Staples where we lived before and used the $3 rebate program, but I had no idea Office Max does it too! For those without an Office Max, Petsmart will take ink cartridges for charity. Often, Family Services will too.


Portcitymama April 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Thank you! I never knew about the “draft” quality print for junk stuff and will try to remember to print in greyscale when I don’t need color. Thanks for the tips!


mommy April 29, 2008 at 6:21 pm

i recycle my empty ink cartridges at the local walgreens. they give me a receipt for 10 free 4×6 prints. the receipt expires one year from when the print it. note: not all walgreens does this, as i’ve tried to at other local walgreens and they don’t know what i’m talking about. i think it depends on who you get in the photo department.


The Olsons April 29, 2008 at 5:27 pm

You can set you printing prefereces to fast draft black cartiridge only on almost all printers. This will let you keep the clor cartridge in and safe. You will need to change the preferences for each compter and each user on each computer (if your printer is on a network).*To change your defalt printer settings-Start*settings*printers and faxes*right click on your printer*printer prefernces*find the print quality section then select draft or fast draft* find the color tab and set for black cartridge only and grayscale* then click applyJust remeber when you want to print in color that you need to change the preferenc for that document (you can do that in the *file*print section. Hope this helps.


modo98 April 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm

I shop at Petsmart and donate my used cartridges to their charities. They usually have postage-paid bags available at the front of the store.


Miranda April 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

I just wanted to weigh in on the refilling cartridges debacle. My husband used to repair printers and his company actually thanked people for refilling their cartridges… but because the damage the caused always brought them business! He mentioned they are particularly hard on HP. Just his $0.02!


Heather April 29, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for the update on Staples, Marilyn. I’ll be watching to see if Office Max discontinues their program as well – but there is always some type of office supply I need there, so it works well for me.


**Marilyn** April 29, 2008 at 4:02 pm

they are doing away w/$3 dollar credits. and Staples No Longer does it.Mind U in England they are credit U towards an On the Spot purchase.perhaps this link can clarify the New Rules.;=13cheers.


Heather April 29, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Thanks for the comment, Guereca Family! I took the cartridge out and placed it in two plastic baggies to store it upright in a cool place. I did need to take it out because I can’t remember to select “print in grayscale” every time I print – and I can’t figure out how to change the default printer settings so that it doesn’t default to printing in color. We’ll see how it works – but it was a quick fix to make it automatic for me to print in black ink only.


Guereca Family April 29, 2008 at 3:50 pm

you don’t need to take the cartridge out….in fact it may be better if you left it in. Instead, when you get the print page preview up, you click “Print in black and white” and then “print in greyscale”, sometimes you only have to choose the black and white one, depending on your internet type.I always do this, especially when the color ink is low. But since it uses more black ink, you’ll have yo change than one more often, it is less expensive to replace though


Becentsable blog April 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Good idea! I need to do that!


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