The Most Cost-Effective Way To Print Online Coupons

Printing coupons can use a lot of ink! Make sure you're using the most efficient settings.

Printing coupons can use a lot of ink! Make sure you’re using the most efficient settings.

In my last few couponing posts, I showed you the best places to find online printable coupons and the correct way to get multiple coupon prints.

Today, I’m going to share some tips and tricks to make sure you don’t waste ink and paper while printing your coupons. Wasting paper and ink costs money! Since couponing is all about saving money, let’s make sure you’re getting the best coupons at the least expense.

Print On A Lower Quality

Most printers have the ability to print documents at several quality levels. The most economical is usually a setting called draft or fast draft, which prints the document using less ink. A high quality or photo quality setting prints using extra ink to ensure a top-notch print, whereas a normal mode usually hits a nice balance between the two. Printing on fast draft makes your ink cartridge last longer, but I do have to note that sometimes printing coupons on fast draft can cause some snags at the register, primarily because barcodes printed at a low quality seem to have less contrast and less definition than barcodes printed on normal quality. If you find yourself at a store with a finicky barcode scanner, it can force your cashier to type in each coupon by hand. Some stores even have policies that prevent them from accepting coupons that won’t scan, so this could actually keep you from being able to use all your coupons.

My particular printer has several different quality levels, including one that strikes a balance between fast draft and normal. It’s the setting I use most of the time when printing coupons.

Print In Black-And-White

I’ve never encountered an instance where a store wouldn’t accept a coupon if it wasn’t printed in full color. Since black ink is so much cheaper than colored ink, it’s in your best interest to print your coupons in black ink only. Be sure to check your printer’s settings — some printers actually still use a small amount of ink from the color cartridge even when printing black and white. There’s usually an option in the settings to disable this “feature” and force the printer to just use the black cartridge.

How To Interrupt Attached Coupon Ads

Sometimes you’ll encounter a coupon that prints as a full page ad — the coupon itself will take up the top third of the page, with the bottom two-thirds taken up by a big advertisement for parmesan cheese or Clorox wipes or whatnot. You don’t really want to see these ads, and they’re wasting some of your precious ink, so here’s how to nix them: just pull up your printer queue, and watch your printer. Once the printer has completely printed the coupon and moved on to the ad, cancel the print job. The printer should stop what it’s doing and spit out the rest of the page without printing the ad.

Print Several Coupons From The Same Source At One Time

If you need to “clip” several online coupons from the same source, such as Coupons.com, don’t print each coupon individually. If you do, you’ll end up with two-thirds of a blank piece of printer paper. Instead, pick all the coupons you want to print, and print them all at once. Generally three to four coupons will fit on a single piece of paper, so you’ll have fewer paper scraps left over after you cut out the coupons.

Update Drivers, Align Print Cartridges

Make sure your keep your printer’s drivers up to date. Drivers are the software that tells your printer what to print and how. Like any piece of software, bugs can interrupt the normal behavior of the machine, so manufacturer’s regularly put out software updates whenever they discover and fix a bug. You can usually get the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s website.

Periodically align and clean your print cartridges. Most modern machines have automatic processes to do these two functions, but performing them on a somewhat regular basis ensures that your coupons aren’t ruined by ink smudges or out-of-alignment printing, which can disrupt barcodes or make digits your cashier needs unreadable.

Replacing A Printer? Consider Laser

If your old printer is worn out and needs to be replaced, consider picking a laser printer instead of another inkjet. Laser printers use toner instead of ink, and they’re vastly more efficient. A single toner cartridge can last up to a thousand or more prints! Compare that to the hundred or so pages you’ll get out of many inkjet cartridges, and you’ll save a ton of money on printer refills. Once upon a time, laser printers had a higher upfront cost than their inkjet counterparts, but they’ve become more and more economical over the years. You can pick up one of these highly-rated Brother laser printers for less than $150.

Keep An Eye On Your Available Ink

Finally, make sure you know how much ink you have available before you queue up a large print job full of coupons. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing the last six coupons you printed are useless because the cartridge started to run out of ink and only printed about 30% of the coupons. Most modern printers have a feature that lets you call up an estimate of the remaining ink in the software, so learn how to access that feature and use it. If you don’t think you have enough ink left to handle your queue of coupons, go ahead and throw in a fresh cartridge.

Do you print coupons frequently? What other ways have you found to reduce printing costs? Tell us in the comments!

Photo by Justin Baeder

Posted in How To Save Money