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Printer ink can cost a fortune!

This image shows an opened Canon S520 ink jet ...Our printer recently died and HP told us that it could not be fixed. They offered us an upgrade at a lower price. I checked out Amazon and it was a lower price than they could offer. Our new printer came very fast and I was excited that I can scan, copy, and print from one device. But who knew that the ink would run out so quickly. I have been buying ink every few weeks! Here are my tips for saving as much as you can on printer ink.

1) Print in draft mode as much as possible. This will limit the amount of ink used on each printout. Print your coupons in black ink instead of color to limit your color usage, too.

2) Buy ink online whenever you can and be sure to compare prices with your local stores so you know when you have found a good deal. I often can find my ink for $5 – $10 cheaper than in stores. I mostly purchase through Amazon, so that if I need to return the ink, I have a reputable company to make sure the return goes well.

3) Buy remanufactured ink when you can, but be sure to check the reviews for that company and product. Some remanufactured inks are not as good as others. I have read many reviews of products that did not last long or didn’t even work when they were first opened.

4) Check reviews online for your printer ink. I almost bought a set of three colors and black ink together. By reading the reviews I found out that the four-packs for that ink number are only available as the setup packs that the printer comes with.

5) Buy XL inks when you can. These have more ink for the cost. However, be sure to read the specifications for these. You printer may take that number model of ink, but not the XL version, as mine does not.

6) Get your ink refilled at an office supply store when possible. Many inks can be refilled for a minimal cost instead of being replaced. See what your local store provides.

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Coupon “re”-organization

For the past many years I have organized my coupons in small vertical photo albums that hold three photos on each side (see my post “Organizing coupons” for details). This worked great because I could just slide my coupons in the slots and I could see six sections at once. I didn’t need to fold many (except the Target coupons which are a bit bigger) and I could see the whole coupon. I could open them in the basket of the shopping cart and they were lightweight. I was using more coupons and could easily compare deals while in the store, versus how hard it was to find what I needed when I used an expandable small coupon holder. My husband and I often got compliments at stores on what a great idea they were.

However, we needed three of these such albums to hold all of our coupons: one for groceries, one for toiletries/supplies/household items, and one for store coupons and amusement. It was a pain switching between albums while at Target and sometimes they wouldn’t stay open in the cart basket. The pockets were also ripping a bit and it was sometimes hard to get a small coupon out, since you could only reach inside the pockets sideways.

So I decided to make a leap to try the cloth zipper binder method that so many couponers use. I decided against the decorative coupon holder/bags, because I am sure my husband would not want to carry something that looks like a lady’s purse! I bought a 3″ 3-ring Case-it zipper binder from OfficeMax, not as cheap as they later went on sale for at Target; but my husband couldn’t find any at our local Target.

I then researched page protectors/coupon holders and decided that I liked the three slot holders best because it would be similar to what I was used to. I found a great deal from Hobbies Depot for a pack of 100 for less than $20 (and no shipping charge).

They arrived the other day and much to my dismay and surprise, they were one-sided! I had no idea they were like that. My friend and fellow couponer, Jessi, assured me that I had not bought the wrong thing; they all were one-sided.

Thus, my dilemma – how to maximize my storage capabilities and still have a system similar to what I was used to (6 sections to see at once).

In comes my patient, helpful, and intelligent husband, who obliged by listening to my problem. Then he came up with a brilliant solution! Adhere the page protectors back-to-back so that we had slots on both sides! I found some double-sided removable Scotch tape in my office supply stash, and applied 5 small strips to the back of one protector and attached it to the back of another protector, so that each had the pockets facing out and the tops the right way.

Perfect!

The only downside is that our “coupon” albums had a white backing behind the pockets so that you didn’t see through to the other side. We thought about maybe putting a piece of paper between the two page protectors, but this would have made a lot of extra work (with needing to tape twice for each set of pages) and more weight for the whole binder. We will just have to get used to it!I did steal a few ideas from Laurie at Passionate Penny Pincher, thanks to her video tutorial on her coupon organizing. I used a few plastic sleeves that have diagonal or horizontal slits in them. You can get them with or without divider tabs. These I used to hold coupons that I don’t need to necessarily see laid out at a store like automotive, amusement, home repair, medical, etc.

I am so excited to use my new binder! I love that it has a pocket for the coupons I have pulled for the checkout and dividers to hold sale fliers, etc. I even plan to put a copy of my price list in the front. I normally keep it in my purse, so that even if I am shopping without coupons, I have it handy. With the price list in the binder, my husband can use it, too, and it will be easier to flip pages.

* For more information on couponing, see my posts “Coupon websites – updated!” and “Don’t throw out your expired coupons!” My friend and fellow blogger, Mara, at Kosher on a Budget, has lots of great information on couponing in her series Couponing Basics.

Let me know what your coupon organizing style is and how you have made yours work!

 

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School Supply Shopping Strategy

Crayons (1)I can’t believe that in just over a month, school starts again. That means the school supplies are on the store displays! Last year I developed a strategy for shopping wisely for all my son’s needs without paying a fortune. Here is what I did and am doing again this year:

The List:

I retype or rewrite my son’s school supply list into one list with the total of each item I needed. Our school’s list is broken up by Judaic and General Studies, so that you bring separate supplies for each classroom. However, when I am at the store, I need the total amount of each item (4 erasers versus 2 erasers for General Studies and 2 for Judaics).

The Plan:

To start, I go to my overflow box from the basement and pull out any supplies I had gotten on sale last year (and didn’t get used) that my son needs for the coming year. I then put any supplies that coincide with my son’s current list in a bag or box (items will be labeled later when I have everything).

Then, each week I check the sale fliers from Target and OfficeMax. I identify which items seem like a really good deal. These are the items for less than $1 or with large discounts. Even if an item is not on my son’s list, I may still add it to my shopping list because he may need it another year or we may need it at home or for my own classroom.

The Trip:

I then go to those stores EARLY in the week and buy only those items. I do not get suckered into buying other items, even if my son needs them, if they were not on my list for that week.

The Unloading:

When I get home, I mark off any items that I was able to get from my son’s list. Those items get put in my “For This Year” bag or box, as I mentioned before. The others go into my overflow box.

Repeat:

I do this each week until the last week before school starts. Then I take stock of what I have purchased and still need to get. Those last items become my final shopping list. I do still take advantage of those last few sales at the end of August and early September and those items also go into my overflow box.

Last fall I even got four backpacks for less than $7 each from Land’s End (on clearance) to have on hand for the coming year if my kids need them!

So far this year I have gotten 5 composition notebooks ($.25 each), 1 box of 12 fine point sharpies ($1), 1 pack of 5 thin dry erase markers ($1), two 1” binders ($1 each) and 10 folders (free) from OfficeMax= all for less than $5!

For weekly shopping lists and tips, check out “Kosher on a Budget.” She features the school supply sales at Walgreens, CVS, Target, OfficeMax, Office Depot, and Staples.

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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in Family ideas, Other savings tips

 

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Clever trick: Color-coded backpack tags

My triplet boys started carrying a backpack last school year, to carry extra clothes and their swim stuff (once a week) to daycare. For that first year, they really didn’t care whose backpack they carried. Now they definitely want to make sure they have theirs. Most of the time they refuse to help each other!

The backpacks are all navy, a third birthday gift from their teachers from two years ago. It can be very hard to figure out whose backpack I have picked up and to give them to each boy to carry out of the house or into school. I do have their names on the front, but you have to pick them up, turn them around, look closely… It adds too much time to our morning routine.

I was desperate to find a solution. I know it sounds like a silly problem, but it was driving me crazy!

I thought about nametags/luggage tags, but I remember our older son’s falling off quickly and breaking. Plus, to find luggage tags in three different colors was proving difficult, after searching several stores and online. I even looked online for patches or reflective tape. Again not enough choices of colors.

Then it hit me. I had a perfect cheap solution. I had bought Veclro cord organizers/wrappers from OfficeMax for just $3 a few weeks back. There were 10 in a pack (red, yellow, blue, purple, and black). I attached one to each of the top handles of the boys’ backpacks and VOILA!

The colors go along with how we marked their bottles, sippy cups, etc. when they were babies and toddlers. Except instead of one of the boys getting white, he got yellow.

Now it is so much easier for me and the boys to know whose bag is whose! This trick will also work in the future if I am unable to find four different colored backpacks!

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Family ideas, Other savings tips

 

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Recycle your ink = Earn money

This image shows a canon S520 ink jet printer.

I am always trying to find new ways to throw out less and either recycle, reuse, or give away items. For ink, I used to order prepaid envelopes or find a school that recycled ink as a fundraiser. Now OfficeMax has expanded their recycling program to include all ink and toner cartridges. They previously only accepted specific kinds.

Now you can recycle any types and get money in return. You will earn $2 MaxPerks Rewards for each cartridge you recycle. You can get rewards for up to 10 cartridges a calendar month, but you can recycle as many as you want. Your rewards can be used for in-store, online, and phone purchases the following quarter after you earn them.

I love the MaxPerks program and have earned so many great rewards and coupons through it. Even if you don’t have a business, there are plenty of great products for home, families, and gifts at OfficeMax. They also have an affordable copy center. They frequently mail coupons to their MaxPerks members, offer bag discounts in the Sunday paper, and even sometimes have coupons in their sale fliers (like last week)!

For other ways to earn rewards for shopping, see my posts “Get rewarded for shopping – updated!” and “Get rewarded for shopping = Part 2.”

 

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Kosher Birthday Freebies J – P

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

I am sorry for the long delay in posting the more of these kosher birthday freebies. I hope you still enjoy them and get some great freebies!

Kmart Birthday ClubJoin the Kmart Birthday Club and children get $5 Birthday Bucks, a crown, Happy Birthday certificate, and a Fun Pack with surprise goodies!

Krispy Kreme – I could not confirm this on their site, but other sites state that you can receive a free half dozen glazed donuts and a coffee mug with either coffee or soda in it for your birthday! Their sign-up for their Friends of Krispy Kreme does ask for your birthday. Check with your local kashrus agency for the certification of each store and location Krispy Kreme is sold.

Little Tikes By joining their Birthday Bonus programLittle Tikes will send you special discounts, promotions, and offers approximately 30 days before the birthday. You must register at least 7 days before your child’s birthday.

Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream — Join the MaggiE-mail and receive a special offer on your birthday and more!

Medieval Times — Join the Birthday Fellowship at Medieval Times and get a free feast and tournament on your birthday.

Missouri Lottery — Register on the Missouri Lottery My Lottery site and get Draw Game coupons on your birthday.

Olan Mills — Get a free Olan Mills portrait package that includes one 8×10, one 5×7 and four wallets when you join the Birthday Club.

Old Navy — Sign up for their email list and receive an exclusive treat on your birthday. You can also sign up your kids.

OfficeMax — Receive a special coupon for your birthday as part of their Max Perks program, see my post “Get rewarded for shopping – updated!”

Pottery Barn Kids – When you join Pottery Barn Kids’ Birthday Club, your child will receive a personalized birthday card and you will get 10% off one item during your child’s birthday month. This club is for children ages 9 and under.

For more kosher birthday freebies, check out my posts:

If you find others, please share them in the Comments section!

 

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Buying printer paper by the case

English: A stack of copy paper.Over the past 2+ years, I have been searching for ways to save on things we use a lot of. As a teacher and a graduate student (and coupon clipper), I often have to print documents from home. I do try to use the backs of paper by rerunning paper through again for less important documents. However, paper can still be expensive.

For one ream of the 100% recycled printer paper that I like, it costs $8.49 each. For 10 packs (if I bought them throughout the year as I needed them), it would be $84.90 (not including tax). Those ten packs equal a case. If I buy that same case all at once and through their website (this paper is not available by case at the store), it is $55.99. With any order over $50 online at www.officemax.com, the shipping is free.

So about once a year, I buy a case of printer paper online from OfficeMax. They deliver it to my door, so I don’t have to schlep it home via car, and I save $28.91 for one case (these are last year’s prices from 9/2010 when I bought last).

Can’t beat that!

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Rewards for shopping

Over the years, I have seen various customer rewards programs come and go. However, there is one that has reaped great benefits for us. When I was teaching full-time, I signed up for OfficeMax’s free MaxPerks program for teachers. They also have a version for businesses, too. The guidelines have changed over the years, but basically every time you make a purchase you show them your card. It doesn’t matter if you are buying items for your classroom or home, as long as you are a teacher. You then earn credit towards financial rewards. It used to be for every $75 you spent you got $10 on an OfficeMax gift card. I am not teaching now so I am not sure if that has changed. I would recommend to all teachers that you sign up. It is free and you can earn a lot of money back!

Other current rewards programs I am aware of are:

- Pampers Gifts to Grow program (you enter codes from their packaging)

- Huggies Enjoy the Ride Rewards program (you also enter codes from their packaging)

- Babies R Us/Toys R Us rewards (you get a card to show when making purchases)

- JCP Rewards for JC Penney online purchases (see bottom of homepage)

- Borders Rewards

- I would love to hear about any more rewards programs you are aware of. Add a comment to share with everyone!

 

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