Garage Sale Tip #3

Today’s tip is the third in an ongoing series called Garage Sale Tips.

Almost every time I go out to source at garage sales, I see a certain item that I can buy for next to nothing and easily use to turn a few quarters into $20.00. What am I talking about? Expired printer ink cartridges.

17802_gr960If you have a Staples office store nearby, then you can take advantage of an easy program that lets you trade in ink cartridges for store credit. Currently, Staples will give you $2.00 per ink cartridge (up to 10 cartridges per month). To see the details of this program, just click here.

When I see ink cartridges at garage sales, I always look at the expiration date, and almost 100% of the time, the ink cartridges are expired. What makes me laugh is that the ink cartridges usually expired around 2005. Why people keep them that long is anyone’s guess. The good news is that you can use the fact that these are expired ink cartridges as a way to get them for next to nothing. Here is the usual conversation I have at a garage sale when I see expired ink cartridges:

Stephen – “I see you have a few ink cartridges that expired back in 2007. Would you take a quarter for them?”
Seller – “Oh, I didn’t realize they were expired. Sure, you can take ‘em for a quarter.”  

Sometimes the conversations even go like this:

Stephen – “I see you have 5 ink cartridges that expired back in 2007. Would you take a dollar for them all?”
Seller – “Oh, I didn’t realize they were expired. You can just have ‘em.”  

See, sometimes I even get these money makers for free. As a rule, I never pay over a quarter for the expired ink cartridges. Even if they expired in 2012, I’ll still just offer a quarter. 95% of the time, the seller will accept the quarter for the expired ink.

IMG_8639The next step is to take the ink cartridges to a local Staples store. Be sure you are a Staples Rewards member (it’s fast and free to sign up). Tell the cashier that you want to recycle the ink and drop off the cartridges. If you drop off 10 cartridges (the maximum you can per month) then you’ll get a Staples store credit certificate for $20.00. You just turned $2.50 into $20.00! If you do this every month, you’ll turn a $30 investment into $240 in a year. Thats a profit of $210!

The only catch is that you have to spend $30 on ink at Staples every 180 days to keep yourself eligible for this reward. With all your FBA-related printing, this is easy to do, and you still come out making a great profit for all the quarters you spend on each ink cartridge.

If you don’t have a Staples store near you, you can still profit off of ink cartridges. The site inkrecycling.org offers up cash for your ink. They want you to ship the cartridges to them (shipping is free), and then they’ll pay you depending on what cartridge you send them.

Anybody else tried the Staples ink recycling program? Do you know other ways to make money off of expired ink cartridges from garage sales?

10 responses to “Garage Sale Tip #3

  1. One more thing… You can also find expired ink at Thrift Stores. You can ask a manager if you can have those for a reduced rate as well. Usually, they will agree to the reduced price.

  2. Anne Zarraonandia

    Love the staples recycling program- I use my $20 per month for buying bubble wrap for shipping fragile items on eBay
    Great tip’

  3. I just bought a bag of ink cartridges today at a thrift shop for that very purpose! The whole bag was $1.00!

  4. Why sell them to Staples cheap when expired ink sells well on eBay. You are leaving money on the table.

  5. The last few times I took cartridges to Staples, I didn’t get a store credit, and after looking into it, it now seems that you only get that if the cartridges were purchased at Staples. Has anyone else found that?

    • Staples has a stipulation in their ink-buy-back program that you need to buy a certain amount of ink from them over a certain time period in order to get the buy-back credit.

  6. Great post. I love it when I can find ways to “work the system.”

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