Years ago, I used to get free samples all the time. You input your whole life story and in exchange, the company sends you a free sample. While that’s all good and fine, it seemed like to me, I either never used the samples or I liked them and ended up having to buy a full size product.
So, it became clear to me…why not just get the full size products of the brands I use for free in the beginning. This would save me time and give me more privacy with filling out those forms for free samples.
So began my quest…
A challenge I’ve become very good at over the years. The trick to living the good life on less is not spending money on things most people buy. I get a lot of my products for free! You can see my article on how I get all my household goods and children’s supplies for free (without using coupons) as well by clicking here.
Staples is definitely no exception on the free boat, but it’s not JUST about getting items for free. It’s also about quality, my main objective in saving money.
In addition to having great prices, good sales, quality merchandise, a fantastic ink program, did I mention free stuff (?!), the stores are also clean, the checkers are friendly and it’s always an overall great experience. They never hassle with returns, even when it’s past the date. This tells me they care more about their customers than money, making them one of my top 5 brands I love the most!
Get Items You Use Everyday for FREE at Staples
Step 1: Start Saving All Your Empty Ink Cartridges
Staples pays you $2 per cartridge, limit 10 per month. You can sign up online to get your rewards emailed to you (faster than snail mail). Print them out and use them in the store or online.
So, if you’re using ink at your place of employment and its okay with your boss, don’t throw away the empty cartridges. Save what you use at home. You can even ask friends to save your ink cartridges for you as well.
It’s great to recycle, even more so, when your PAID to do it. So, every month, I get my $20 that I get to spend in the store on ANYTHING I want. Add $240/year to my resume of creating resources while being able to stay at home!
When your turning in your ink cartridges, you can go to any checkout lane and turn them in. They will ask for your reward card. This is most important.
Step 2: Sign Up for a Staples Rewards Card
You will want to have a rewards card to keep track of all your purchases and earn your money (if you ever need to do a return and don’t have your receipt, the rewards card will help!). Sign up here.
When your creating your online account (either through your first order on their site or the rewards card), there’s a check box your going to want to select. It’ll say something like, receive promotional emails, blah, blah. Make sure to select that.
Step 3: Sign Up for Staples Promotional Emails
You most certainly want those emails. On occasion they send out things that are not relevant to me, but overall, the good far outweighs the bad. WHY? Because in those emails you, and you alone, will have access to all the BEST coupons.
This is where it gets interesting!
I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I can pretty much time it. Every 2 months on average, they will send you out a FABULOUS coupon. It may be $5 off $10 purchase, $10 off $25. Those are awesome coupons and guess what, you CAN use them in the same purchase as your rewards for turning in the ink.
Step 4: Use Coupons and Then Stack Them
Using 2 or more coupons in the same purchase is called stacking coupons.
Lets say, for example, you want to purchase two new ink cartridges. The new ink cartridge costs $23.99 each ($47.98 total). You have a $20 off $50 coupon and your rewards for $20. You will want to add something small to your basket to get your total to the $50 thresh hold. Maybe its a pack of paper, $3.99.
So, your new total is $51.97. You hand over your rewards card, they scan it, next give them your coupons, one at a time. They scan your $20 off $50. Your total is down to $31.97. They scan your $20 rewards check and your down to $11.97. $12 for $52 in items. That’s a savings of 77% off retail! But wait, it gets totally better!
Step 5: Use Staples Rebates
Every week or two, Staples has products FAR (free after rebate). The only trick is that you have to make 100% sure the product your buying is the product in the ad. If you’re not sure, ask. The employees are always more than happy to oblige. So, this is how I get my printer paper free. I NEVER pay for printer paper. In fact, at the moment I write this, I have TWO FULL cases of paper in the garage! They give out paper a LOT. Every time they do, you can score 2 of them. So, lets use another scenario.
You want to buy 1 ink cartridge. They are $19.99. You also want to purchase some paper towels. Their regular price is, by far, cheaper than anywhere else, even Walmart (yes I said it, Walmart is rarely cheaper than other places, but I’ll tell you about that later 🙂 ). But this week that I write this, Staples has their Bounty Basic paper towels on SALE for $6.99 for 12 rolls!!!!! That’s like 58 cents a roll!
This week, you also have a $10 off $20 break room supplies coupon! So, you can buy two paper towel packages and something else inexpensive to meet that thresh-hold or 3 paper towel packages and stock up for the whole year! I like to use Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Those are part of the break room supplies.
If you want to go online to play around with some things and see your total before going to the store, that’s a great idea. I actually order everything online and they bring it to my door because once you hit a certain amount in spending on your rewards card, they start bumping you up levels. Each level is increased perks!
Throw in your two FAR printer paper packs (regular price $5.99). You also have your rewards check for $20.
So, before coupons, your total looks like this: $19.99+$6.99+$6.99 +$6.99 +$5.99 + $5.99= $52.94. Use your $10 off $20 break room coupon and use your rewards check of $20 and your new total is: $22.94 and as soon as you go home and enter the info online for the FAR printer paper, your new total is: $10.96 for 1 ink, 2 papers, and 3-12 packs of paper towel. I don’t know where else you can go and get all that for $11!
Now, it gets better.
Yes, it REALLY does! This is why I love Staples so much!
Step 6: Add Up Your Savings
Every single purchase you make, you earn a % back on. At this time, its 5%. So, you paid $52.94 and they do minus out the break room coupon you used in the previous example, so $42.94. They will go by THAT amount. They don’t count your FAR, they don’t count your rewards checks! So, you just made $2.14 on that purchase in rewards to be added to your next rewards. So, you brought your total down THIS time from $10.96 to $8.82 for 2 printer paper packs, 1 ink, and 3-12 paper towel packs. $9!
By now, you should know what I’m going to say….it gets better! I kid you not!
Step 7: Always Use Double Rewards on Ink
I bet you’re wondering when you turn in your ink. Every 2-3 months, Staples does a promotion where they give you DOUBLE the rewards back when you turn in ink and purchase $50 in ink. So, I go to the store, and yes, I stack EVERYTHING from the previous example (so not typing that all out again! lol).
You simply add $30.01 more in ink and turn in your old empty cartridges at the same time (in the SAME transaction!!) You are earning $4 per ink cartridge instead of $2. Limit 5 usually. So, I turn in my 10 cartridges and I have $30 now instead of $20 rewards coming back to me!
Can it possibly get any better? YES! Yes, it can!
On top of all of that, I also have a $20 off $50 printer ink coupon. Again, they all can stack as long as I meet those thresh holds.
Can you see now the possibilities of walking out of the store with bags of free stuff and the cops NOT being called on you! I’ve been doing this for about 2 years now and I’ve never had any problems.
Step 8: Use Coupon Sites
A while back, there was a promotion going on Recycle Bank where I cashed in 300 points for a $25 off $50 Staples coupon! I cashed out quite a few of those coupons! It’s really easy to earn points with them too! Click here to check them out. They always have great coupons that I like to use. I just cashed one out for Bed, Bath, and Beyond. $5 off $10 purchase!
Step 9: Use Rewards Sites
On your Staples online purchases, simply go to Ebates FIRST and click-through to earn 2% off your total purchase at Staples. As you can see, your earnings can add up. Your $8.82 total easily becomes $0.00 when you’re applying all these methods! I’m not just talking chump change with Ebates either. My Ebates account currently has $1,943.33 in it.
It adds up fast! In addition to that cash back, I use my Paypal debit card and I get cash back on that card as well. I get the savings coming, going, and everywhere in between and you can too if you spend smart!!!!
Checklist to saving the most money at Staples:
- Save your empty ink cartridges
- Sign up for a Staples Rewards Card
- Get on Staples email list
- Sign up at Recycle Bank
- Join Ebates (get a $10 free gift card when you join!)
- Sign up for a Paypal debit card