Free Printer: How to Avoid Getting Ripped-Off on Refills

Costco gives you a free color printer practically every time you buy a computer, for instance. You get a free "Fusion ProGlide" razor when you buy a four-pack of shaving gel -- but fresh blades cost a small fortune. Electric toothbrushes aren't free, but new brush "heads" can overwhelm the cost of the whole toothbrush set up in less than a year.

There are an increasing number of ways to work around the rip-off prices for ink, razors and even replacement heads for your electric toothbrush. Printer ink: 3 Ways to Save

Jeff Bertolucci, a contributing writer for PC World magazine, is the go-to guy if you want to know how to refill those costly inkjet cartridges without breaking the bank. He's spent months running through pounds of printer ink, experimenting with bargain sites and refilling his own printer cartridges. Do it Yourself: If you refill your own printer cartridges, you can get the cost of ink down to about 2 cents a page, he says. And the quality of DIY refilled-ink isn't half-bad -- even when you're printing photos. Office Depot and Cartridge World offer remanufactured cartridges, but Bertolucci doesn't recommend them. The cost: $8 to $10 per cartridge, which is about one-third of the price of buying new -- and about half the price of remanufactured cartridges. One trick you should know: You should refill the cartridges promptly when they run low of ink. Each cartridge usually can be refilled 5 to 10 times. Conserve: Another way to save on ink? Instead of printing with the standard quality settings, set your printer to "draft" or "fast draft" mode, which uses less ink per page. Razors

Did you get Gillette's free "Fusion ProGlide" razor with your shaving gel, but have an attack when you realized that Costco's bargain 14-pack of razor-head refills costs a whopping $44.99? For the math challenged, that's less than one-seventh the price of the blade refills.

But you really like a five-blade razor's $24.50 8-pack ProGlide refill is a slightly better deal -- about $3.06 per blade -- but only if you qualify for free shipping.

Another alternative M5 Magnum offers a 5-blade disposable razor that costs a fraction as much as the ProGlide -- about $15 for the 18-pack at Costco, which works out to 83 cents a razor. Electric toothbrushes

They're certainly not free, but with the Philips Sonicare "Essence" electric toothbrush 2-pack -- replete with three brush heads, two charger bases and two travel cases -- going for $89.99 at Costco, you've got to figure that each toothbrush costs less than $35.

Yep. That would be nearly $10 a toothbrush top. The brush heads double the price of your toothbrush investment in less than a year.

If you don't have gingivitis or some other serious oral health issue, the standard 8-pack of toothbrushes costs $13.99 -- $1.75 each. Instead of looking at the price of the unit, check the price of the refills first.

Checking the Oral B website, for example, you can see that their least-costly brush-heads, which run $4.25 if you buy the biggest package, work with the the Advance Power, Triumph and Professional Care tooth brushes. If you get the Sonic Complete toothbrush, you'll spend nearly $13 a brush head. Pulsonic and Cross Action brush heads ran $7.49 and $8.32 respectively.

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