Biz Miss

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Staples Will Pay for Your Printer Trash (Again) March 8, 2009

In case you haven’t already seen the ads on TV, Staples is once again giving customers $3 for any empty ink or toner cartridge they bring in.  Like OfficeMax and many other large office supply chains, Staples has gone back and forth in recent years about their policy regarding rebates for empties. They ran virtually the same offer five years ago, but then presumably realized that this was a bad business practice, because folks like me were recouping 33% of our ink costs through this program (I had a six-cartridge Canon i9100, and each cartridge only cost $9).

Shortly thereafter, Staples starting accepting only the more costly brands like HP and Epson, which combine multiple ink colors into one large cartridge.  Now, it seems, they’re back to their original policy, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.  Maybe it’s because they want to look “green”.  Maybe it’s a recession-booster.  Either way, I’ve got two Canon printers now, for a total of ten cartridges (the monthly limit).  I can swap out the whole set and get $30 back toward the mailing supplies I’ve been waiting to buy.  Sweet.

There is one catch with the new promotion: you have to be a Staples Rewards member.  They used to just give you a coupon in the store, but it took the cashiers so long to fill it out I never returned my cartridges if there was a line.  Now they send a monthly coupon in the mail to the address on file for your rewards account. I still have my “Rewards for Teachers” account that I set up five years ago, but they have accounts for individuals and businesses, too.  I have never received any unsolicited promos because of my Rewards account but again, I have one for teachers, which is a personal, not a compnay account.  They may also have changed their privacy policy since then, so it makes good sense to check before you sign up.  You do get 10% back on your new ink purchases as well, but they send those coupons separately from the ones for your empties, and only when you’ve earned at least $10 (i.e. bought $100 worth of ink).

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Make it Your Damn Self…if You Can Make it Fast April 2, 2008

One of the advantages of being a creative Biz Miss is that you don’t need to turn to corporate America for many of your office supplies. You can make them yourself. Not only do you save money (and the time spent shopping for these things), you can feel proud that you are exercising your creative muscles and putting your unique stamp onto the things you use every day.

diy plannerI first learned the joy of making your own stuff when I couldn’t find the kind of daily planner I wanted after months of shopping. I needed something that was about A5 (half letter) size, showed an entire week per spread, and had the hours of the day written in. A little section for notes would also be good, but I wasn’t going to be that picky. When nothing turned up, I decided to print my own. I bought a little binder and a few hundred pages of blank A5 paper from Kinokuniya and drew up exactly what I wanted in Adobe Illustrator. It only cost me $6 (far less than if I had bought one) and years later I’m still using it because it’s organized exactly the way my brain wants it to be.

car logThis week I made three things: a car log (with sleeve to stick to the dashboard), a spending diary, and a new wallet to keep my business cards and petty cash separate from my personal stuff. The car log and spending diary took only 5-10 minutes each to make, and they were made entirely from items in my recycling bin. The wallet, on the other hand, while also made entirely from leftover materials, took an inordinate amount of time to make–I’d say 8-10 hours. It’s a fairly complex wallet and I’ve never made a wallet before, so I’m proud to have a finished product that looks and functions exactly the way I want it to, but I probably would have been better off buying something like this for a measly $13.

diary coverspending diarywallet openwallet frontwallet back

I’ve already got my next two projects lined up: a cash apron for craft and design fairs to replace my huge and inconvenient lock box, and a large canvas tote for carrying around sales samples (complete with Sweet Meats iron-on logo) so I can finally toss the ratty plastic H&M shopping bag I’ve been using.

For more DIY inspiration, check out some of the posts at “girl on the rocks.” In this one, she reuses (and improves!) security envelopes from the bills she pays online, and in this one she makes her own fiber content stamps for labeling her yarn. I now turn all of my unused bill envelopes inside out, too. Put a little message or image in the clear window and voila!–a perfect gift envelope that’s personal, funky and doesn’t cost a dime.

If you’ve got a nifty office/studio supply project you’d like to show off, link to it in the comments!