10 Refillable Things That Will Save You Cash


Instead of buying container after container for commonly used items, buy one and use it over and over again by refilling it. Here are 10 refillable items that can save you money.

1. Water Bottles

This is a no brainer. Bottled water is expensive and bad for the environment. Stop picking up a new bottle at the convenience store every time you’re thirsty, and start packing a refillable bottle in your bag or leave one in your car. If you can’t decide which water bottle is best for you, perhaps my post on eco-friendly water bottles will help. (See also: 25 Things to Do With Reusable Water Bottles)

2. Lighters

OK, so you may not use a lighter on a regular basis — unless you’re a smoker — but it’s still cost efficient to buy a refillable lighter instead of a disposable one, even if you’re just keeping them around the house for emergencies. Bic makes refillable lighters, but I personally recommend Zippos because of the cap that keeps the wick dry and protected. Zippos are also much easier to light, and the flame is easier to maintain than plastic lighter, too. 

3. K-Cups

After years of stocking my guest bedroom with disposable K-Cups, I finally broke down and bought two refillable K-Cups from Groupon recently. I paid $16 for the pair, and I picked up a pound of coffee at Home Goods for $6. Those initial investments alone saved me about $10 off the price I would normally pay for a box of 48 disposable K-Cups. I expect that a pound of coffee will produce a similar amount of single cups of coffee. Next time I’ll save even more money because I’ll only have to buy the $6 coffee. 

4. Printer Cartridges

Anyone with a home office knows that one of the most expensive items to keep it up and running is printer ink. The cartridges I use cost about $35 brand new for the black and colored ink bundle. Instead of buying them new every time, however, I have them refilled for about $13 each. Each time I have them refilled, I save about $9 — and then I treat myself to lunch for being such a wise guy.

5. Pens

Ink pens aren’t terribly expensive individually, but if you’re constantly buying new pens, the cost can add up. A pack of 12 disposable pens can run anywhere from $4 to $20, while refillable pens cost in the area of $28. A two-pack of refills for the latter is between $2 and $4. If you use a lot of ink, it’s a wiser investment (for your wallet and the planet) to pick up the refillable kind. Or you just do what I do, and get your pens for free by taking them from wherever they’re handing them out.

6. Mechanical Pencils

Does anyone use pencils anymore? I suppose kids do, but I haven’t picked up a pencil in years. A pack of 12 store-brand disposable pencils from Office Depot cost $1.49, while a Paper Mate Mega Lead mechanical pencil costs $3.24 and comes with 12 lead refills. Separately, the refills are only $2.29 for a pack of 36 leads. The numbers speak for themselves.

7. Soap Dispenser

Instead of buying a new, pre-filled soap dispenser from Target every time the ones in my bathroom or kitchen run out (which is often — I wash my hands A LOT), I buy a single dispenser and purchase a gallon jug of hand soap at BJ’s that I use to fill the dispensers when they’re empty. One jug lasts me for the better part of a year.

8. Prescriptions

I learned a new trick recently while researching information for another article — when you ask your doctor for a prescription, have him prescribe pills that contain double the dose of your medication. The prescription will cost the same as the single dose pills (or close to it), but when you get home you can split the pills in half so they last twice as long. Fewer trips to the pharmacy and more money in my pocket is music to my ears.

9. Travel Mugs

If you’re a Starbucks junky without a travel mug, your carbon footprint is through the roof. So. Many. Wasted. Cups. Tread a little lighter with a reusable, refillable travel mug. KeepCups are my favorite. Plus, to make each day even brighter, Starbucks will discount your morning Joe for doing your part to save the planet. Win-win.

10. Gift Cards

Nobody is refilling their own gift cards — when mine is empty, I simply recycle the plastic — but refillable gift cards are a great idea for parents. Parents can give their kids the cards — for iTunes, their favorite clothing store, or the local cinema — in lieu of cash or credit cards. Refillable gift cards can also be used as a rewards or incentive program at home; when the kid does something helpful, you can surprise him or her with a deposit on the card.

Do you have other refillable items to suggest that will help us save money? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

Where can I get my ink cartridges refilled??

Guest's picture

I have had problems with leaking cartridges from Walgreens. Look up Cartridge World, they reuse/refill your ink or laser cartridges. My HP ink cartridges run about $13 each, Plus they give you a punch card. After 9 refills you get the 10th free - a great deal. They have locations all over the place, but check online to see if there is a location near you. If you go online and you can print up a coupon for $2 off a refill cartridge.

Guest's picture

If you are a Costco member they will fill your ink cartridges while you shop and are pretty inexpensive.

Guest's picture

you can order ink cartridges online. Try searching Ink Cartridges in City for a more local option, might be faster. Also I'd consider looking into refurbished ink. Depends on the company but most have the same quality as new.

Guest's picture

Prescription pill should not be divided because equal amount are not always in each half.

Guest's picture

In what world are kcups frugal??

Mikey Rox's picture

They're not. Which is why I bought the reusable ones. Those are frugal - especially since no coffee is wasted when you make a single cup.

Guest's picture

This is a good post, during this recession its a good idea to keep in mind that we don't always have to buy new ones of things that can be bought, cleaned, and reused. Water bottles especially are a great idea- there is absolutely no need to buy a case of waters every time you go to the store. Its bad for the environment and your bank account. And now they have water bottles with filters built right in- so you can have clean water right from the tap and save yourself a lot of money.

Guest's picture
Purchase Wisely

Does anyone use mechanical pencils? I do, I do! I have one Pentel P225 that I bought in college, and I graduated in 1986. I have two others that I bought a few years later, and my co-workers know that swiping them will have me hunting through the office, since they're no longer made.

A thought on the medications - please make sure that it's safe and they're still effective if you cut them before you do this. I take one medication that is enteric-coated, so it will dissolve in the intestine rather than the stomach, you can't cut those without compromising the coating and making the medicine useless. Make sure to check with your doctor/pharmacist on this one.

Thanks, Mikey, for the tip on the refillable K-Cups. I've been holding off on getting one of the machines because of the "you have to buy what they supply" issue as well as the waste and expense. I'll have to rethink this one now.

Guest's picture

A note on enteric coatings: they exist for two reasons. In some cases the pills are coated because the medicine is destroyed by stomach acid; in others, it's because the medicine would damage the stomach lining if it were released too early.

So I would amplify your comment about cutting or breaking pills: if they're enteric-coated, you risk EITHER making the medicine useless, OR making yourself even sicker.

Guest's picture

Pickle brine! I always refill store-bought pickle jars - once the pickles are gone, I throw fresh veggies in with the leftover brine. Leave in the fridge for a few days and voila! Green beans, cauliflower, and pearl onions are my personal favourites.

Guest's picture

I love all these refillable tips you’ve suggested!! Thank you!!

Guest's picture

why refill printer inkt?
Most of the time you will print in B/W a laser printer can do that better and cheaper than an inktjet. For the prints you will need in color buy a cheap inktjet and the use refilled inkt. That way you will save even more money.

5 years ago i bought a laser printer with the standard cartridge included. It cost me around €70 euro and it is still printing on the same cartridge!

Guest's picture

I save a bit more with using the foaming hand soap pumps. I did an article on the right ratio of hand soap to water when you refill them! http://arizona.todaysmama.com/2012/05/diy-foaming-hand-soap-refill/ It may not save much, but it adds up over time.

Guest's picture

Great article with little suggestions to make a big difference. Since first reading this, the one that sticks in my mind the most is the gift card idea. It seems people either love or hate them since they can be lost easily and create clutter in a wallet, but the idea of getting rewards and discounts from a gift card has potential for the people that prefer them. I think you caught on to a way to save that doesn't get discussed as much as it could.

Guest's picture

Isn't the prescription one insurance fraud?

Guest's picture

You better believe it. If the insurance finds out, they will cancel you and/or sue.

Guest's picture

The soap dispenser idea rocks. We've been doing that for about a year now and I know we've saved a lot of money in the process! Why pay for packaging, right?

Guest's picture

Many of the "disposable" ink pens can take refills. The refills used to be sold at the discount stores right beside the pens. Now I have to order them from an office supply shop, but they are still cheaper than new pens. You don't have to use the same brand refill as the original pen. I find that the Better Refill by Pilot works in several other brands.

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