Couponing 201: Web savings sources

image of coupon with scissorsYou’ve likely seen the little red shelf-talkers from SmartSource at the grocery store, where you can pull out coupons or rebate forms or advertising concerning new products.  They also have a great web site for printing coupons, which online couponers go to for printing their own coupons.  Perhaps the best known site for this purpose, SmartSource is only one of a myriad of such sites.  Other examples are Red Plum.com, ShopAtHome.com, Coupons.com and an interesting site called the Penny Pincher Gazette, or ppgazette.com, where you can not only print coupons but also find inexpensive recipes and much more.  There are plenty of coupon sites; these are just a few.  Try keying in printable grocery coupons in your search engine and see what you find, but set aside some time for this project!  There are hundreds of sites and not all are above board.  You’ll have to figure out which ones you like best.

Before your next shopping trip, spend a little time getting organized.  Write up your list, gather your coupons, and only then sit down at the computer.  Visit SmartSource and Red Plum.com and other sites you like, printing the coupons for the items you need coupons for.  If your list isn’t already covered in terms of having a coupon for each item (wouldn’t that be nice!), keep looking within a reasonable time limit.

Next, try some of the manufacturer’s sites.  Companies like Pillsbury, Smart Balance, and the like currently have coupons of their own.  While clipping or printing coupons for items you don’t currently need isn’t necessarily a good idea, with manufacturers’ sites, it might be worth it.  They can and will pull their coupons without notice, even while currently running ads.  Another place to check would be sites such as BoxTops4education.com, where you can print a number of coupons for baking mixes and other products that carry BoxTops for Schools.

Some stores have coupons on their own sites, although these are becoming fewer.  Check stores’ individual web sites for printable coupons.   New services, however, are springing up to replace those that are disappearing.  The Kroger and Carr’s/Safeway families of stores also participate in Shortcuts.com.  This is an online coupon service at which you check off the coupons you like and they will be deducted from your total at checkout without your having to present the physical coupon, all in addition to the store card discount and any manufacturer’s coupons. It’s worth checking to see if your store participates, too.

While it takes some time, online coupons are a great source of higher-value coupons.  You have to balance the time and expense with the savings, but it’s kind of fun for a thrifty soul like me!

My next post will cover mobile apps.  Oh boy, they are booming!

Advertisements

Coupons 102: Store Loyalty Cards and Programs

 

Sign up for a savings card if your store offers one.  It will be a source of big discounts and clipless coupons when you scan it at the checkout.  Some stores actually send you “Best Customer” style coupons in the mail as well, which are targeted in conjunction with the items you have purchased with your card as recorded during your shopping trips.  Be aware that the store computers are keeping track of your purchases in this fashion; if you are worried about your privacy, you may not want to take advantage of these savings.  Cough, cough.  These large savings.  I like to scan my own Kroger loyalty card at the end of my transaction just to see the ticker add up – it’s fun!  Drives the cashiers nuts waiting…

There are also online coupon sites that add coupons to your store cards, which I will discuss in another post.

Don’t forget about your pharmacy or discount store cards, either.  Just because they aren’t a grocery store doesn’t mean they aren’t a worthy source of savings.  The key is, don’t buy anything you weren’t going to buy anyway just because it has a coupon.  Keep repeating that mantra or your home will fill with stuff you don’t need and won’t use.

Next time:  POS (point-of-sale) and online coupons.

 

Thrifty Tip of the Day: January is traditionally White Sale month, so if your bed linens are threadbare, now is the time to look at replacing them. 

Couponing 101

image ziggy no coupons comic

Saving money is even more critical for most of us now that prices are higher and money is tighter.  You’ve purchased the Sunday paper for the coupon inserts, clipped the coupons for the items on your list, and you’re ready to shop.  That’s certainly a good start, and you don’t have to resort to Extreme Couponing and the weeks and months of preparation they don’t show you on the television episode.  No need for a price book.

Many people just toss the coupon inserts in the recycle bin, although the numbers of couponers have increased during this recessive economy.  Of those that have used them, most haven’t taken the best advantage of them.  There are plenty of additional sources of coupons and savings.  Used actively, just the coupons from a Sunday newspaper in a medium to large metropolitan area could make that Sunday paper worth buying multiple copies.  Smaller, more rural journals don’t often have enough savings to warrant purchasing extras.

Don’t forget the Sunday newspaper magazines, or monthly magazines, as they often include coupons, with women’s titles being the most likely to include cents-off coupons.  There is even at least one monthly women’s interest magazine that boasts its coupons’ total value right on the cover.  Around food-centric holidays, like Easter or Thanksgiving, coupons increase.  During the fall, with the approach of the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year, there are countless coupon inserts with some even bound right into monthly editions.

There are many ways to generate coupons and savings.  Over the next few posts, I’ll mention a few.  Don’t worry, I won’t slap you with the coupon inserts; it’s not that hard.  But you can save a few bucks each week and that will add up to a nice Christmas Club, yanno?

image pile of clipped coupons