Sunday, January 20, 2008

Breaking News: Online Coupons

Since many Americans are resolving to save money in 2008, Yahoo News featured an article today on the top sites for online coupons. It was even in the Personal Finance section, which makes couponing seem very important, very Wall Street. Perhaps we couponers can band together and ring the Market's opening bell. Yeah, right.

Online coupons function in the same way as the ones clipped from newspaper inserts, with a few exceptions:

1.) On the upside, these coupons are found in a convenient format that many Internet-savvy folks prefer -- a check list. (Now, who doesn't love a list?) You choose the coupons that interest you or that meet the needs of your family without having to page through porcelain doll and orthopedic shoe offers. The ones you choose are the only coupons that print, then you clip them and use them at the store like any other.

2.) On the downside, when I've used Internet coupons in the past, a single coupon would print per page along with a full-page color ad. I was unable to get the coupons to print to grey scale or more than one per page, and while it may have been some conspiracy of the product manufacturer, it was more likely my lack of computer skills that kept me in a frequent state of frustration. A 35-cent coupon for "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" became less valuable as it used up a full color ink cartridge on my printer. (If you use Internet coupons and can tell me how to overcome my woes, please share. If you've never used Internet coupons before, please be aware of this potential problem before you click to print. Try one first, then add more.)

Another downside is the fact that some stores limit the number of Internet coupons they will accept. I've seen both Albertsons and Kroger post a sign limiting the number of Internet coupons per transaction, but those limitations come and go. (Apparently there have been some abuses.) Be aware of this, and check around the cash register for a posting before you get down to some serious shopping. If it's not posted, you could (A) ask at customer service, or (b) take your chances. Regardless, do be courteous and clip the coupon out of the full sheet of paper. You laugh, but I've seen people show up with a whole sheet and expect the cashier to deal with it, and that is just not nice.

Have you used Internet coupons and have tips to offer, either good or bad?

A couple of other coupon tips: You can buy large stocks of clipped coupons for very little money on eBay. I guess some people enjoy clipping them but not using them. This is good resource if you'd like to get started on the business of saving, but haven't been buying the Sunday Double Deal in bulk.

Additionally, did you know you can use many Health and Beauty coupons in the trial-sized/travel product section? Unless a coupon specifically states a smallest size or says "Not Valid on Trial Size," the coupon will often work, and many times the coupon will make the product free or very inexpensive. This has been helpful in our home because it allows us to get some trial-products for James' travel without it affecting our budget. (Oh, the airlines and their pesky new regulations!) Wal-Mart has a decent trial-size section, but I've found more coupon friendly products at Target. Happy couponing!

2 comments:

  • Julie

    Thanks for the article info.
    I always clip coupons. Currently, I also get the internet coupons from SmartSource.com. You have to register(it is free), however, no advertisements print - only the coupons you selected.
    Some of the coupons are worthless, others are great.
    I can't wait to try some of the other sites noted in the article.

  • Jacquelyn

    Online coupons are much convenient and easy to use than other paper coupons.

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