It once seemed like an old-fashioned way to save money -- clipping coupons. But in this economy, coupons are as popular as ever. The difference now: you don't so much "clip" as "click" to save, and if you do it right, you may never have to pay full price again.
The "Saturday Bargainista" is dedicated to bringing you the best bargains every week so we've brought in Lisa Lee Freeman, Editor-in-Chief of "ShopSmart" magazine, with some tips for savvy coupon shopping.
There are a huge number of coupons to be found on the internet, but you often need a secret code to use them. How do you find that?
That's where "aggregator" sites come in. There are people who have set up sites strictly for the purpose of finding bargain coupons, and passing them on. They will post the coupon codes you need to use when you go to the manufacturer's, or the store's Web site, looking for online discounts.
We said there's very little you'll have to pay full price for anymore. So let's begin with groceries: we used to get coupons in the mail or at the store, but you say there's a better way to get more coupons, and save more money.
There are a lot of different ways to find coupons for supermarkets. First, there is a Web site called Coupons.com. Mygrocerydeals.com actually scans the coupons for different shops in different cities and offers them up on the site. And Shortcuts.com is another great coupon site.
These sites will offer a lot of different coupons for a lot of products. As another option, you can go directly to the supermarket's own Web site, which should give you a list of coupons they're offering.
Finally, you can go to the manufacturer's website for the products you're looking for, and they will almost always have coupons on their website that you can print out and bring to the store with you. This is especially helpful if there's something you buy a lot of.
And will all stores honor the coupons you've printed out?
No, most will, but not all. You need to check with your local supermarket to see if they honor manufacturers coupons. If they don't, you might want to shop around for a supermarket that does. But you'll want to know before you go shopping whether or not they'll honor your coupons.
What if you're shopping online? We always hear about special ways to save.
Begin with the "aggregator" sites, the websites that will give you a list of coupons available for tons of different products, designers and shops.
One of our favorites is retailmenot.com, You'll see when you shop on the Internet, there's usually a box that asks for a "promotion code." This site gives you the promotion codes for sales, and on retailmenot, those codes are actually reported to the site by customers who have used them, so you know you are getting accurate information.
You should also check freeshipping.org if you're shopping online, because it will tell you which sites have great shipping deals, but it will also alert you to coupons that are out there.
But how do you find the best coupon deals if you're shopping in the stores?
One thing you can do is to google the name of the retailer, and their coupon code if you have it. That will give you a lot of different sites that are offering coupons for the store, or for the product, you want to buy.
Again, you should also look on the aggregators sites. Shopittome.com is a great site for finding coupons for clothing purchases. Again, you can also go to the shop's own website. They will often ask you to join in order to get coupons or sale information, but you can also sign up for alerts, which will let you know when there is a special deal, or a coupon on offer. You'll also find out when sales are coming up ahead of time, and you might be alerted to an early shopping day for the sale, which might give you a better deal than the general public is getting.
And you say you can use coupons to get even better bargains at outlet stores?
Yes. You should always check the outlet mall's own Web site. It will give you a list of all the coupons available for all the shops in the outlet mall. And you can get special deals. I was shopping at Woodbury Common in New York, which is an outlet mall, and I checked the website before I left. I found a coupon for a free mall coupon book, which cost everyone else $10. So, when I got there, there was a line of people waiting to pay $10 for a coupon book that I could get for free, because I had taken the time to print out my coupon for the book before I left home.
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