Mine is not a popular view: Millions of Americans have turned to coupons to save money in this economy. Now, if you use a coupon for something you already need, that's one thing. But as we know, couponing has, for some, turned into an unhealthy obsession.
There's no limit as to how far some will go to dig up a buy-one-get-one-free offer; some aficionados are even said to be stealing neighbors' Sunday papers for their coupon inserts.
Now the folks behind CouponSherpa.com have created a master list of 52 places where you can locate coupons these days. Some, like newspaper inserts and online coupon Web sites, are obvious, but many on the list were rather surprising.
Here are the five weirdest:
Next: Buy them on eBay
Did you know that eBay sells coupons? I did a search and there are currently more than 78,000 items in that category -- some up for bids, but many available to "buy now."
There are several listings for batches of "100 grocery store coupons," many worth $1 off or more, with bidding for the lot starting at around $1. Even I will admit that's an interesting deal: If you find even 10% of the coupons worthwhile, that's money well spent.
But then I'm reminded by the compulsion when I see listings for 20 identical cereal coupons, which expire in about 3 weeks. You'll either need a lot of cereal lovers in your household -- or a big pantry.
Next: Outsource the clipping
Too busy to clip your own coupons? There are actual coupon clipping companies that will do the work for you for a very small fee.
Next: Check the mail
Coupon trains let you exchange coupons with others through the mail.
CouponSherpa explains how it works: "An envelope of coupons, usually 40 to 200, is mailed from the 'conductor' to the first person on the list. They remove their desired coupons and replace them with those of equal value and number before mailing the envelope on the next member of the train."
You can create trains with specific coupons for babies, pets, household products, etc. Shoppers look online to find passengers at sites like MommySavers.com and the message board at TheGroceryGame.com.
Next: Hit the airport
I would never have thought of this, but CouponSherpa says airports are filled with coupons -- you just have to know where to look.
They suggest coupon hunters check out discarded newspapers and magazines, then grab unclaimed coupons. Personally, my favorite airport coupon is the Southwest drink ticket ... which you can actually find on eBay selling at 4 for $3. A $20 value -- not bad at all.
Next: Think inside the box
CouponSherpa reminds us that coupons are often hidden inside frozen food and cereal boxes. And they're right! I just checked my box of Post Shredded Wheat (I know, boring) and -- lo and behold -- a coupon for one free Del Monte fruit cup, worth up to $1.59.
Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter/farnoosh
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