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The Fundamentals of Using Coupons

Using CouponsSince the mid 1800s, merchants have been offering coupons to entice consumers
to use their products and visit their stores. Saving money with coupons is such a profitable hobby that there’s even a reality show on the subject! Coupons make it possible to save on food, clothing, toiletries, cleaning products and much more. While you may not have the time to invest into “couponing” that the reality show stars put in, just a little bit of effort can reap nice rewards. Keep in mind, every penny adds up — and it can lead to substantial savings! Here are some of the options to consider and tips to help you gain the most from your efforts.

Traditional Coupon Options

Although the Internet has changed the coupon collecting game, traditional coupons are far from dead and they can provide huge amounts of savings. Manufacturers (and retailers) continue to offer deals in a variety of traditional formats. Here are some of the options still available to consumers:

  • Magazines– While nearly all magazines have coupons, they generally relate to the subject of the magazine. So if you’re hoping to cash in at the supermarket, you will glean the most coupons from a home-style or cooking periodical. Don’t expect to save a whole lot with coupons cut from magazines, as they aren’t the most profitable subscription when it comes to couponing.
  • Newspapers – The richest source in numbers and monetary value is the local Sunday newspaper. You’ll find coupon inserts compromised of a variety of national brand products from food, cleaning products, restaurants, home service companies and more all geared to the market you live in. When you consider the potential for saving hundreds of dollars, the cost of the paper is definitely a great investment. Keep in mind that every newspaper carries the same inserts. So if you’re really looking to reap substantial savings, you’ll need to check out all those available in your community.
  • Manufacturers – One area that many people neglect to check is directly with the manufacturer. Many companies appreciate the loyalty of their customers and would be happy to provide coupons as way of thanks. Check out their website for printable coupons, as well.
  • In-store Displays – Tear-off coupon forms are displayed in front of some products, especially for a new or improved product. Look for “Save $$$ Now” hanging tags on promoted products.
  • Labels, Boxes, and Cartons – Some manufacturers use the packaging of their products to promote savings. “Buy this product and try it for Free” offers will include the rebate form right on the packaging.
  • Coupon Exchange – Ask friends, family and neighbors to pass you any inserts they won’t use. Offer to take any extras, undelivered issues off the hands of your newspaper carrier. Start a coupon club with other like-minded people and exchange your unwanted coupons for those you can use.

Online Coupons & Deal Sites

With the advent of the Internet, a whole new method of coupon collecting has emerged. With hundreds of coupon sites to choose from, you can easily find deals for almost any Internet purchase. Many websites also allow you to print coupons for use at retail stores, being just one. And other unique services, such as Groupon, allow you to receive personalize daily deals by email or sent directly to your cell phone.

Organize for Easier Redemption

To benefit the most from your coupon collecting efforts, organization is key. If your collection of coupons is small, buy a coupon holder or a recipe box with dividers. For larger collections, a three-ringed binder with divided pages, like those for baseball card collections, will allow more detailed categories. Label the dividers into generic categories that will make sense to you. (Canned Goods, Dairy, Paper Products, Cleaning Supplies, Frozen Foods, Health & Beauty Products, etc.) Then within each category sort the coupons by expiration date.

Clean out expired coupons monthly and use the oldest coupons first (if possible). By collecting coupons from a variety of sources, and following these tips, you’ll reap the most benefits.

* Problems with debt? Consider a debt settlement program.

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