Game, Set, Match
Coupon match-up sites, which combine available coupons and promotions with sales at major grocery stores anywhere in the country, allow users to save time and maximize savings. "These sites tell you exactly where to find each coupon in the newspaper, so you can go right ahead and clip it without wasting any time," says Jill Cataldo, author of the newspaper column and video series Super Couponing Tips. "They follow the cycle, they give you a list of what's on sale at your local store, and they match the coupons up for you."
Savings Angel, a subscribed Web application, is one of our favorites. In addition to coupon match-ups at many the biggest grocery stores and drug stores in the country, the website offers a staff of 100 "angels" who provide personalized tips on how to make the most of your shopping trip.
Money Saving Mom offers more than just a comprehensive coupon database. You can also use the site to find daily deals on products and services; online savings for drugstores; a preview of each Sunday's coupon inserts; and weekly freebies and giveaways.
Erin Klones, a mom from Seattle, WA and the author of two blogs, Coupon Newbie and Simply Frugal Mom, swears by the mega-site CouponMom.com. "If I'm wondering if there's a coupon for a product I need, I'll just go to Coupon Mom and search for that item," she says. "The site will tell me if there was a coupon in the newspaper for that week, if there's a printable coupon for that product, or if any local stores have that product on sale."
Print Out Savings
If you don't have this week's newspaper handy, or if you're looking for extra savings, printable coupons can be a great resource. You can find both local store deals and national manufacturer's coupons any day of the week. Before you print, though, check your store's coupon policy to make sure they accept printables, and that you can use them in conjunction with newspaper coupons.
On SmartSource.com, just enter your zip code and you'll immediately find a list of coupons that are valid in your area. RedPlum organizes grocery coupons, drugstore coupons, and restaurant coupons into categories for easy navigation.
Valpak, a local coupon site, displays coupons to small stores, restaurants, and businesses in your area, much like the coupon flip-books that arrive in your mailbox each month.
Coupons.com is a huge database of national manufacturers' coupons, local coupons, coupon codes, and savings card deals. Its weekly SuperSaver email newsletter offers even more deals for members.
Plug In Your Loyalty Card
Your grocery store rewards card is terrific for extra savings, but did you know you can use it to store coupons? Many grocery stores allow you to download electronic coupons to your loyalty card on their websites, saving you the time and mess of printing and carrying coupons from your computer. If your supermarket doesn't offer this option, try some of these sites:
Cellfire finds coupons in your area and lets you to store them on either your loyalty card or your mobile phone. Your coupons are automatically redeemed when you use your savings card at checkout, or when you show your mobile coupon to the cashier.
P&G eSaver allows you to sign up for its free coupon database and store any coupon you want on your store card. After your purchase, you can scan your shopping card and see how much you save on each grocery store trip.
Shortcuts.com also helps you register your store loyalty card and store coupons when you sign up, automatically deducting coupons at checkout and cutting down clipping time.
If you're stressing about your kid's college fund, Upromise, a site run by loan provider Sallie Mae, has a creative solution. Register your grocery store cards, and with every register scan you'll add a little money to an account that will go toward a college savings plan, paying down student loans, or a check for college expenses.
Get App Happy
Have a smartphone? You can cut the time you would have spent flipping through newspaper inserts, scrolling through websites, or even comparing prices in your store with mobile couponing apps. "These apps find coupons and deals for whichever grocery store or mall you're in at the time," says Ellie Kay, financial consultant and author of Living Rich for Less. "They can also help direct you to where the best values are on the things that you're looking for."
Coupon Sherpa is a resource for electronic grocery, home, and retail coupons. You can print coupons from their website or download their app to your smartphone for savings on the go.
Retail Me Not, another one of our favorites, offers over 400,000 coupon codes from stores like Lands' End, J.C. Penney and Kohl's to scan at the register or fill in online at checkout.
We also like Yowza, which picks up on your location and provides customized mobile coupons that you can scan straight from your smartphone. While you're shopping, use your phone to check each store's website -- national chains often provide mobile coupons on their sites.
Enter the Blogosphere. Coupon blogs aren't just a place for moms to show off their incredible savings. Large match-up sites like CouponMom.com find deals for you when you input your location in a database, but many local bloggers make it easier by providing only deals for supermarkets in your area. Klones uses coupon blogs in her area to compile her grocery list and find coupons each week. "Blogs do a lot of the work for me," she says. "Like a lot of working moms, I don't have time to go through the newspaper ads myself each week. But lots of awesome bloggers in each region do have that time, and finding blogs for your local stores to find those match-ups for you is really helpful."
Some of our favorite local coupon blogs are Cincinnati-based CincySavers, Frugal Living Northwest, and Southern Savers.
Be a follower. If you follow your favorite stores and products on Facebook and Twitter, you'll be able to find deals before many other customers do -- and sometimes you'll get coupons and savings exclusive to social media followers. Check your supermarket's website for email newsletters, where subscribers can be notified of sales each week. You can also follow major coupon sites, like Coupons.com and CouponMom.com, on Facebook to find printable coupons, match-ups, and exclusive sales and giveaways.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.