By Lynn Truong
Today we're going to talk about new trends in couponing.
Couponing has changed dramatically in the last few years. Since its peak in 1992, coupon use began a steady decline until 2007. That’s when demand for coupons started rising again as food prices went up, and web-savvy shoppers started to use coupon sites to find savings more efficiently. Now, more money-saving resources are available than ever for bargain hounds. Though many still arm themselves every Sunday with scissors and cute coupon organizers, there are plenty of ways to save without getting your hands dirty, so to speak.
Use the Web to Find the Best Coupons and Deals
The art of couponing is definitely making a comeback, and as technology offers new ways of distributing coupons and announcing deals, more shoppers are joining in on the action. Additionally, the current economic climate has helped rebrand the frugal lifestyle. Frugality has suddenly become cool, and coupons have become a symbol of being a wise shopper, rather than a cheap one.
Though electronic discounts and coupons still only account for about 3 percent of all coupons used, that number represents a 25% increase over the amount redeemed last year. That's nearly 10 million digital coupons redeemed in the first half of 2009.
Retailers, advertisers, and marketers are all getting in on the action, using coupons for special promotions and events. It's no longer about mass direct mailings, but customized delivery to each individual shopper. Personally, I love it when Jack sends me a personalized email, addressing me by name, to tell me about the latest Jack in the Box promotion. It's an email I specifically asked for, and often look forward to.
Are you ready to join the digital age and say goodbye to coupon clipping without losing the savings? Check out these sites and services.
There are many great sites that aggregate all available coupons in one place.
There are many great sites that aggregate all available coupons in one place. On these sites you just have to search for the store or product you want coupons for and relevant coupons will show up. These sites offer print-at-home coupons as well as electronic codes for online shoppers. Some sites, like Shortcuts.com, allow you to link coupons to your store savings card. For example, if you have a Vons card, you can search for Vons coupons, select the ones you want, and it'll be added to your Vons card. When you're checking out, swipe your Vons card and your coupons will apply! Sites like these help you easily find savings without having to wade through products and stores that you aren't interested in like you do with coupons in the paper. Go directly to your favorites and save! Popular coupon sites like RetailMeNot are cashing in with the coupon craze, seeing over 10 million visitors per month. For a list of the best coupons websites, visit Dealista on quickanddirtytips.com.
Deal sites aggregate all discounts and sales. They display all special offers by retailers—not just coupons. These sites also allow you to set up custom alerts. Are you shopping for a laptop? You can have sites send you deals for laptops only. Rather than having to constantly check these sites, you'll be notified immediately when something you are eyeing goes on sales. Sites like Dealnews.com and Slickdeals.net also offer editor picks and allow users to vote and comment on deals. That way you’ll know if an advertised deal is really worth it. Be warned; it’s easy to get so excited by a deal that you buy things you don’t actually need: you might end up saving loads of money, but on stuff you didn't intend to buy! For a list of the most popular deal websites, visit Dealista on quickanddirtytips.com.
Use Twitter to Get Good Deals
If you are a Twitter addict, you might as well put it to some extra good use. Retailers like Nordstrom, JCPenney, Zappos, and Office Depot as well as local restaurants are sending promotions, coupons, and deals exclusively to their Twitter followers. Many coupon and deal sites are also offering Twitter alerts. Never miss a deal again by getting notification about coupons and deals in real time in your twitter feed. In addition to signing up to follow specific retailers and coupon sites, twitter-specific aggregators are available as well. These sites collect all the deal tweets together in one place. CheapTweet and CouponTweet are two popular ones.
A recent article in the New York Times featured the rise of mobile coupons. Mobile coupons are coupons that are delivered straight to your cell phone and more and more sites are popping up to offer this service. No more messy, crumpled coupons to carry. No more forgetting to bring them with you. Get them sent directly to you, wherever you are. Then when you’re checking out you simply show your cell phone to the cashier and voila. Sign up with services like Cellfire and Yowza, and if you have an iPhone, Coupon Sherpa is an app that handles coupons for popular retailers. For a list of more places that offer mobile coupons, go to Dealista on quickanddirtytips.com.
Follow the blogs of deal hounds that share your interests. Baby Cheapskate updates several times a day to bring you the best baby, kid, and maternity bargains. LA Times's Daily Travel & Deal Blog lists the best travel deals of the day. They're doing the hard work of scouring the web for the best deals that you're interested in. For more deal blogs, go to Dealista on quickanddirtytips.com.
Coupons for Sale
And lastly, it may seem like an odd idea at first, to pay for a coupon, but provided that you are sure that you will use it (and it's a coupon you couldn't get free somewhere else), buying a coupon for less than its value definitely still saves you money. Go to eBay and Craigslist to find coupons for sale.
The number of sites and services might seem overwhelming at first, but most allow for extreme customization. Only choose to receive coupons from stores you select, or for products you specify. Some websites even offer features like location-specific coupons. You can get coupons for stores in your area only!
Move your frugal strategies up the technology ladder and let others do the work for you. In addition to the savings in money, it saves time and trees. It's a win-win-win!
This has been an episode of Dealista’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Getting More for Less, brought to you by Wise Bread, a personal finance blog that helps you live large on a small budget. Remember to check The Dealista site on quickanddirtytips.com for a list of all the best coupon websites, deal websites, and deal blogs.
Send us your questions, comments, and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us 206-203-0282.
CouponCabin (www.couponcabin.com) -- A popular coupon site that updates their directory three times a day to keep their coupons fresh. Their straightforward navigation allows you to find coupons based on features like most used, printable, and free samples.
Coupon Code (www.couponcode.com) -- A clean and simple coupon site that offers discounts for over a thousand stores. You'll have no problems finding just the right discount for you.
Coupon Mom (www.couponmom.com) -- A favorite site for the busy mom, Coupon Mom breaks up the offerings into easy to manage and digest sections. Find printable grocery deals by state, restaurant coupons, free offers and samples, and a daily roundup of the best coupons on the blog.
Coupons (www.coupons.com) -- A super user friendly site for the most current grocery coupons. You can enter your zip code for area specific deals, then select the coupons you want, and print them out. It's a great alternative to going through the Sunday paper and clipping your own.
CurrentCodes (www.currentcodes.com) -- A veritable clearinghouse for coupons, the site has a full-time staff whose only job is to find coupon and discount codes and verify their accuracy. The site doesn't try to do several things at once--they just focus on creating the best coupon code database on the web.
eCoupons (ecoupons.com) -- One of the largest online coupon websites listing more than five thousand stores and tens of thousands of active coupons and deals. Members can earn cash back when making purchases with participating partner stores.
MyGroceryDeals (mygrocerydeals.com) -- An extensive site that provides a comprehensive listing of the grocery deals in your area. The filter settings in your profile allow you to specify things like food allergies, preferred stores, and dietary considerations, so you'll get a customized list of only the most relevant items for you and your family.
RetailMeNot (www.retailmenot.com) -- A leading consumer destination for online coupons, discounts, and promotional codes for merchandise, travel and services, committed to helping consumers enjoy a hassle-free shopping experience. Members rank coupons based on their reliability
Wise Bread's Best Deals Today (www.wisebread.com/bestdeals) -- The latest deals and coupons aggregated from the top deals sites around the Web. Plus the top 10 picks of the day hand picked by Wise Bread. You can also subscribe receive the daily deals roundup in your email inbox.
Bargainist (www.bargainist.com) -- Deals are handpicked and updated several times a day, this popular site gets on all the "top lists" for good reason.
Ben's Bargains (www.bensbargains.net) -- One of the longest running bargain sites around and still going strong, Ben has a loyal following because of his carefully selected deals, which includes advance notice of upcoming deals and exclusive offers (not to mention fantastic giveaways) for his readers.
Buxr (www.buxr.com) -- Not only do users vote deals up or down, but they get money and prizes for doing what they do best--finding the best deals and telling others about it.
Dealnews (www.dealnews.com) -- Every deal has been verified and the retailers are reputable (they ban any store with a history of poor customer service). Unlike many other deals sites, their site is easy to navigate and use, which is a godsend for any deal hound trying to get in and out quickly so they can catch the deal they want.
Deal Seeking Mom (www.dealseekingmom.com) -- Get real deals for real moms. Tara handpicks the best deals for moms and their families.
FatWallet (www.fatwallet.com) -- They have a dedicated and robust forums community (www.fatwallet.com/forums) of dedicated bargain hunters. Their greatest unique feature is their cash back rewards program for shopping with hundreds of partner stores. Get money back for cashing in on a huge deal? It doesn't get any better than that.
SlickDeals (www.slickdeals.net) -- A popular, if not the most popular, deals site around today. The homepage displays only the hottest deals, but the true action happens in their forums (forums.slickdeals.net), where the community reigns.]
TechBargains (www.techbargains.com) -- An essential stop for any technology purchase, they not only provide deals, coupons, and the latest bargain news, they have a variety of helpful shopping tools.
Check your favorite deal and coupon sites to see if they have a twitter feed. Follow Wise Bread (www.twitter.com/wisebread) to get our daily Wise Buy deal. No Turn On Red offers this handy list of retailers using Twitter (http://www.noturnonred.org/twitter/) to connect with their customers.
CheapTweet (www.cheaptweet.com) -- They scan and gather the best deals, coupons and sales people are tweeting about. Users can rate deals and the number of retweets contribute to whether a deal makes it to their Cheapest Tweets list.
CouponTweet (www.coupontweet.com) -- They scour the world's most popular social networks for special discounts and get special, hard-to-find deals from their partners and friends.
8coupons (www.8coupons.com) -- Get up-to-the minute deals on your phone with free printable and text message coupons that you can redeem by just showing the cashier.
Cellfire (www.cellfire.com) -- Get groceries, shopping, restaurants, and entertainment offers sent direct to your cell phone. With Cellfire, you never have to print, clip, or forget your coupons again.
Coupon Sherpa (www.couponsherpa.com) -- This handy app provides hundreds of in-store coupons for many merchants right to your iPhone or iPod Touch.
MobiQpons (www.mobiqpons.com) -- Get deals sent to your phone, sorted by location!
Yowza (www.getyowza.com) -- Get mobile coupons and exclusive offers from over 10,000 merchants nationwide.
Zavers (www.zavers.com) -- Save a coupon to your account and access via your mobile phone. Have coupon codes texted to you when you save a coupon.
Wise Bread (www.wisebread.com) -- Dedicated to helping readers live large on a small budget, get the best frugal living and shopping tips as well as our Daily Deals list, featuring handpicked deals from all over.
Baby Cheapskate (www.babycheapskate.blogspot.com) -- An essential destination for the busy parent and homemaker. The site has the best baby, kid and maternity bargains available, as well as the weekly circulars for grocery and drug stores.
Bargain Babe (www.bargainbabe.com) -- Julia Scott, an award-winning journalist, doggedly tracks and hunts down deals and gives the best savvy-spending advice.
Centsible Sawyer (www.centsible-sawyer.com) -- Denise wants everyone to score the best deals, and that's why you'll find great shopping tips, grocery and drugstore deals, and plenty of giveaway items and freebies on this fun site.
Common Sense with Money (www.commonsensewithmoney.com) -- Mercedes is a CPA and MBA sharing her passion for saving money by providing frugal living tips, shopping techniques, and the best deals around town.
The Consumerist (www.consumerist.com) -- Aside from being able to keep up to date on all the consumer news and trends, The Consumerists publishes a mouth watering daily deals.
ConsumerQueen (www.consumerqueen.com) -- Melissa is a money saving mom dedicated to helping readers change the way they shop. Check back every day to catch her daily deals.
Frugal Bon Vivant (www.frugal-bonvivant.com) -- Olivia serves up deals, coupons, how-tos and tips on enjoying the good life (the Bon Vivant half) on a budget (the Frugal part).
Smart Spending (www.blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending) -- Aside from being two of the warmest frugal living bloggers you'll ever encounter online, Karen Datko and Donna Freedman lists daily hot deals.