I check for new printable coupons every morning and print the ones I plan on using. OK, not every morning, but most of them. I go to 4 sites plus my email, and usually print anywhere from 5 to 30 a day. If you see something that you use, go ahead and print it. The reason to do it right then is because coupons that are issued by manufacturers have a print limit, which means as soon as enough of them are printed, they will disable the link. If you don’t get the coupon in that time span, you will not get it at all. There is a strategy of only printing them when you have your list together and you are ready to shop, then print and cut them only then, but I have found that doesn’t work for me. I’ve missed out on too many that way. So, my habit is to check daily, print the ones I will need, and file and save them. If they expire before I use them, I throw them out.
As applies to most items you use to prepare – it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Coupons are just one tool that you have in your toolbox to get what you want from life. It just makes more sense to me to have them, and I am one of those people who is not comfortable scrambling at the last minute. Some people work better under pressure, but I work better with a plan.
Here is where I stop each morning (almost … probably just 5 out of 7 days)
Coupons – note about this site – you will see there are two types of coupons, one has a checkbox you can click with a scissors next to it and it says “clip”. When you click on the checkbox, the color will change on the coupon to let you know you have selected it. BE CAREFUL with the ones that do NOT have a checkbox. If you click on those, for example the ones that say “click to save”, they will take you to another site where you will either need to complete a task like signing up, “liking” it on facebook, or purchasing directly from another site to get the discount. I do NOT click on any of those, I only click on the ones with the checkbox.
Redplum – note about this site, it is one of the more frustrating ones. The other sites will gray out or remove a coupon if you have already reached your print limit so that you do not WASTE YOUR TIME clicking ones that will not print and paging through coupons you can’t have. Redplum does not. They leave all the coupons up all the time, so you might spend more time clicking than you will get coupons in return. It’s not that much time, but it just is a little frustrating. Also, they have a “load to card” feature where you can register your shoppers loyalty card and have the coupons loaded directly onto the card. I tried that with Food Lion but I have no idea if it worked or not, because I am rarely at Food Lion. Other options like Ingles and Bi-Lo weren’t there. So, I just stick with the printable coupons.
Coupon Network– note about this site, it contains both the direct links to coupons, and information on the Catalina offers per store per time period. If you are not familiar with Catalinas, they are that extra strip of coupons that prints out at the cash register when you ring out. Only certain stores carry those. The distinction on the site will be that the coupons have a checkbox with “print coupon” and the catalina offers (which are not coupons but explanations of current offers) will say “offer”. I don’t print the offers, but I do look at them, it gives me an extra bit of information when I am planning my shopping.
There are lots and lots and lots of coupon websites out there. And lots that claim to offer free coupons. Here is where you need to be careful. Many of them are just the SAME coupons over and over again – Coupons, Redplum, Coupon Network, and Smartsource. Why go to 9 different places to get the same ones? I keep it simple and go straight to the source and go to these ones only.
What you need to know BEFORE printing your first coupon:
- Create a different email address, one preferably on a free server (yahoo, gmail, etc) that you will use only for coupon stuff. Before too long, the reason for this different email address will be obvious. I can discuss this in great detail but the short answer is, in many cases, to get a coupon, you will have to give your email address. They give you the coupon for FREE not because they are super duper sweet people, but because you are a customer, and they will market to you. You will soon be subject to floods of offers and lots of email. You DO NOT want that confusion with your regular email address. Do this first, trust me, you will be glad you did. Never give out your personal email to any of these sites – only give out your designated coupon/freebie email.
- Beware of offering personal information. Privacy is very important here. If a site asks for your email address, that’s okay. They deserve to be able to market to you in exchange for giving you a free coupon. If they ask for your zip code … not your full address, but your zip code, that’s okay too. The reason is because different coupons are offered in different markets. For example, in our area, we have Publix, Bi-Lo, and Food Lion, but not Shaw’s, Hannaford’s, or Osco. If there is a particular product that is only sold at Shaw’s, they aren’t going to offer that coupon to zip codes that don’t have a Shaw’s. It only makes sense. There are lots of other reasons for wanting zip codes – response rate studies and advertiser coverage … well, I had better shut up about that or I’ll go on forever. I’ve spent 20 years marketing and I can tell you all about the value of zip code data, it is gold to a marketer. Anyway, giving out a zip code is okay, and it will actually benefit you because you will get more coupons for your area instead of just the nationwide ones.
- What NOT to give out – never give out any banking information or credit card information. You will NEVER have to pay for coupons or pay for a coupon service. If you are being asked to pay for something, you are on the wrong link and you’ve made a wrong turn somewhere. Until you learn which sites to trust, follow word of mouth of someone you trust (hopefully this blog!) and be careful when a site asks for your personal information before showing you coupons. That should not happen.
- You should also NOT have to give out your name and address. There is an exception to this. For example, if you want Kellogg’s coupons, and they have a booklet of coupons they mail out, and you are on their website, it is okay to give out your name and address. However, if you are on some other website entirely, and they CLAIM to send Kellogg’s coupons, don’t give out your name and address. Go straight to the source. If you want Pantene coupons, go to the Pantene website. That sort of thing is okay.
- Each of the four major coupon distributors will ask you to download their own printing software. That is okay and it won’t hurt your computer. It is necessary for their security. If they did not have security, then they would not be able to control how many of each coupon is printed, print limits (usually each person is limited to either one or two of each coupon), and they would have a nightmare trying to bill their customers (not you, their customers are the manufacturers of the products). There were problems years ago with people able to counterfeit and alter coupons, which is why the major, reputable sites are much more in control of their coupons. Anyway, the first time you go to the site to download and print coupons, you will need to install their software. From that point on, you will not have to do any downloading, you will just go to their sites and print.
You can also sign up for alerts and sites will email you direct links to printable coupons. Use your designated coupon email for this, because you will definitely be signing up for other offers whether you mean to or not. Most of these are from the product websites directly. Campbell’s, Kelloggs, L’Oreal, just about any product you can think of will have an emailed newsletter and emailed coupons. I’ll try to link to as many as possible but you will find them as you go along. But to start simple, start with the 4 major ones, and you’ll get most of what you need.