Clipping coupons from your local papers is time-consuming. My time is valuable, and I figure the cost of any “free labor” I’m performing against my savings when I consider my best strategies. But there’s a much better way to grab coupons quickly: get printable coupons online.
Advantages of printable coupons
Most coupon websites are designed to be browsed in much the same way you browse through a newspaper. But you can also search specifically for those shops or products you want. This takes less time than going through newspapers. It also cuts down on “deal temptation” – when you see great deals on things you really don’t even need. Browsing these sites is also generally easier and quicker than browsing through printed material, since you can just scroll through lots of offers at once.
Many of these sites also have the ability to let you click several coupons to print, and they will automatically fit them onto as few sheets of paper as possible. In some cases, you have to download a small free application to do this.
Clipping coupons from periodicals costs: the price of the periodical plus your time. Printable coupons cost you: paper, a little bit of ink (use the most economic setting on your printer) and some wear and tear on your printer. In my opinion, my savings are much better with online coupons. Another savings trick: use the backs of pages you’ve printed on before. As long as the coupon is visible, the store can’t refuse to accept it because part of an article you printed about turtles is on the backside.
Most printable coupons are good for online or in-store purchases.
For those of you with smartphones, more and more stores are offering coupons through their apps which you may not even need to print. Michael’s, for example, can scan a coupon bar code right off your phone. If you don’t want to download apps for every store you shop at (I know I don’t!), you can often get the coupons in email and have the store scan the barcode from the email on your phone or tablet. This isn’t perfectly reliable yet, though – many stores can’t scan from a phone, or insist on having a printed coupon. You have to learn how your individual stores operate. But this is probably the wave of the future.
You’ll want to find more than one site to check, since they all have different offers. Don’t make a part-time job out of it, but tracking 3-5 sites doesn’t take much time, and will maximize your savings. (If you’re looking for a printer that makes print jobs like this super cheap, check out the Epson Eco-Tank line. Best printer I’ve ever had, and not just because the ink is so cheap. It never jams, it’s never offline – it just prints when I need it to print, and the print jobs always look great, even in econo-mode.)
- Coupons.com has a great selection of coupons. You can browse or search through categories and even specific stores.
- Coupon Cabin makes it really easy to find the coupons you want. You can browse several categories, like grocery, or top deals, or local deals (input your zip code). You can also look up specific stores to see what they have on offer.
- Mommy Saves Big has just the sort of layout I was talking about earlier. It’s geared to let you search for just those coupons you really want, or browse to get ideas. When you browse, your gaze naturally drifts over the list, ignoring stores you don’t shop at, and focusing on those you do buy from. At no time does it ever try to get you to log in or start an account (some of the others do).
- RedPlum, the online version of the circulars, has a very nice setup – you can print several coupons to a page without getting a free account or downloading anything. I find they have a few really good offers most of the time.
- CouponDivas has many of the same vendors as Coupon Cabin, but here you don’t have to download anything to print several coupons to a page.
Those are the sites I personally use and find most helpful. There are others that I find more difficult to use, or that don’t have as impressive offers as these, but feel free to search out others on your own. Let me know if you find any great ones!