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For decades, coupons have helped shoppers save money on groceries and household items. But the number of ways to find them has grown in recent years.
Now, discounts are available almost everywhere, including inboxes, websites and smartphone apps. Here’s how to get coupons, in both paper and digital form.
1. Shop at stores with rewards programs
Enroll in rewards programs or sign up for the mailing list for the retailers you frequent most. Many stores send returning customers exclusive coupons or apply discounts automatically during checkout.
“Those are savings that you’re going to get without doing a thing except for swiping your card,” says Cindy Livesey, frugal-living expert from coupon website Living Rich With Coupons. Livesey says coupons have saved her family about $11,000 a year, on average, on groceries.
Be prepared: Retailers may flood your inbox with messages or use your information, such as demographics and shopping habits, for marketing purposes. Depending on your email service, you may be able to divert messages into a separate inbox to manage the volume. Also, check the retailer website for a “do not sell my information” link, and also customize the internet cookies you accept.
2. Install a browser extension
When shopping online, use a browser extension to track down discounts on your behalf.
3. Ask for manufacturer coupons
If you favor certain brands, contact the companies directly. They’ll often send manufacturer coupons or samples when you provide feedback (or simply request them). As a plus, you can use a manufacturer's coupon at any store that sells the featured product, barring exclusions.
Look for a “contact us” link on the company’s website. This should direct you to an email form, live chat feature, customer service phone number or mailing address. Another option? Leave a comment on the brand’s social media page.
4. Search a coupon database or app
Coupon databases are websites that compile printable and digital coupons, including rebates. You can use them to search deals by brand, product or store and save time. Search “coupon database” on Google to get started. For on-the-go savings, try a free coupon app.
5. Visit retailer websites and apps
If you plan to purchase an item, check retailer websites first. Most major merchants have a weekly ad, coupon or offers section online. Or you might see a limited-time discount code on the homepage or a banner ad.
Livesey recommends downloading apps for the stores you shop at regularly. Some, like TargetCircle, have features that make it easy to find store and manufacturer coupons in one place.
6. Check the Sunday newspaper
While you’re catching up on current events, look for coupon inserts in your local or national newspaper. These often feature coupons for food as well as personal care items. The Sunday edition usually contains $50 to $300 worth of savings, Livesey says. Typically, larger or more expensive publications will have bigger inserts with higher-value coupons, she says.
Before you pay extra for a subscription, make sure it’s worthwhile. You might be able to get access to newspapers through friends, businesses and other sources free of charge. Free papers often have coupons, too.
6. Pick up weekly ads at the store
Watch for weekly circulars on display near the front doors or registers. These might include store-specific offers that you can redeem immediately or during a future shopping trip.
8. Look at the product packaging
Some discounts hide in plain sight at the grocery store. Inspect items, like meat and cereal, for a peel-off coupon attached to the box or packaging. You could get instant savings.
9. Browse store aisles
Don’t see a voucher on the product itself? Check shelves and other locations in the store.
“Usually when they have a new product coming out, they’ll put a display with a tearpad on there enticing you to get that product,” Livesey says. Don’t let a good deal tempt you to buy something unnecessarily, though.
10. Check your receipts
Take a close look at your receipt after every transaction. Some stores print coupons on the back. The cashier might also hand over a few extra slips of paper printed from a machine next to the register. These offers, known as Catalina coupons, are usually based on shopping habits. For example, if you buy a toothbrush, you may receive a voucher for toothpaste.
11. Use social media
Follow social media accounts for stores, brands and products you like. Many share coupon codes on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
No matter where you find coupons, be sure to read the fine print and familiarize yourself with store policies.