For a while in the 1990s and early 2000s, it seemed like coupon culture was dead. But in the last year or so, as the economy tanked, Americans rediscovered their love of frugality, and coupons have come roaring back. A big factor in this coupon renaissance is the growing number of new digital tools. Now, consumers can find out about deals on social networking sites like Twitter and use their mobile phones to scan coupons. Best of all, there is an endless amount of sites devoted to coupons.
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In order to get the best deals, you need to have a good selection of places to search. So we collected our favorite sites that either post great deals, or offer tips on getting the most out of your coupons.
This site is relatively new, but it's already a standout for coupon collectors and even coupon skeptics. The formula is simple. Members get one deal e-mailed to them every day. We're not talking about buying one pair of socks and getting the second pair 66% off. These are deals on activities. Half off one day ski-excursions and trips to the spa. That kind of thing.
Groupon is currently available in 30 cities nationwide. Members are asked to pay up front for the deal, and then can redeem it at any time in the future. There is really only one snag. Each of the deals advertised requires a certain amount of people to sign up for it before it becomes active, otherwise it's cancelled. But the vast majority of deals do go through.
This coupon lady is so crazy, she has to spell it with a K. KrazyCouponLady is the best when it comes to collecting great coupons from all over the web. If you're looking for deals on breakfast foods, medicine and household supplies, this is the place to start.
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RetailMeNot is a safe haven for shopaholics. The site puts out great coupons for big name retail stores like L.L. Bean, Kohls and Victoria's Secret. Although we also found a deal on the site today for Papa John's. I guess this way you can gorge yourself on food and then buy new clothes on the cheap.
This site is particularly good for tech gadgets. Right now, on the main page, there are deals and coupons advertised for iPod speaker systems, Wii accessories and televisions. Dealighted also puts out deals for non-tech stores like JC Penny.
For one day a year, this site is the king of cyberspace. This site organizes the annual Free Shipping Day event, which featured more than 700 big companies. But don't forget about this site for the rest of the year. FreeShipping lets users create customized lists of which stores provide them with coupons.
This site gets bonus points for being shameless with their name. CheapStingyBargains may be the best place on the web to find computer coupons. They also advertise some sweet deals on other electronics like cameras and even smart phones.
CouponMom has a simple and attractive mission statement: help shoppers cut their grocery bills in half. The site advertises free samples and of course, grocery store coupons. But one of the best features on this site is a breakdown of grocery store deals by state.
RedPlum is also great for saving on groceries. Here you can find coupons on essentials like cereal and flu medicine. The site also lets you search for coupons for restaurants by zip code.
We've written a bit about this site before, but it's worth mentioning again. CouponCabin has an incredible variety of offers. According to the site, there are nearly 45,000 coupons and deals currently active. These include deals at clothing and sports stores, and even a coupon for Godiva chocolate.
This site specializes in advertising printable grocery coupons in your local area. If you couldn't find what you were looking for on CouponMom, then be sure to check this site. In 2008, SmartMoney declared this to be one of the 5 best coupon sites on the Web, and even with all the other sites that have popped up since then, SmartSource still deserves to rank high on that list.
Bargainist is a great site for finding discounts on stuff to do with your leisure time. The site promotes coupons and deals on hotels, cruises and movies, as well as retail merchandise. Bargainist makes frugal feel stylish.
With all the buzz around coupon sites, it's not too surprising that big companies like AOL would try to create their own. It may not be quite as comprehensive as SmartSource but Shortcuts provides some great deals on grocery supplies.
When in doubt, stick with the standards. Coupons.com is a great site for finding deals on household goods and gifts. It also has the best domain name in the business.
Organizing Your Coupons
Before you start bookmarking these sites and printing out a fury of coupons, it's important to stay organized. Tipnut.com has several good suggestions for doing this. Get an accordion folder or binder to put your coupons into and arrange them either expiration dates and products. Before you go shopping, make a list of what you plan to buy and then check off which items on that list you have coupons for.
It may sound like a lot of work, but coupons are serious business. Last year, one woman reported saving $15,000 because of coupons. Another woman reported that she was able to cut the grocery bill for her family of five down to just $10 a week.