New technologies changing couponing strategies
By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
Ashford - posted Wed., Nov. 20, 2013
While there’s still a lot of paper-clipping being done by today’s couponers, new technologies are also changing some of the ways they’re finding savings at the checkout.
Today, coupons can be sent to your Smart phone, for example. Or you can register on specialized websites that list coupons with little check boxes next to them; choose the ones you like, and these e-coupons are downloaded to your "loyalty card" account at your favorite stores. When it comes time to check out, the savings from those coupons are automatically deducted.
These are a couple of the tips shared by Angela Chastain at a Basics of Couponing class hosted by the Babcock Library in Ashford on Nov. 8.
Couponing has been in the spotlight for the last couple of years, thanks to TV programs that focus on those who go to extreme lengths to pay little or nothing for groceries and other goods.
While most people aren’t going to devote the time equivalent of a full-time job to couponing, Chastain said, they still can save a lot of money if they’re willing to do some planning and organizing.
One of the best ways to tap into these savings, Chastain said, is to think outside the box… that is, be willing to buy some products from unexpected sources. For example, she buys toilet paper from Staples when it goes on sale.
Chastain said she started using coupons several years ago when she moved to Connecticut from Indiana and was shocked at how much more expensive food and other household goods are here.
"I have three teenage boys and they eat a lot… They’ve been known to go through 12 gallons of milk in a week," she added.
Chastain said she spends an average of five hours a week working on her coupons and still manages to get a lot of stuff for free, "including the computer paper I print my coupons on," she said.
Coupons are incentives for you to buy a company’s product, she said, especially a new one – which most likely be the image printed on a coupon – but most of the time, the coupon will apply to several other products from that brand.
She also noted that companies are trying harder to make sure coupons are used correctly. So, for example, coupons will soon carry a barcode that includes their expiration date.
Chastain talked about the various ways of finding coupons, including buying them online. "Technically, you’re not paying for the coupons, because that would be illegal – what you’re paying for is the time it took to collect them," she said.
Other good sources of printable coupons are a company’s own website and their Facebook page, where those who "like" the page often get first dibs on sales and exclusive coupons.
Chastain talked about the pluses of following coupon bloggers, such as http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com and http://www.ginaskokopelli.com, and suggested sticking with the ones that focus on stores where you shop regularly.
When checking online sites for coupons, such as coupon.com, keep in mind that the website often limits the total number of printouts, she said. "So, if you see something you want, don’t wait – print it right away," she said.
She advised printing online coupons in black and white – don’t waste money on color ink, but do make sure the bar code is printed clearly – and print more than one coupon per page.
It’s important to know a store’s coupon policy, she said, and noted she carries printed copies in her coupon binder, in case there are questions. One thing to keep in mind, she said, is that e-coupons downloaded from sites such as http://www.Cellfire.com and http://www.Savingstar.com to your loyalty card usually cannot be combined with other coupons.
Creating a separate e-mail account for coupon transactions also is a good idea, she said, "because they do sell those lists" of e-mail addresses to other companies.