My Two Cents: Where can you find coupons?
Over the years, the question I get asked the most is "Where do you find all your coupons?"
While living in the suburbs of Chicago, we were getting eight - yes, eight - copies of the Sunday Chicago Tribune. I'd like you to know that I had a coupon code and paid $104 total for a yearly subscription, or 25 cents per copy! When my renewal notice would come, I'd pay for as many years at a time that I could.
My husband read the paper and I saved the coupon inserts in hanging files in my plastic file boxes. Sometimes, if I had time, I'd do the Sudoku puzzle or read the travel section, but my main reason for getting so many copies was for the shiny scraps of paper that more than paid for my initial investment.
I'm all about the rate of return, and a newspaper subscription is a fantastic bang for your buck. We would recycle the papers and haul them back to Minnesota so my folks could use them to start their wood stove.
There is nothing like having a dog, five kids, luggage and a box of old newspapers on a 10-hour long trip in a minivan. I was once cool...or at least not a total dork. Not anymore!
While Sunday papers are a great source for coupons, they are by no means the only one. Coupons are everywhere. I mean everywhere. You just have to look and pay attention, and I will be your guide to help you with the hunt. Here are some places to find coupons:
Online - The site I usually use for finding online coupons is www.coupons.com. The coupons on this site change all the time so you never know what you will find.
There are a few secrets to online coupons. Check the site at the beginning of the month. Each coupon has a set number of times that a company will allow it to be printed. First come, first serve.
Most people don't know that you can usually print each coupon out twice. I'm not talking about photocopying. That is illegal. If you are caught, it's super serious. Unless you want to go to jail, don't do it.
Target also has store coupons that you can print out from their site, www.target.com, to use in addition to manufacturer coupons. The official term of using a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon is "stacking."
Walmart also has coupons on their website that you can print out. Type the word "coupon" into the search bar and they will pop up!
Also, most major companies offer coupons and/or an e-mail club that you can join on their site. For being in these "clubs," we've gotten free dinners on birthdays, free appetizers, free desserts, free custom blend perfumes and coupons for kids to eat free.
I feel a little bad when I cash in one of those, considering we have four little kids, but we still tip on the total amount before the coupon was taken off.
Text Clubs - While dining out with my husband for his birthday, I saw a sign that said if you texted a word to a certain cell number, you would be enrolled in their text club. So I did, and in a matter of seconds we had a coupon texted to us for a free dessert!
I've joined other business text clubs and gotten special alerts, codes for free video rentals, coupon codes and advance notices of sales! If you are paying for a texting plan, use it!
"Peelies" - these are coupons right on the package of the item you are buying. It takes two seconds to peel the coupon off and hand it to the cashier. Last week I was shopping in Wadena and picked up some tortillas.
On the package of tortillas was a coupon for 50 cents off taco seasoning. Since the taco seasoning packet was 68 cents - and something I needed anyway - I ended up paying $2.16 for a pack of tortillas and a seasoning packet instead of $2.66. I know it's not a lot, but over time little savings like this add up.
Mail - Check your mail! Sometimes really valuable coupons show up right in your mailbox. In January, I got a coupon for a free jar of bread yeast with a value of up to $6.99. I'm trying to make bread from scratch as often as I can, so I was excited.
I know, it doesn't take much! I have no idea how my name ended up on their list, and I don't care, because I have a new free jar of yeast in my freezer.
Inside of packages - This is a rare, but fun, treat to find. Just take a second to check the next time you open something up. Companies are all about building customer loyalty, which leads me to my next trick.
If there is a product or company that you love, write them a letter or send them an email and let them know! After the boys, our second set of twins, were born, I had a lot of time on my hands. Somehow I managed to write to a bunch of different baby product companies that I like, as well as send letters to the companies that make snacks and juices that our girls like. Every single one wrote back and sent coupons. Guess what? They have a very loyal customer now.
Another spot to look for coupons is on the back of a receipt. I know that just a few of the coupons I've gotten off the back of my receipts from the grocery store here in Wadena include money off my favorite pizza buffet place in town, 5 cents off a gallon of gas, a free upgrade at a new burger place in Verndale, half price garlic cheesy bread with the purchase of a family size pizza at a take-and-bake pizza place and buy-one-get-one-free original chicken sandwich or breakfast croissant at a fast food joint. All of these coupons were on one receipt!
The front of the receipt. Sometimes the small print on the bottom of a receipt is actually something worth reading!
Facebook - You can "like" stores or companies on Facebook and get special coupons, samples or other offers. You can always unlike them if you want to clean up your news feed.
Wheeler Dealer! - This is a Wadena area specific thing that is awesome! You can buy gift certificates or merchandise on Wednesday morning from the radio station (105.9 FM) starting at 10 a.m. The preview of items available start at 9:50 a.m. At 10 a.m. the phone lines open up and you can call in. I usually keep a list of what I'm interested in and cross deals off when they are sold. Plus, it's a little scary when you actually do get through!
In my upcoming columns, I will be talking about saving money on groceries, dining out, banking, cooking, shopping online, entertainment, travel, refunds/rebates, entertaining, fitness, inexpensive date nights and whatever else I can think of. If you have any ideas or tips, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!