10 Tips | By Laura T. Coffey, Times Correspondent

10 Tips: Click, clip and save with coupons

Many frugal money managers out there have been clipping coupons for decades. These days, though, there are so many new and different ways to save money with coupons — and in economic times like these, why not take advantage of them? "There's almost always a coupon out there," said Barry Boone, owner and founder of CurrentCodes.com and DealHunting.com, Web sites that direct shoppers to timely bargains and discount codes. "If you don't use one, you're not saving as much money as you could." Consider these tips for keeping more of your hard-earned money in your wallet:

1For starters, check your newspaper. Yes, there are plenty of new-fangled ways to access coupons and discount codes, but that doesn't mean it's a waste of time to peruse those nice, old-fashioned coupons in your daily paper. It doesn't take too terribly long to find coupons you can use.

2If you don't feel like clipping, enlist some child labor. Here's a deal you can make with your kid: If he or she finds coupons for items you buy as a family and clips enough of them that you manage to save $10 on groceries, you can promise to share $5 of that savings with your child.

3As you shop online, stay alert for discount opportunities. When making purchases, remain on the lookout for areas where you can enter a "promotional code," "discount code" or "coupon." If you spot such an option, that means a code almost certainly exists that can help you save on the purchase you're about to make.

4Check reputable coupon-code sites. To find a coupon code, you can simply do a quick Internet search for the name of the retailer and the same catch phrase you saw on that retailer's site. That can lead to frustration in many cases, though, because you're likely to stumble upon codes that have expired. Codes are regularly verified and updated on CurrentCodes.com and DealHunting.com. Other sites that are worth checking include FatWallet.com, CouponChief.com, CouponMountain.com, Rather-Be-Shopping.com, RetailMeNot.com and SlickDeals.com.

5Seek out free shipping. The best coupons in the world may not be able to offset onerous shipping charges. The sites mentioned in Tip No. 4 can direct you to free shipping deals in some cases, and so can FreeShipping.com, a site that features more than 1,000 online retailers that offer shipping at no charge.

6Register with your favorite retailers — but check the privacy policy first. Another way to nab coupons that you'll be likely to use is to become a returning customer on specific retailers' Web sites. This typically involves sharing your personal information, and then coupons and shipping deals will be e-mailed directly to you. Before signing up, though, check each retailer's privacy policy first so you can see how your information will be used. Will it be sold to third parties? Will your spending habits be tracked and shared with third parties? If so, can you opt out?

7Remember to check clearance and sale sections. Visit the Web sites of your favorite retailers and look for online-only sales. Click on any link that says "sale," "new markdowns" or "final clearance." It's not uncommon to spot items that used to cost $100 or more lurking in final clearance sections for $19.99 or even $9.99.

8Examine that final checkout screen carefully. Especially if you're using a coupon code, be sure the discount has been applied correctly before buying.

9Look for coupon codes in unexpected places. All sorts of coupon codes may be arriving in your postal mailbox on a regular basis. You can find them in the catalogs you receive, as well as in your credit-card statements.

10Seek out coupons for out-of-the-ordinary purchases. A number of coupon-code sites are offering discounts for tax services and software, car rentals, auction purchases and others that at first blush may not seem eligible for coupon codes. Open your mind to the possibilities and look for discounts on everything!

Laura T. Coffey can be reached at laura@ tentips.org.

Sources: Barry Boone of CurrentCodes.com (www.currentcodes.com); Susan Beacham of Money Savvy Generation (www.msgen.com)

10 Tips: Click, clip and save with coupons 03/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:43pm]

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