How to Coupon

Tips for Using Online Coupons

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 at 8:14 pm
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Online CouponWant to get the most out of your online coupons? There are many things that you can do to become more efficient about using digital coupons. Make a habit of using these simple tips, and your couponing will be faster, easier, and more money saving.

Visit store websites
Did you know that many stores have digital coupons that are available on their website? Make sure to check out the store’s website before you go shopping. Target, Walmart, and almost every grocery store offers coupons to customers. Some of these coupons can be printed out, while others will be added to your store loyalty card automatically.

Get the loyalty card
Is there a grocery store that you frequently shop at? Sign up for their loyalty card. They will give you one for free. Once you have the loyalty card, you will automatically get access to lower prices on products all across the store. In addition, you can add coupons to the loyalty card through the store’s website.

Match coupons with sales
The best time to use a coupon is when you can match it with a sale or a store special. You could end up with a bigger discount than you would have gotten without the coupon. Make sure to read the fine print on the coupon before you shop. Find out if the coupon is one that you are allowed to use on sale items. We’ve done all that work for you already! Visit our Coupon Matchups page and choose your favorite store.

Consider a credit card
Some clothing stores will mail coupons to people who have the store’s credit card. Victoria’s Secret sends a few coupons every month (that expire by the end of the month). Use those coupons on sale items, and you will save a lot of money. They also send out a special coupon that can be used during the month of the customer’s birthday. This is just one example of a way to get more coupons from a store you frequently shop at.

There is something to keep in mind about using credit cards. Don’t spend more money than you can pay off on your next bill. Keep the balance at zero, and you can avoid paying a finance charge. The coupons you get for having the credit card won’t help if the finance charge is higher than the amount the coupons saved you.

Find a favorite coupon website
Some people spend a lot of time looking at dozens of coupon blogs. You can save time if you pick a favorite coupon blog and just look at that one. Choose one that offers printable coupons directly through their website. Print out the coupons you are planning to use right before you go shopping.

 

 

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What to Buy at Fall Festivals

Posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2015 at 6:11 pm
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Painted Pumpkin iStock resizedThe fall festivals are starting! These community festivals are fun to visit with your family. It is a good idea to watch how much you are spending so you don’t go over your budget. You can save money if you limit your purchases to things that are fall related and that might be more expensive to buy somewhere else.

Pumpkins
Pumpkins are the most popular item to use as a fall decoration. If your local fall festival sells them, it may be a good idea to buy some. Before you attend the fest, figure out how many pumpkins you actually need.

Buy the pumpkins right before you leave the festival so you won’t have to carry them around with you. Or, select a few small pumpkins and put them in a bag to make them easier to carry.

Not interested in carving pumpkins this year? There might be a vendor at the fall festival that is selling painted pumpkins. All you have to do is select where to put it, and your decorating is done!

Kettle Corn
The sweet and salty kettle corn that you can buy from a festival is always going to be better than the pre-packaged kind. The warm popcorn will smell good and be nice to carry around on a cool autumn day. Kettle corn is typically inexpensive and comes in large bags. Share it with your family!

Fall Decorations
The best time to buy unique, handmade, fall decorations is during the fall festivals. Vendors who create decorative holiday items will be selling them. The price might be a bit higher than the decorations you can find in stores. The extra cost might be worth it because you will be getting a one of a kind item.

What kinds of decorations should you look for? Select ones that can be used again next year. Handmade scarecrows, fall wreaths, and plastic painted pumpkins are good choices. If you aren’t concerned about reusable decorations, buy a carved gourd or pumpkin. Flowers in fall colors can make a nice (yet temporary) decoration.

Food From Non-Profits
Getting hungry? Food that is sold at festivals is generally pricey. There’s no getting around the cost, so you may as well use your money responsibly. Look for a food vendor that is being run by a non-profit organization. Your money can help someone!

Look for vendors that are band students who are raising money for upcoming competitions. Religious organizations are another option. Schools that are raising money to upgrade their computers, or buy new textbooks, or to purchase supplies for students in need are also a great place to give your money to.

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Tricks Stores Use to Make You Spend More

Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Buy Organic Store Brands to Save BigYou went shopping because you had some coupons, or because the store was having a sale. After you were all finished shopping you realized that you ended up spending much more than you intended to. How does that happen? There are some tricks that stores use that can cause people to spend more money than they planned on spending.

Really Large Shopping Carts
For whatever reason, people have a tendency to want to fill up their shopping cart while they are buying groceries. Stores that give shoppers really large shopping carts know that this can make a customer unintentionally spend more money than she planned.

Visually, it looks like the same amount of groceries as when you shopped at a different store that had smaller carts. In reality, you’ve got a lot more products in that cart than you realized. The way to avoid this trick is to use a basket instead of a cart (or to resist the urge to fill up a shopping cart).

Christmas Music
Have you ever wondered why so many stores play Christmas music through their speakers? The reason has to do with nostalgia. The Christmas music makes people happy and reminds them of their childhood. People who enjoy the music they are hearing in a store are likely to stick around for longer than they planned. Naturally, while you are in the store, you just might find more things that you want to buy.

Real Simple notes that some stores include “soundscapes” which have things like sounds of soda fizzing or a steak sizzling hiding in the music. Suddenly, you have the urge to have steak for dinner and a desire for the pack of soda that is on display. One way to avoid this trick is put in your earbuds and listen to music you selected for yourself while you shop.

Free Samples
How could a free sample make someone spend more money? This trick is one that works slowly. You stop for a free sample of sausage, or tea, or whatever is being handed out. Let’s say that you liked it. Your stomach wants more than that little tidbit, and your metabolism might think it is dinner time.

People who are hungry tend to spend more on groceries than people who are full. Everything looks good when you are starving! That free sample influences shoppers to spend more than they planned. It also makes at least some of them buy the food that they got a free sample of – even though they had no intentions of buying it when they walked in.

There are two things you can do to avoid this trick. First, don’t go shopping while you are hungry. Eat lunch, or dinner, first. Second, do not accept the free sample.

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Ways to Save on School Lunches

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Sack lunch, peanut butter and jelly, lunch, foodThe start of a new school year means that people need to get back into the habit of packing school lunches. What you choose to include, and how you put it into the lunch box, really makes a difference. Here are a few ideas that will help your family save money on school lunches.

Plan Around What is On Sale
You can save some money if you pay attention to what is on sale at the grocery store. It helps if you aren’t particularly brand loyal. Compare the big package of individual bags of chips from one brand with a similar one from another brand. One is bound to be less expensive than the other.

This plan also works if you intend to include crackers or cookies in your child’s lunch. Pick the brand that is on sale. Or, choose the one that you have a coupon for. Look for the store brand and compare the price to the big name brands.

Stock Up When Items are On Sale
How many pre-packaged snacks do your kids go through in a week’s worth of school lunches? It might cost less in the long run if you stock up on their favorite snacks while they are on sale. These kinds of snacks don’t tend to expire quickly. Spend the money now, while the product is on sale. Use them up before buying more.

Variety is Important
While some kids prefer to have the exact same kind of lunch every single school day, there are other kids who get bored with food that they have eaten too often. When this happens, kids often choose not to eat the food they have grown tired of. They may be throwing it out instead of eating it. That’s a waste of food and money.

To prevent food boredom, parents should change things up. Offer baby carrots one day, then switch them for cut celery sticks or cherry tomatoes. Applesauce might be more appealing than a huge apple. Grapes are bite sized and easy to eat. Make a regular sandwich one day, and substitute the bread for a tortilla the next day.

Prepare Ahead to Save Time
Want to cut down on the before-school-chaos? Prepare snacks for lunches ahead of time. Divide up a package of cookies or crackers into individual portions. Put each portion into a resealable plastic bag.

Cut up some fresh vegetables the night before, and store them in the refrigerator in individual airtight containers. Make everything as “grab and go” as possible. Your kids might be able to quickly choose their own snacks and put it into the lunchbox themselves.

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Money Saving Tips for College Students

Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am
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piggy bank, woman saving moneyCollege students are faced with a bunch of expenses that they haven’t had to deal with back when they were in high school. Classes and textbooks are costly. It costs money to buy groceries, pay rent, and do laundry. Here are some tips to help college students to cut their expenses and start saving money.

Live at Home
It might not be the most fun option, but continuing to live at home with your parents has some benefits. You might not be asked to pay rent, or to chip in for groceries.

Meals are probably going to be free. You can do your laundry without having to gather up a bunch of quarters to feed the machines at the laundromat. Living at home with your parents gives you the opportunity to save some money.

Stop Dining Out
A meal from a fast food place doesn’t cost very much. It can be very tempting to buy a coffee while you are studying. Those little costs add up – and can eat away at your savings.

College students can save money by making their own at home versions of the fast food they crave. It’s time to go online and look for simple recipes. Groceries will last much longer, and make more meals, than that one trip to the fast food restaurant.

Get Insurance Coverage
Students who are under the age of 26 can be covered by their parent’s health insurance plan. You might already be covered under that plan. Check to make sure. Accidents and illnesses are much less expensive to treat if you have health insurance coverage than if you end up in an emergency room while uninsured.

Some colleges will require students who are uninsured to purchase a health plan through their school. It might be less expensive than buying a private plan. In November, the health insurance marketplaces open. Make sure to take a look at it to see if there is a better, less expensive, health insurance plan available to you.

Car Pool
Driving back and forth to school can cause you to burn through a lot of gas. One way to cut your costs is to connect with a group of friends and start car pooling. Share the cost by having different people drive on different days. Everyone can chip in for gas money.

Another option is to use public transportation. Many large universities have their own busses that drive all across campus (and sometimes into the nearest town). Students might be able to ride for free, or at a discounted rate. Regular busses may also offer discounts to students. Bring your school ID with you.

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Free Kids Events in September

Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2015 at 4:35 pm
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Crayola CrayonsThe new school year has either started or will start very soon. Your kids, and your family, will be busy! Eventually, there will be some down time to fill with something fun for your kids to do. There are plenty of free kids events that will be happening in September. Which ones will your kids enjoy the most?

LEGO Stores
LEGO stores offer a free monthly mini model build for kids who are between the ages of 6 and 14. Registration is required.

September 2, 2015: LEGO Diver – Kids will put together a mini model of a diver.

Pottery Barn Kids
Pottery Barn Kids offers two types of free kids events each month. One is a story time, which may or may not include a holiday celebration. The other is a unique special event.

September 1, 2015: Grandparent’s Day Story Time – Kids will hear stories that are about children and their grandparents. Kids who become a book club member receive a special gift after attending five story times.

September 19, 2015: Halloween Fashion Show – Families are invited to view a fashion show that features the most anticipated costume collection for kids. This could inspire your kids to decide what they want to be on Halloween. There will be snacks and drinks. There will also be pumpkin decorating.

Home Depot
Home Depot offers free building workshops for kids who are between the ages of 5 and 12. Kids receive a Workshop Apron, a commemorative pin, and a certificate of achievement. They also get to keep the project they build.

September 5, 2015: Football Toss Game – Kids will put together a small football toss game.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow offers free building events for kids. Each kid will receive a free apron, goggles, and a patch. They also get to keep the wooden project they build.

August 22, 2015: Thor’s Chariot – Kids will put together Thor’s Chariot. This is the last project in their “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” set.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free craft events for kids who are ages 3 and older.

September 5, 2015: My Desk Nameplate Easel – Kids will build an easel out of craft sticks that they can decorate. The easel will hold a nameplate.

September 12, 2015: What a Hoot! Owl – Kids will decorate and create a paper bag puppet owl.

September 19, 2015: Great Catch! Game – Kids will decorate and put together a catch game that involves a cup and a bead on a string.

September 26, 2015:
Welcome Autumn! Crown – Kids will decorate an Autumn inspired headband with flowers and leaves in Fall colors.

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Why Coupons are Going Mobile

Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 at 6:09 pm
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Android Smart PhoneBack in the day, the best source of coupons was the inserts in the Sunday papers. While that resource is still a good one today, there are also plenty of other places to find coupons. You may have noticed that coupons are starting to go mobile. Have you ever wondered why that is?

You can find coupons on apps that are specifically connected to a particular store, cafe, or fast food place. Target has Cartwheel, which gives consumers digital coupons on items sold in their stores. Starbucks has been offering discounts and freebies to consumers who use their app for a very long time.

It is super easy to use the digital coupons that are offered in store specific apps. Show that digital coupon to the cashier, and have him or her scan your phone. It’s easy for consumers to use and also provides some benefits to the companies that offer the digital coupons.

Millennials Use Phones
Those who are part of the Millennial generation use their smartphones more frequently than they do laptops or desktop computers. Companies that want to reach out to Millennial customers need to go mobile in order to interact with them. Offering coupons through smartphone apps could convince a new, young, consumer to go into a particular store. They might decide to shop there again.

Prevents Fraud
Have you ever received an email from a fast food place that included a printable coupon? That coupon is only for you. The fast food place is offering that specific coupon only to people who joined their mailing list.

Technically, you are not supposed to print out that coupon and give it to your sister or best friend to use (without you). There are people who make copies of paper coupons so that they can try and use them more than once, or because they want to sell those copies online. These action are examples of coupon fraud.

It is impossible for a person to copy a digital coupon that is connected to an individual via an app. Companies are moving to mobile coupons, in part, because it decreases the chance that their coupons will be used fraudulently.

Going Green
Many companies are moving toward a “paperless office”. They are making an effort to reduce the amount of paper that is used by their employees every day. Another way to “go green” and reduce paper use is by issuing digital coupons that are sent to consumers on their smartphones.

The company doesn’t have to pay for the cost of printing the coupons. The consumer doesn’t have to use up some paper in order to print the coupon. This system is much greener than clipping coupons from the inserts in the Sunday newspapers.

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Groupon To Go Delivers

Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2015 at 7:14 pm
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Android Smart PhoneYou’ve probably heard of Groupon. It’s where people go to check on daily deals for things that are local to them. Groupon To Go is going to include a restaurant discount and delivery at the same time.

Groupon To Go offers consumers delivery and takeout and gives them a discount of 10% or more off the price. (They also advise people to check with the restaurant they are interested in about the discount – as some exclusions apply).

Right now, Groupon To Go is being offered as a pilot program in Chicago, Illinois. The company plans to expand the program to other cities in the future. Put your address into the Groupon To Go website to see if it is available where you live.

TNW News suggests that Groupon To Go was created to combat the bad reputation that Groupon may have gotten because it offers daily deals. Some customers who use daily deal type offers at restaurants refuse to leave a tip – or leave a discounted tip. It’s not very fair to servers whose income includes tips.

In addition, not all restaurants who participate in a daily deal are thrilled when customers take advantage of that deal and visit the restaurant. At first, it was believed that people who used a daily deal to check out a restaurant that was new to them would decide to return to the restaurant (and pay full price) in the future.

Instead, what often happens is that people come in to use the daily deal discount and never return. The restaurant gets a bunch of customers from the daily deal, who spend less money than typical on that day, and who disappear after that.

Some people may feel embarrassed to be seen using a coupon at a fast food place or restaurant. Not all frugal people want to let the world know that they are using a discount. Groupon To Go solves this issue as well.

Groupon To Go offers discounts on food orders – for carry out or delivery. It isn’t designed to be used by people who want to come into the restaurant, sit down, and be served. The Groupon To Go app will show consumers deals that are from restaurants and fast food places that are nearby. It shows the deal, how far away the restaurant is, and whether or not there is a delivery fee.

As a result, people who want to avoid “coupon shame” can place an order to go and show the cashier their Groupon To Go app. Those who want to place a delivery can use the daily discount they found on Groupon To Go from the privacy of their own homes.

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CIC Can Help You Spot Fake Coupons

Posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Online CouponIs the awesome coupon that you saw on Facebook too good to be true? Have you ever visited a random website and found a questionable advertisement about coupons? It can be difficult to sort out the valid coupons from the scams. The CIC can help you spot fake coupons.

What is the CIC?
CIC stands for Coupon Information Center. It is a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers who are dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud. The CIC has worked with Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials on coupon fraud cases since 1986.

Counterfeit Coupons
The CIC informs consumers about the counterfeit coupons that are being circulated. There is a section on their main page that says “Counterfeit Coupon Alert”. It will show two of the most recently reported fraudulent coupons (with links that will give you more information about them). Next time you see a questionable coupon on Facebook, or somewhere else, visit the CIC website and check to see if it has been reported.

The CIC is On Twitter
Do you use Twitter? Follow @CIC_HQ. It is the Twitter account of the Coupon Information Institute. They post tweets with information about the counterfeit coupons as they become aware of them. In addition, they also tweet links to articles about situations where coupon fraud has occurred. The information they post can help you to avoid fake coupons.

Report Coupon Fraud
Are you a victim of coupon counterfeits? The CIC has information about how to file a complaint with the United States Postal Service. The CIC points out what kind of information you need to have in order to report mail crime. Make sure to keep all original documents, including emails, that are related to your complaint.

Considerate Couponing
The CIC has put together a helpful list called “Considerate Couponing”. It lets consumers know what the best practices are for using coupons. It starts with the basics, which can be very helpful for people who are brand new to couponing.

The list points out some practices that are prohibited. It is illegal to buy or sell coupons. It is also against the law to photocopy coupons. People who steal newspapers, in order to get extra coupons, are breaking the law.

What about “dumpster diving”? Some people choose to dig around in dumpsters in the hopes of finding newspaper inserts that contain coupons. This practice is controversial. The CIC points out that if the dumpster is located on private property, a person could be arrested for trespassing.

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Tips to Save Money on School Supplies

Posted on Thursday, August 6th, 2015 at 5:59 pm
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Globe, notebook stack and pencils. Schoolchild and student studiThe new school year will start at the end of August or in early September, depending on where you live. Is your budget ready for all the back to school shopping? It can get costly, especially for families that have more than one child. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to save money on school supplies.

Reuse Last Year’s Supplies
Before you start shopping, take a look and see what school supplies you already have at home. Your kids may be able to reuse some of the school supplies that you purchased last year.

Rulers, whether wooden or plastic, will hold up for more than one school year. Plastic pencil holders are durable enough to last multiple school years. Gather up all the pencils and pens that came home with your child at the end of the previous school year.

Your child’s lunch box (or lunch bag) might be in good enough shape to use again. Check your child’s backpack carefully. If you don’t see any fraying at the shoulders, and there are no holes in the bottom, it can be reused.

Buy Two Pairs of Shoes
It might sound counterintuitive to buy an extra pair of gym shoes for your child right at the start of the school year. One pair would cost less than two pairs after all. Keep in mind that your kids are still growing. Many parents find that their child has outgrown his or her gym shoes about halfway through the school year.

Buying two pairs of shoes now, while they are on sale, saves you the expense of having to buy another pair a few months from now at full price. Buy one pair that fits your child’s feet today. Buy one more pair the next size up.

Buy One Get One Free
Your child’s school supply list might say that they need only one package of certain items. Eventually, that package of paper, the pack of pencils, and the glue sticks, will run out. Consider purchasing consumable school supplies from stores that have a “BOGO” on them. Buy one for your kid to take to school. Get a free one for your kid to take to school after that first one runs out.

Shop Year Round for School Supplies
One way to save money on the pile of school supplies your child needs at the start of the school year is to stock up on them year round. Take advantage of sales on pens, pencils, and paper that you see during the school year. Start a stock pile of school supplies that you got on sale. Next year, pull from that stock pile and make your back to school shopping less expensive.

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