We're all looking for ways to trim our spending, and online coupons are a great solution. These coupons aren't just for grocery and personal-care items. You can ï¬�nd them for clothing, baby needs, health-care supplies, books and entertainment.
Here's how they work.
• The savings add up.
You may think it's not worth your time to redeem coupons, especially when the value may be small – for example, $10 off a BabyBjörn carrier at Babies "R" Us. However, they can add up to signiï¬�cant savings over a year.
Emma Leung of Montreal, who shops for herself, her husband and their two kids, saves about $70 a month with coupons. Brooke Ladyman of Winnipeg, who shops for herself, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's son, saves an astounding $200 a month with online coupons – or $2,400 a year. "I can put that money toward a retirement account, or if I want to save extra for a vacation or a big car repair," says Brooke.
• It doesn't take a big time investment.
Emma ï¬�nds all the new coupons she needs by surï¬�ng Save.ca, MySavings.com and RedFlagDeals.com. She also spends 15 minutes twice a week checking the newspaper and magazines. Most sites organize their coupons by category, so they're easy to search. Many, including SmartCanucks.ca and RedFlagDeals.com, post new coupons every day.
Tip: If you're surfing an international coupon site, such as MySavings.com, make sure you register and look in the Canadian section, because you won't be able to redeem coupons from other countries.
• People have different strategies when it comes to coupons.
Emma will occasionally collect high-value coupons for things she doesn't use, especially if they're already on sale. Then she will give the items to family as gifts. Brooke only collects coupons for items that she would normally shop for. Jennifer Temple of Orillia, Ont., collects as many coupons as she can, then trades the ones she doesn't want with other users on the SmartCanucks.ca forums.
Page 1 of 2 - Read page 2 to find out what to do when a store won't take your coupon
• Trading coupons.
If you want to use a site's forums where you can exchange information with other users and trade coupons, you can register for free. Jennifer says that forum participants may be hesitant to trade with a new member because "they don't know if [the new person] is going to hold up her end of the deal."
Tip: By participating in the forums and offering to send your coupons ï¬�rst, you can start to build trust.
• Redeeming online coupons.
Check the expiry date so you don't miss the deadline. Be aware that the coupon may pertain to a particular size or product in a line. Also, not all stores will take the coupons. Even when retailers do, everyone interviewed for this article found that some cashiers tried to reject the Internet coupons.
Tip: Jennifer suggests taking along a copy of the store policy and showing it to the cashier or speaking with the manager. She also tends to print the coupons in colour because she says that stores more readily accept them. However, this can be costly and drain your printer's ink. Instead, Brooke opts to print in black and white, but buys heavier card stock from a craft store.
Savings are a click away
Here are a few coupon sites with links to hundreds of coupons.
Save on: baby and maternity items, cleaning supplies, games and toys, entertainment, garden supplies, recreation and more. Features: printable coupons and e-coupons; forums with information and coupon trading.
Save on: automotive goods, clothing, entertainment, ï¬�nancial services, eco-friendly items, sports, student needs and more. Features: printable coupons and e-coupons; forums with information and coupon trading.
Save on: groceries, personal-care items, and pet and cleaning supplies. Features: register and provide your mailing address and the site will mail you the coupons you select.
Save on: groceries, baby and kids' items, restaurants, health-care products, pet supplies and more. Features: printable coupons and e-coupons; forums with coupon trading and information; trader ratings for users (similar to EBay).
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