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January 2009

Online Coupons Provide Savings

The deteriorating economy is prompting rebirth of consumer coupons, following a number of years where coupon use had diminished greatly. While the largest number of consumers continue to get coupons from newspapers, this number is falling and the number who get coupons off the Internet is growing rapidly. Simmons Market Research Bureau says approximately 38.6 million Americans will use online coupons this winter, up 22 percent from winter 2007. Simmons also has found that 47 percent of online coupon printers are between 22 and 44 years of age, and 36 percent of those have children under the age of 18 in their household.

Online coupon offers provide you with opportunity for real savings. If you haven’t used online coupons before, you will want to start by checking the web sites of those companies who manufacture products you use. For example, Kellogg’s recently offered cereal coupons on its website: http://www2.kelloggs.com/general.aspx?id=1423. Proctor and Gamble also offered online coupons on paper towels, laundry soap, toothpaste, etc. at: http://www.pgeverydaysolutions.com/pgeds/en_US/jsp/EDS_Page.jsp?pageID=Year-of-Savings. A number of restaurant chains also offer coupons on their websites.

Other good sources of online coupons are sites such as Coupons.com, RetailMeNot.com, and CoolSavings.com. These sites offer coupons for a number of items, ranging from electronics to toys to food. Major manufacturers have been rapidly shifting coupons from the print media to the Internet because of the relatively low cost of distribution. Also, manufacturers are targeting the more youthful audience—identified by Simmons Market Research as relying more on the Internet than on newspapers.

Coupons.com, for example, markets coupons for more than 900 manufacturers, including General Mills, Kraft Foods, and Pillsbury. According to U.S. Today, this web site offered more than $50 million in coupon savings in November 2008 alone, more than double May’s total.

RetailMeNot.com offers coupon codes that you can use for savings from online merchants. Its website, http://www.retailmenot.com/tutorial.php, offers instructions on how this can be done. For example, a number of coupons were offered for Kohl’s Department Stores, Papa John’s pizza, Amazon, and JCPenney’s to name a few.

CoolSavings.com offers a number of printable grocery coupons on a wide variety of popular food products, including canned soup, cereal, and prepackaged salads. You can also sign up for coupons to be electronically sent to you, but check to see if that also includes unwanted e-mail spam.

Be Careful of Coupon Crooks attempting to cheat you out of your hard-earned dollars. Some thieves, understanding the increasing popularity of online coupons, are sending out e-mails with fake coupons attached. If opened, these e-mails often include damaging “computer worms” that infect your computer. One recently encountered fake e-mail promotes an online McDonald’s discount coupon for its “new discount menu.”

There are many potential ways to save with online coupons. Happy shopping.

Free Credit Reports

I strongly recommend you get your annual free credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—at the beginning of each year. You can get your report by going online to www.annualcreditreport.com. Federal law requires that the three agencies provide you with the opportunity to make corrections if you find errors. Given all of the uncertainly in the credit markets, you will want to make sure your credit history is accurate before you apply for credit. 

 


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