Times are changing, and fewer people buy, subscribe to, or even read the physical edition of the Sunday newspaper.
Manufacturers are therefore looking for other ways to get their coupons in the hands of consumers, and the push toward printable Internet coupons seems to be gaining steam.
Broadly speaking, there are two main sources for printable Internet coupons - sites devoted just to this type of coupon and manufacturers’ sites offering coupons for a specific brand. Both types are worth checking out - come on, you’ve got time to surf to one or two extra sites, right?
The big name sites that provide major-brand deals are coupons.com, smartsource.com, and redplum.com. Another useful site you may want to bookmark is mambosprouts.com, which focuses on deals for healthy and organic items.
Most of these sites will ask you to either run a program or accept something in your browser before allowing you to print your coupons. Do not be afraid of this step; it's because each site allows you to print two coupons per computer - not per IP address or per household. This step is a way to keep track of how many coupons have been printed.
Seems fair, right? If you could print 100 coupons a day, companies probably wouldn’t look at this medium very fondly. (Also, if you’re a Mac user like I am, be aware that Safari is the best browser to ensure that you’ll be able to print what you need, with Firefox coming in second as likely being compatible.)
Most of the time, these sites reset their offerings at the beginning of the month. The coupons on the sites have a limited number of prints available, so there’s no guarantee that what’s there to print today will still be printable tomorrow.
Higher value coupons go quickly, of course, and then if there’s a well-known sale that pairs well with a printable coupon that has gained notice from the various deal bloggers, that coupon is going to disappear rapidly as well.
At the beginning of each month, you may want to visit these sites at least once. You can also wait until one of the matchup websites lets you know which printables are the most valuable for the week and print them then, though you just run the risk of missing out. (And yes, I admit, this is what I tend to do.)
On the other hand, print with care - paper and ink costs are pretty minimal if you’re careful, but clicking “Select All” and “Print All” could wind up taking more resources than you save, especially if you don't get to the coupons before they expire, which I may or may not also know about.
After you’ve printed what you like, cut the coupons out and put them in your binder, folder, envelope, pocket ... or just put them in something that you’ll carry with you when you go to the store. And then spend as you wish. Do bear in mind that there have been cases of fraud with printable coupons - they’re rare cases, but unfortunately those have stuck in the minds of many a store manager.
Most stores in the Decatur area accept printable coupons without a hassle, but do be aware that you may run into a blip here and there with a cashier who isn’t sure of the store’s coupon policy. Also, most stores won’t accept a printable coupon that entitles you to an item completely free, with no additional purchase required, but those are rather rare anyway as manufacturers also know this is the normal policy.
The second way to get printable Internet coupons is directly from the manufacturers and brands themselves. This is how you’ll find coupons that don’t often appear in the Sunday paper. For example, Stonyfield Farm (a brand of organic dairy products) has a page of printable coupons that you can print once a month, as does competing brand Organic Valley.
Use your favorite search engine to look for other brands that you like, and see if the company is offering up any special printables targeted directly at you. If you regularly buy organics or vegetarian items, this may be your best way to find the coupons you'll use.
If you want to take this all a step further, sign up for newsletters from brands or blogs; Google, Yahoo, and Bing until you drop; and keep an eye out for Facebook deals.
Note that the sites I’ve discussed here are not the same as sites offering discount codes for online purchases; there are plenty of legit sites that do that as well, but for some reason spammers love to comment about them incessantly on columns like this. Be careful and watch for a future column in which I'll give you tips on this type of saving.