September is National Coupon Month, and while that might mean a month-long bacchanal to extreme couponers, the average shopper probably doesn’t care very much. But everyone likes to save, right? According to NCH Marketing Services, consumers saved 3.6 billion dollars with coupons last year. Want to be one of those people? If you are one of the many who want to save but don’t want to work for it, National Coupon Month is a heads up that using coupons is now as easy as visiting Facebook on your laptop or using the Opentable app on your smart device.
Coupons have come a long way since just after the Civil War, when the first coupon became available—a discount on a glass of Coca-Cola at the pharmacy soda fountain. Other brands entered the coupon game over the next hundred years, but things really ramped up with the bulky debut of Valpak and newspaper circulars nearly 50 years ago. While many Americans still use these paper coupons to save at the grocery store and for home services like lawn care, savvy consumers have increasingly turned to technology for coupons. And if you haven’t, you should.
Grocery coupons can be found at sites like Redplum.com, which lets you know which coupons can be used at stores in your area. It even lets you to load them onto your grocery-store loyalty card. (A note about loyalty cards: Instead of toting a bunch of them on your keychain, just scan them into the Stocard app, which holds all of the information for you electronically). Also check out Coupons.com for grocery offers.
If you frequent a particular store, see if they have an app. The Target Cartwheel app and the CVS apps offer coupons that can be scanned at checkout, making saving super easy. Many other stores have similar apps.
For everything else you need, from sneakers to Six Flags tickets, there are multi-category coupons sites and apps like RetailMeNot (disclosure, I work for them periodically) and DealNews, which offer hundreds of thousands of coupons from tens of thousands of retailers. The RetailMeNot app even uses the GPS on your phone to send you location-specific deals – you don’t even have to think about saving.
Trust me, using coupons these days is easy, it’s free and you’ll save a bundle. Happy National Coupon Month!