** Image is Courtesy of FreeImages.com **
In celebration of National Coupon Month this September, ILoveCouponMonth.com--an online source for coupon information, statistics and savings tips created by CouponSherpa.com --shares 30 tried and true, plus some unexpected, places to find coupons for a month-long of savings.
Founded by the Performance Marketing Association in September 1998, National Coupon Month recognizes the impact coupons have had on consumer buying habits. Happily, coupons have become even more pervasive since 1998 and are now available just about everywhere you look, whether it be via the Internet, social media, smartphone or bank statements.
In fact, such digital coupons are galloping to the fore. According to research released June 1 by eMarketer, 88.2 million consumers will use digital coupons as an important part of their shopping experience in 2011. That's 47 percent of adult Internet users, a statistic that's destined to rise in the near future. The study also revealed 92.5 million adult Internet users will use online coupons in 2012, versus 96.8 million in 2013.
Wether you are new to the coupon game or a skilled clipper, ILoveCouponMonth.com is the ultimate destination for coupon-lovers featuring data, 30 days of savings tips, and much more. Helping shoppers save even more money during National Coupon Month, here are 30 places to find coupons for 30 days of bargains.
1. Coupon-Aggregate WebsitesForget all that clipping and sifting through newspapers; online coupons make the hunt-and-peck method a thing of the past. Coupon-aggregate websites allow shoppers to pinpoint the coupons they need and either use the coupon codes to save online or download printable coupons for shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.
2. Smartphone AppsMore than one in four mobile users in the U.S. own a smartphone, which makes coupon applications amazingly handy. For example, the free CouponSherpa.com app that offers mobile coupons is perfect for I Love Coupon Month as it actually allows you to search for coupons while shopping. The coupon is then displayed as either a scannable image or numeric code that the cashier can enter at the register. You receive an immediate discount. The app also features grocery coupons. Type in your ZIP code to find a supermarket in the area, save desired grocery coupons from your phone to their loyalty card, and enjoy instant savings when their card is swiped at checkout.
3. Social MediaFacebook, Twitter, even YouTube provide links to coupons from just about every merchant and service you've heard of. Need a new dress? Visit your favorite retailer's Facebook page and print out a coupon. Heading to the grocery store? Check their Twitter feed for coupon links. Lastly, look for coupon bloggers who create instructional videos on YouTube that include similar links.
4. Daily Deal ServicesBy now, nearly everyone has heard about daily deal services, the largest of which are Groupon and Living Social. The success of these two behemoths has led to major clonage, including many companies focusing on specific regions or cities. Here's how it works: You register with the site and receive daily emails detailing major savings for various services and merchants. If you're interested, just click on the deal, pay and download the attached coupon.
5. Direct Mail PacketsDirect mail packets are envelopes stuffed with paper coupons and delivered to your mailbox. The most popular and steadily growing version comes from Valpak, delivered in light-blue envelopes roughly once per month.
6. Bank Statements BillShrink works with 2,000 banks to analyze consumer spending habits and provide coupons implanted in your bank statements above certain purchases. In essence, this method allows retailers to target coupons specific to your likes and needs, instead of requiring customers do the research.
7. Coupon TrainsTrains are a simple way for enthusiasts to exchange coupons through the mail. Every train is different, but the rules are basically the same. An envelope of 40 to 200 coupons is mailed from the "conductor" to the first person on the train list. That person removes the coupons they want, replaces them with those of equal value and number, then mails the envelope on to the next member. Many such trains are now sponsored by mommy bloggers.
8. Loyalty Card CouponsMost major supermarket chains allow shoppers to upload coupons from their websites to loyalty cards. The trick is to remember which coupons you've actually loaded so you don't forget or buy the wrong product. This marketing method is beginning to cross over to other companies. For example, Shell gas stations offer fuel discounts for repeat customers with rewards cards.
9. Manufacturers' WebsitesWanting to get a cut of the action, manufacturers began offering their own online coupons, some of which are printable coupons you can use in their stores. Others offer coupon codes for online purchases. The variety of coupons available may surprise you. Everyone from furniture to health-food manufacturers have gotten in on the game. For example, Lane Recliners recently advertised a $100 coupon usable with a minimum purchase of just $499.
10. Emailed NewslettersSign up for email newsletters offered on merchant websites and many will regularly send out coupons. If you plan on registering for a bunch of these newsletters, you might want to create a separate email account so your personal inbox isn't overwhelmed.
11. eBayThe online-auction site devotes an entire section to coupons, many of which are sold via the "Buy It Now" status. This means you can purchase the advertised coupon immediately without waiting for the auction to expire. The day I checked there were more than 81,000 coupons on offer.
12. PayPalBased on a subscriber's previous purchases, PayPal provides coupons specific to your needs.
13. Newspaper InsertsThe original source for coupons, newspaper inserts are still the number-one place to find print coupons. You can add to your collection without multiple subscriptions by asking friends and family to pass on inserts they don't use.
14. Online Store CircularsSubscribing to a newspaper for the circulars is still the number one way to find coupons, but many merchants now post these sale flyers directly on their websites, allowing you to download coupons or access the coupon codes.
15. Cellfire.comAnother coupon aggregate site, Cellfire.com allows you to download coupons directly to your grocery loyalty card. The cashier then swipes the card at checkout and "poof," instant savings. The service is available for over 3,500 grocery stores across the country. Signing up for a free membership entitles you to additional savings and services.
16. MagazinesCoupons are one of the best way advertisers can gain attention amidst a deluge of ads in magazines. Check out medical waiting rooms for extra copies, but ask before you tear.
17. Entertainment BooksFor nearly 50 years, Entertainment has helped schools and other non-profits raise funds by selling these bound coupon booklets. You'll pay anywhere from $5 to $25 for a ton of coupons in such categories as dining, shopping, movie tickets, groceries, services, travel, attractions, car care, and home furnishings. You can also buy Entertainment Books directly from its website.
18. Recycling BinsAsk friends, neighbors, family members and stores if you can dig through their recycling bins for unused coupons. Be careful about hitting commercially owned bins, however, as some cities have laws against this practice.
19. Phone BooksPhone books may be the equivalent of print dinosaurs, but most include a coupon section for local businesses either in the middle or at the back.
20. Junk MailPostal carriers hate these loose flyers because they're hard to deliver, but junk mail promotions are a good source for coupons. Some replicate newspaper-insert content while others offer entirely different coupons.
21. Free SamplesManufacturers offering free samples through the mail usually include a coupon or two as a means of enticing you into purchasing their goods. This is pretty cool because you can actually try the product before buying.
22. Coupon Clipping ServicesYou'll pay a nominal fee for coupons from these services, but you can register to receive coupons in specific categories or for preferred manufacturers and stores.
23. Hangtag CouponsMost often found on wines and bottled products, hangtag coupons, naturally, hang off the neck of the bottles.
24. Coupon ForumsWhether your a newbie or an extreme couponer, these forums are a great way to learn about special deals and coupon links. Member discussions keep you informed about the best and worst coupons while offering tips for use.
25. With Your Grocery ReceiptKnown as Catalinas, these coupons are usually keyed to your purchase that day or, if you use a loyalty card, previous purchases.
26. Supermarket Tear PadsTear-pad coupons usually hang out next to a product in grocery stores. As the name suggests, you simply tear off the coupon you need and turn it in at checkout. Don't be greedy, however. Leave some behind for other shoppers.
27. Restaurant Recipe Tear PadsSearch the checkout station at restaurants for tear pads with recipes and attached coupons. You might also ask your server if they offer coupons. Some take-out menus also include coupons.
28. BlinkiesBlinkies are coupons distributed in stores by SmartSource Coupon Machines. The nickname refers to the machines blinking light, designed to catch your attention. SmartSource typically changes the coupons every month and the offers vary between regions and stores. Some blinkies actually "talk," which is incredibly irritating in already noisy stores.
29. Loyalty CardsMany supermarket chains allow shoppers to upload coupons from their websites to your loyalty card. The trick is to remember which coupons you've actually loaded so you don't buy the wrong products. This promotional method is beginning to cross over to other merchants. For example, Shell gas stations offer fuel discounts for repeat customers.
30. Inside Product PackagingLook inside your cereal boxes, can labels, etc. for hidden coupons. If you're lucky, the manufacturer has advertised the coupon's existence on the front of the package.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. She is available for in-studio, satelite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ShopSmart Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.