By LAURA T. COFFEY
Click or clip to save with coupons
Coupons have been saving savvy consumers money for decades. After all, why pay full price for products when you can score deep discounts or buy one, get one free? Today the Internet makes it possible for you to find coupons for your favorite retailers or products online. Here's how online coupons work:
1. Print coupons at home. From your home computer, you can download and print coupons for use at a host of restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers. Good print-at-home coupon sites include Value-pak.com, ValuePage.com, Coolsavings.com and CouponPages.com.
2. Know the pros and cons of printing. These sites can save you precious clipping time, but many of the coupons you encounter may not interest you or be redeemable in your ZIP code. Also, you need a quality printer to get the coupons' bar codes to print properly.
3. Consider subscription services. You can pay upfront for the opportunity to save at sites such as Mycoupons.com, which charges an annual membership fee of $19.95. The site allows you to choose specific coupons and have them mailed to your home.
4. Or opt for a free subscription. Other sites, such as CustomCoupon.com, offer a similar service and mail the coupons to you for free.
5. Go paperless and save. By signing up for one of the store's preferred shopping cards, you can gain access to special discounts not available to other customers.
6. Plan ahead. Some grocery store Web sites, such as www.kashnkarry.com, show the specials available to preferred shopping card holders each week.
7. Know the code. You also can save with online coupon codes, which are posted at CurrentCodes.com, FatWallet.com, DealCatcher.com and other sites. These codes give you discounts -- and in some cases free shipping -- when you make online purchases.
8. Make the codes work for you. Take advantage of the codes by clicking on offers on the coupon code sites, or by copying and pasting them into the code box on an online retailer's checkout screen.
9. Think about your privacy. There are plenty of free coupon deals out there, but most coupon sites are after something: at least some personal information about you, so they can gather insight into your spending habits. You must decide how much that bothers you.
10. You don't have to play along. If you simply do not want to reveal any information about yourself, opt for Web sites that don't ask you to register. Most coupon code sites do not.
-- Compiled by Laura T. Coffey.
Sources: MSN Money (moneycentral.msn.com/home.asp); Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine (www.kiplinger.com)
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