Nobody uses coupons anymore, right?
Well, nobody besides my mom and grandmother, and a few extreme couponers on American television who just won’t give up.
Couponing may be a trend as old as time, but it’s still alive and well. In fact, couponing today is so easy, there’s no reason not to take advantage of these wicked savings.
Coupons in the media
If The Learning Channel and Discovery Family can create successful television series about extreme couponing, people must be interested, right?
While they don’t currently have any new seasons of these shows airing, the extreme couponing fad surpassed everyone’s expectations – especially that of The Wall Street Journal, whose original "Hard Times Turn Coupon Clipping Into the Newest Extreme Sport" first highlighted the activity.
ABC Nightline then did a special segment called Extreme Couponing Competition: How Far Can $50 Go? followed by TLC’s three seasons of Extreme Couponing, and finally Discovery Family’s Greatest Givers: Extreme Couponing.
But couponing these days is not anything like what you see in these shows.
Part of this is because of where we live. A bigger part is due to changes in technology.
Yes, technology – it’s even changing couponing.
Plus a travel bonus worth another $150.
Quantities are limited.
Coupons: Not gone and not forgotten
Some say physical coupons are harder and harder to find these days, although I don’t necessarily agree. They might not come in flyers or the back of a cereal box as much as they used to, but they’re still out there.
There are several websites that will mail coupons to your home, requesting only basic sign-in information on your part.
- Save.ca. They will send you grocery coupons and occasional bonus coupons exclusive to subscribers as well as updates on special sales and deals at specific retailers. You can also simply "clip" and print coupons available on the main page – no subscription required.
- Websaver. Websaver asks for your province and provides coupon options for your area that can be mailed to you (for $1 postage and handling). You can also browse flyers or print select coupons directly from their site.
- P&G Everyday. P&G offers a large selection of coupons for their branded products as well as the option to have new offers and coupons emailed to you.
Related: How To Make A Coupon Binder
Couponing in Canada
A lot of what the super savers on Extreme Couponing do to make coupons work for them isn’t going to work for us in Canada.
Most of our coupons specifically say they can’t be used in combination with any other discount, and only limit one per person, per transaction. They also have very finite expiration dates, so you have to be careful to read the fine print and get organized with your clippings to make sure you use them at the right time for maximum discounts.
Stores in the USA often have double-coupon days (or even triple!) where the cashier will give you double the discount your voucher specifies, usually up to a certain amount ($1, $3, whatever). As far as I know, there aren’t any Canadian retailers that offer this sort of promotion.
However, we do use coupon matchups in Canada, which happen when you’re able to use a coupon to get a discount on an item that’s already on sale…
Deal stacking is the same idea: buying a clearance item during a "50% off the entire store!" day and paying for it with a gift card you bought during another “50% off the entire store!” day.
Let the savings roll
Every now and then, you’ll likely get a flyer-type booklet in your mailbox that you didn’t request. These usually come from Smartsource, RedPlum or P&G.
These booklets usually come with a newspaper or a pile of flyers and are always full of great deals. They include everything from disposable diapers to individual instant rice bowls.
If you’re looking for coupons for specific items, your best bet is to hit the Internet Highway and visit one of the numerous Canadian coupon websites. You can also go directly to the brand site and print coupons from there. The websites for Kashi, Kraft, and Betty Crocker, for instance, have sections dedicated to coupons and special offers for their products.
If this isn’t easy enough, you can also walk into any Superstore in Atlantic Canada and you’ll be met with a board covered in coupons. These offers change every week and you don’t even have to go out of your way to get them. No email address, mailing address, phone calls or secret handshakes required.
Loyalty programs are changing the game
One change to the coupon and deal-hunting scene has been the emergence of new loyalty programs. Places like Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart (which now have combined loyalty cards), Metro and Sobeys have reward programs specifically tailored to your personal shopping trends, which can be extremely advantageous.
Instead of offering extra points on certain items around the store (like the NSLC does in Nova Scotia), these retailers offer extra points on items you have bought consistently in the past. This is extra great for those people who stick to a weekly or monthly meal plan, and buy and cook the same food all the time.
Of course, for the tech-savvy shopper (who still prefers a brick-and-mortar store) there are several coupon apps available for mobile devices.
Checkout 51 is a special sort of app that offers cash back on specific items each week rather than providing coupons for you to use at the cash register. It seems that taking pics of your receipts and uploading them is much easier and preferable to cutting up fliers.
Wheeling and dealing on the World Wide Web
For online shopping, coupons are a little harder to use.
Promo codes are where it’s at and they really are everywhere. You can even get plugins for your browser that will automatically find coupon or promo codes that can be applied to the specific site you’re shopping on and/or the items you’re purchasing. Here are a few:
- Honey. Once you get to the checkout page, simply click on the Honey button and it will instantly apply discount codes. No searching necessary.
- Cently. Formerly called "Coupons at Checkout," Cently works the same as Honey and it can be used in addition to Honey and any other plugins. In fact, promo-code plugin stacking is encouraged. Who would have thought?
- Amazon Assistant. For the avid Amazon-er, this extension will ensure you’re getting the best price possible on the site. No tedious double-checking for you.
The dark side of deal-hunting
There truly is a thrill to finding a
good great deal.
Although, there is a dark side of deal hunting. Some people, myself included, freely admit that couponing triggers the Mr. Hyde-like hoarder within us.
I don’t want to allow myself to become so obsessed with laundry detergent deals that I have to give up my entire linen closet to house all the bottles of Tide I accumulate. I like my linen closet!
I also like the empty space under my bed staying empty and using my crawl space only for boxes of Christmas decorations and winter tires. I have enough trouble finding places to put my monthly Costco purchases, I can’t imagine how stressed I’d become if I allowed my Mr. Hyde to go grocery shopping.
How about you? Do you coupon? You prefer to use apps?
Do you have an alter ego that takes over when you see the "Rollback" sign at Walmart?
Let us know in the comments!