Coupons are Still a Great Way to Save in Tough Economic Times


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As Americans continue to weather harsh economic times, I’m reminded of some of the tactics past generations have used to save, budget and make ends meet.

One strategy both my mom and grandma used was clipping coupons. This helped them squeeze every penny they could from their weekly shopping trips. Each Sunday they would clip coupons, scour the ads for the best prices and make lists. My mom had a tattered brown box she lugged her coupons around in. Inside, labeled envelopes divided the coupons into categories like, “Frozen Food”, “Health and Beauty”, and on and on.

Years later my sister and I joked with my mom about her box of coupons and the meticulous way she would scan the receipt after checking out to make sure every dime saved was accounted for. She simply replied to our teasing, “That’s what you do when you only have $100 dollars a month to spend on groceries for a family of four.”

Wow. I’m still amazed at how she did it.

Not surprisingly, coupons gained popularity in the 1930s during the Great Depression when families struggled to have enough money to eat.

With the advent of the Internet in the early 1990s, coupons have evolved from being “clipable” to becoming downloadable, printable and even scanable from a smartphone.

Today, coupons are just as prevalent and as useful as ever. American shoppers were estimated to have saved $3.7 billion using coupons in 2010, according to a report by NCH Marketing Services, Inc.

With new technologies, former coupon clippers, may need a refresher on how to get the best coupon deals while using the Internet.

Here are some tips on how to start getting online deals like the generations before us used to get from printed coupons:

1. Know how to use online coupon codes.

If you’re buying a product online, it’s more likely than not you can find on online coupon code to shave off a few dollars.  Great resource is Harry and David coupon code. Sometimes coupon codes are as easy to find a searching online and then typing in a few letters at the checkout portion of the purchase. Other times, say you’re getting a deal on online software, you may need to enter the code before the payment info. click here to see a screen shot directions on how to use software codes.

2. Deals of the Day.

Sign up for a daily deal alert through a site like or These sites help you save up to 50 percent on dining and entertainment in your area. How it works. You provide your email address and each day a coupon offer is sent to your inbox. You have the opportunity to “bid” on the coupon. You are essentially buying a half price deal up front and then printing off a rebate coupon to redeem.

3. Smart phone ready.

One of my favorite stores is Target. Now, you can you can click here and opt into their mobile coupon program so scanable coupons will be sent directly to your phone. Go to sites like Coupon Sherpa to see if your favorite store offers a mobile application.

(Kristy Hessman is a freelance writer for a variety of publications. Click here to practice your coupon code skills on this offer for Symantec Antivirus Software: