My mom taught me most of what I know about couponing today. I started couponing in my teens, and at that time paper coupons were what everybody used. During college and in the last several years of building (and then changing) careers, I kind of just forgot about couponing. So when I returned to the concept of using coupons to save money a couple of years ago, I discovered that the landscape had really changed! Now, instead of just one option—which makes choosing oh-so-simple—I am confronted with a whole menu of options every time I go to use a coupon. Here are some tips to help you combine printables, digitals and more for extra savings.

Yay! Coupons are here to stay!

The good news is, coupons themselves are here to stay!

Yes, formats have diversified, and many retailers across the board are struggling to determine the best approach to build and preserve customer loyalty (see Dispatch for more).

And yes, couponing (like stock prices, interest rates and real estate values) tends to fluctuate according to the state of the economy and other temporary trends ("extreme couponing" is a great example here). But these valleys and peaks are just that—they are not an indication of whether the coupon (regardless of type) is headed the way of the dinosaur and the dodo (see Time for more).

In fact, the declines in coupon use reported in 2012 may have been as much about having fewer coupons to choose from (and fewer truly good savings deals amongst those) as a response to a rebounding economy or any other cause (see Today for more).

As well, there is a whole generation of consumers (like my mom and me) who were born and raised on the coupons you find in your Sunday paper. These folks (ages 40-80+) trust physical manufacturer coupons. We are still getting used to the other couponing options—not to mention deciding how much we want to permit technology to run our lives (see Media Life for more).

Who uses which coupons how often 

RetailMeNot recently released the results of their interesting survey on who uses which coupon types for what. Stats like these can help you think through how to make the most of coupons without spending all your time couponing.

Who uses coupons:

  • 92% of all survey respondents use coupons (type not specified).
  • 93% use email coupons.
  • 1 in 3 parents use online coupons (coupon codes).
  • Couponers ages 18-34 use mobile coupons 18% of the time.
  • Couponers ages 35+ use mobile coupons just 6% of the time.

The 3 most popular coupon types:

  • Printable (physical) coupons: 60%
  • Online coupons: ~30%
  • Mobile (digital) coupons: 10%

The most popular coupon offers:

  • Coupons for 25% off or less
  • Coupons that offer a specific $$ value discount on their purchase

Printable + digital + you

One thing couponing experts constantly reiterate is this:

Your couponing style is very, very personal.

There is no "one correct way" to coupon. There is no "right" or "wrong" type of coupon to use. There is just finding savings for the things you need at the time you need them, using all available means to save the most.

3 Excellent cash back apps

Three of KCL's favorite cash back savings apps are Ibotta, Checkout51, and BerryCart. We love these because each features a significant number of grocery store rebates and savings offers.

Benefits of using an app like these three:

  • If you forget your printable coupons at home, you can still search for deals using an app. Some of these apps require scanned receipts after purchase.
  • You can stack manufacturer and grocery coupons with in-app rebates for extra savings.
  • You can get cash back for your purchases.

Example: Coconut water is on your "to buy" list this week. The full retail price is $5.29 (Vitacost). You pull up the Berry Cart app on your phone and see you can redeem a $0.75 off deal for a 1 liter bottle of CoCo Libre coconut water. Plus, you have a printable coupon for $1.00 off any CoCo Libre product.

  • Redeem printable coupon. You buy the coconut water and redeem your printable $1.00 off coupon at checkout = $4.29 price.
  • Redeem Berry Cart rebate. You take a picture of your receipt and send it to BerryCart. They send you $0.75 in cash that you can redeem through PayPal or a gift card – $3.54 final price.
  • TOTAL SAVINGS: $1.75

 

The Rise of Digital Coupons and How to Use Them for Extra Savings