When we were young parents, in the 1980s and 90s, coupon clipping was still a popular activity (some would say obsession!) I still remember looking through the newspaper for discounts on Tide and other staples… and the small rush that I got when I found a particularly good deal.
Unfortunately, while coupon clipping was fun (ok, addictive), it wasn’t always clear whether it was the best use of my time.
During my active mom years, I must have spent hundreds of hours looking through magazines and newspapers, clipping and sorting coupons and driving extra miles to get to the shops with the best deals. It may have been fun, but, it was also a hassle.
So, after my kids left the house, I abandoned paper coupon clipping and even managed to ignore the wave of digital replacements that took the Internet by storm.
It was only recently that I decided to give coupons another look… and what I found absolutely shocked me! Not only are the latest digital coupon services great at saving you money, but, they also avoid many of the inconveniences that plagued their predecessors.
Here are 3 modern alternatives to clipping coupons that will actually save you money before and in retirement.
Digital Coupon Browser Plugins: Save at 1,000s of Stores with Honey
Normally, I would save the best for last, but, Honey is just so good, that I can’t wait to talk about it!
What I love about Honey is that it integrates seamlessly into your Internet browser (I use Chrome). This means that you don’t need to visit coupon sites in order to copy and paste digital coupons.
Honey searches for coupon codes in the background so that you can focus on productive shopping instead of coupon chopping.
For example, let’s say that you have just added a new Conair Ceramic Hair Dryer to your cart on Amazon. You find the best price and add the item to your cart.
Then, when you visit the checkout page, Honey will tell you if you have a good chance of finding a coupon code that can be applied to your purchase. If you tell Honey to search for coupons, it will do all of the hard work, looking through thousands of potential offers to find the best deal for you. And, all of this happens without you having to leave Amazon’s website.
But, Honey doesn’t stop there! In addition to searching for coupons at check-out time, the plugin also allows you to add items to your “watch list.” Once an item has been added to your watch list, Honey will send you a notification when the price drops. This means that, if you are willing to be a bit patient, you can almost always get a great deal on the products you need.
So, how much does Honey charge for finding you the best deals out there? Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Instead, the company makes money by partnering with big companies who want to advertise their offers to Honey’s millions of users.
Pro Tip! If you want to save BIG with Honey, use it during the biggest shopping days of the year. I have personally saved 50% of more on my big-ticket items just by waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to do my shopping.
Digital Coupon Sites: Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com
Honey is great at finding “low hanging fruit” coupons quickly and efficiently, but, if you have a little extra time, it makes sense to check out the more traditional digital coupon sites too.
Two of my favorite digital coupon sites are Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com.
Coupons.com – Good for Online Coupons, Great for Paper Coupons and Local Deals
In addition to providing digital coupons, Coupons.com also offers printable coupons, which is great, because, not all of the items on your shopping list are going to be available online.
From buy-one-get-one-free deals on popular snack foods to discounts on laundry detergents and shampoos, Coupons.com has one of the widest ranges of printable coupons out there.
In another nod to local businesses, Coupons.com also allows you to enter your ZIP code to find deals in your local area.
RetailMeNot.com – Good Coverage and a Useful Rx Search Tool
RetailMeNot is another popular website that offers both digital and paper coupons. They work with thousands of retailers in the United States, both online and offline.
In addition, RetailMeNot has a Rx coupon search tool that is perfect for older adults like us. The tool, called RxSaver, allows you to enter the name of a prescription drug that you are taking and compare prices at popular pharmacies in your area. You can also print out coupons to take with you to save even more.
Local Coupons: LivingSocial
In a world where Amazon.com has taken over online shopping and Walmart seems to own everything else, it’s great to see a website that is focused on helping you to find local deals.
When you visit their website, LivingSocial automatically detects your location and shows you deals in your area. Or, you can enter your location manually, which can come in handy if you have a trip planned to another city.
Living Social has offers at spas and fitness clubs, restaurants and zoos… and everything in-between!
When I last visited the website, I came across a deal for 41% off of a meal for two at The Melting Pot, a fantastic restaurant in Seattle, where I spent much of my career.
So, if you are looking for local deals and want to do your part to support the businesses in your area, LivingSocial is a great place to start.
Saving Money Isn’t as Important as Investing it!
If using coupons helps you to save just $3 a day, you would save over $1,000 over the course of a year. But, while saving money is great, investing it is even better.
Consider the following scenario…
If you were 55 now and decided to invest the money that you saved using coupons for your old age, you could have as much as $25,000 more by age 67 (assuming a 10% annual return). If you continued to save until age 77, you could have $80,000 more saved, just when you really needed it.
Digital coupon websites aren’t magic. By themselves, they aren’t going to change your future. But, if you put your savings to work, they could help you to reach your retirement goals faster.
Do you remember cutting paper coupons when you were younger? Have you tried any of the next generation coupon sites listed in this article? Which ones? Let’s have a conversation!