This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Clipping coupons from the Sunday newspaper can help you save money at the grocery store. But there are a number of other ways to acquire coupons that can make even more of an impact on your food budget.
To rev up my couponing efforts, I recently attended an "advanced couponing" class offered by the women who run the MamasonaDime.com blog.
Jacki Brunson and Becky Schiffman have binders stuffed with coupons. But they aren't the types you'd see on the "Extreme Couponing" show they don't climb into Dumpsters or spend hours a day trying to get more coupons.
They get most of them the standard way by clipping the Sunday newspaper but as I learned in class, that's not their only method.
Become a BzzAgent • Sign up at Bzzagent.com and you could be selected to try brand-name products and services for free. A manufacturer will either send you a product to try or send you a coupon for a product you can pick up in-store.
Ask favorite firms for coupons • One of Brunson's favorite tips is to call, write or email companies and ask for coupons. I found out this is a great way to score discounts. Although a bit skeptical, I tried this method, and most of my efforts paid off with great coupons. After calling Purina (1-800-7-PURINA), the company sent me high-value cat food and cat litter coupons. Other companies sent me coupons for cheese, bread, soy milk and juice. About half were higher in value that I had seen in the newspaper.
The Couponing to Disney blog has a list of contact information for major food and personal-care products companies. Go to Couponingtodisney.com/category/5-a-day and click on "5 A Day PDF." The blog author emails companies regularly to get coupons. However, it's worth noting that she never asks for coupons directly she either compliments or criticizes a company in hopes it will send some type of money-saving offer. I favor the more direct approach.
Throw a house party • Sign up at Houseparty.com and you could be selected to host a party in which you offer guests a chance to try a specific product. Hosts typically get samples, high-value coupons and other freebies. Recent house parties were for products such as a new Silk soy milk beverage, Weight Watchers snacks and Duncan Hines frosting. It's a bit like hosting a Tupperware party, but your guests don't have to buy anything; you simply give them coupons and free stuff.
Sign up online • Kraft First Taste (http://www.kraftfirsttaste.com) provides high-value and free-product coupons several times a year for a variety of grocery items. Procter & Gamble has a similar site, Vocalpoint.com; General Mills offers the same at Pssst.generalmills.com. You'll need to register at all three and check in periodically to see if you have any money-saving offers.
To get coupons more immediately other than from the coupon-printing websites Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and Redplum.com go directly to manufacturers' websites. For example, when Campbell's soup is on sale, I go to Campbellskitchen.com and click on "Savings Center" and then "Get Coupons." There are a host of printable coupons for a variety of Campbell's products.
Sign up with a market research company • Companies such as Synovate (http://www.globalopinionpanels.com) open up their consumer panels periodically to various genders and age groups, depending on their needs. Participants may periodically receive full-sized food and personal-care products to try or test. Another company is i-say.com. If you like to try new products and provide your opinion, this may be a way to get free items in the process.
Stop by the customer service desk • Many grocery stores have coupons and other money-saving offers at these centers. A number keep sought-after beer rebate forms behind these counters. Beer company offers give you $5, $10, $20 or even more money back on the purchase of items such as meat, bottled water, cheese, snacks or other products. In Utah, you do not have to purchase any beer to qualify for these rebates just the specific grocery item named in the rebate.
Because these offers are so popular, many stores have begun monitoring them to prevent one person from taking all the rebate forms.
Go high-tech • If you shop at Smith's, you can loade-coupons on your shopper card by going to Cellfire.com, Shortcuts.com or SmithsFoodandDrug.com. This is a great option to people who hate clipping coupons.
Order free samples • Beyond class tips, each Thursday, I post on my One Cheap Chick blog a roundup of free samples and offers. The samples are nice, but the reason I request them is that most arrive with high-value coupons. I regularly post free offers for publications, such as Family Circle and The Wall Street Journal, that contain coupons.
Get social • I joined Facebook a couple of years ago specifically for all the money-saving offers being offered on the social networking site. Companies often offer their best coupons there, and to a lesser degree, on Twitter. Follow your favorite food and personal-care products manufacturers so that you'll know when they offer high-value coupons. Many are offered only for a limited time.
Lesley Mitchell writes One Cheap Chick in daily blog form at blogs.sltrib.com/cheap.
One Cheap Chick
Want to learn more about saving money with coupons?
The MamasonaDime.com blog is offering a free "Coupon 101" class at 6:30 p.m. April 11 in West Jordan. Go to bit.ly/GZ5S5x for more information.