Digitize Your Coupon Clipping

When money gets tight, many families turn to coupons to help stretch those dollars a little bit longer. While clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper might be the most common way Americans get their coupons, there’s a digital revolution happening in the coupon world. In the first half of 2009, nearly 10 million digital coupons were redeemed according to Inmar, a coupon-processing company.

Consumers are turning to technology to find their discounts and special deals. There are a slew of web-based portals and mobile applications to help users find and redeem coupons more easily. Here are some of the ways you can digitize your coupon hunting:

Facebook
Many brands have flocked to Facebook and created business pages. In an effort to build their presence on Facebook, they might offer exclusive deals to their Facebook members. If you’re already using Facebook to connect with family and friends, do a search for your favorite retailers and see if they’re using Facebook discounts to drive traffic to the stores. The only minus is most of these brick-and-mortar stores require that you print out the coupons in order to use them in the stores.

Twitter
Out of the nearly four to five million daily tweets, approximately 0.03% of those tweets are coupon or deal-related. Twitter coupon aggregators have cropped up to collect these coupons into one easy interface. Here are some of the popular places to find deals on Twitter:

  • Coupon Tweet – collects popular coupons from retailers and features them by retailer or category. Once you’re signed in, you can vote coupons up or down, helping to contribute which coupons become the most popular. You can send your favorite coupons to friends and family using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, del.iciou.is and Mixx.
  • CheapTweet – also collects popular coupons from retailers. It’s method of prioritizing coupons is a combination of ratings, buzz tracking and spam filtering. You only need an account to vote on or save deals to your account.

Mobile Coupon Services
If you’re too busy to check out the deals on Twitter, you can join a mobile coupon service that will send you blue light specials from your favorite retailers. You can sign up directly with some retailers to receive mobile coupons, but if you want to save yourself the time and headache of managing multiple subscriptions, consider signing up for a mobile coupon aggregator. Most of these services work on an opt-in basis. You tell them what type of offers you want to receive and they’ll send you last minute specials and exclusive coupons to your phone. Here are some popular mobile coupon services:

  • Cellfire – offers a free coupon service that offers savings on groceries, shopping, restaurants and entertainment. You can search for deals on your home PC or mobile phone. Then save the code to your phone and show it to the cashier as you check out. Grocery coupons are a little more complicated. They get saved to a savings card that you’ve signed up for through a participating grocer. If your grocery store doesn’t participate on the program, unfortunately you can’t take advantage of Cellfire’s grocery coupons. When you shop at the grocery store, just swipe your card, and you get the savings. Cellfire service is supported by most cell phones that carry Internet or access data network.
  • Yowza – is a free app that only works on the iPhone or iPod Touch. Unlike other mobile coupon services, they work directly with the retailers so you don’t have to worry about receiving expired deals or having the local franchises that won’t honor the coupon. It only searches for deals within a 50 mile radius of your device so you’ll only get deals that you can use. All the cashier has to do is scan the barcode off your device, making it completely paperless and hassle-free. Cool Trivia Fact: Greg Grunberg, who plays Matt Parkman on the TV series Heroes, is one of the co-founders.

Unfortunately, digital coupons are still in their infancy. Many retailers are still behind the times and you’ll have to resort to email alerts or traditional mail to get their discounts. However, the usage of digital coupons have gone up by 25% over the last year, so as more consumers move towards digital coupons, more retailers that will jump on board.

About the Author:
Kathryn Katz is a single mom, internet marketer and professional copywriter. Kathryn is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor and works for Consolidated Credit Counseling Services. For holiday shoppers, the non-profit credit counseling agency offers a Holiday Survival Guide to help consumers navigate this busy shopping season.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley November 12, 2009 at 10:51 am

CheapTweet is really awesome! I’ve found a lot of very good deals Twitter that I wouldn’t have know about otherwise.

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2 ctreit November 13, 2009 at 7:51 am

Thanks for these links! They will help me. Whenever I shop I search the internet for coupons. Searching for and finding coupons take only a few minutes but I have saved lots of money. Of course, you can only do that when you plan your shopping. I suppose coupons are not that important when you buy on impulse.

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3 Kathryn Katz November 13, 2009 at 8:19 am

Ctreit,

With Yowza you can do a search for coupons for retailers within a 50-mile radius of your current location. So you could go to the store, search for coupons for the store where you’re at and then have the cashier scan the barcode. The only catch is that retailer would have to participate with Yowza’s program.

I think in the future, as mobile coupons and smart phones gain in popularity, you’ll see a lot more options for impulse buyers.

– Kathryn

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4 MoneyMateKate November 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

I follow some of the “mommy bloggers” who focus almost exclusively on coupon shopping. They’re great at recognizing a “Hot Coupon” when they see it.

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