We’ve come a long way since 1895, when grocer C.W. Post issued the first manufacturer coupon, which gave people a 1-cent discount on his new breakfast cereal, Grape-Nuts. In 2008, 281 billion coupons were distributed throughout the U.S. As the economy worsens, frugality is attracting a new generation of couponers.
While Sunday inserts from SmartSource and Valassis continue to deliver the bulk of manufacturers coupons, coupon distribution is finding new inroads. Electronic coupons, arriving by cell phone (see Shortcuts.com, http://www.pgesaver.com and http://www.cellfire.com), Twitter, e-mail and Facebook, are attracting new customers. You can download digital coupons to your supermarket’s loyalty card or have them arrive on your cell phone as promotion code images. The Internet is crawling with coupons for you to download and print at home.
Even with all of these mind-numbing, if not confusing, ways to collect coupons, it’s still a game of chance. You may or may not find coupons for products you need or want.
There is another method of effective couponing, which I call couponing by choice. To understand, you need to meet Rachael Woodard, founder of The Coupon Clippers, a coupon-clipping service that she operates out of her home in Florida. Rachael and her staff, who collect, clip, organize and file, have more than a million national-brand coupons in her warehouse and shipping center at any given time. (Wouldn’t you love to see that?!)
TCC customers come to http://www.TheCouponClippers.com, select the exact coupons they need and pay a small handling fee for each coupon depending on its face value; between 5 cents and 10 cents is typical. There is a $3-per-order minimum requirement plus 50 cents per order for administrative costs. That’s it. For less than five bucks, you can get a pile of the exact coupons that you need, with all the work done for you.
If your time, like mine, is valuable and searching for online coupons and trying to figure out digital downloads gives you a rash, you need to check out The Coupon Clippers. I tell you, the operation is amazing.
Once you’ve registered at http://www.TheCouponClippers.com, start by reading the frequently asked questions. Then move to “About Us.” By then, you’ll be eager to check out the “Hot” coupons and play around with the search feature. When your eyes start to glaze over, take a break to visit the forums. That will give you a good idea of what this company is all about.
Here’s the remarkable thing: Rachael and her crew are so efficient and reliable that if you place your order as soon as you receive your store’s sale flier, Rachael can have your coupons to you before the sale ends.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including her latest, “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?”