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Goodbye Clip, Hello Click

Before you head out to the grocery store or the mall, do a little web browsing for online coupons that can save you a bundle. According to the Promotion Marketing Association Coupon Council, the average savings per coupon is $1.15.

Most online coupon sites are searchable by brand name or product category, which allows you to find coupons quickly for the specific items on your list—a big plus for list shoppers. If you’re headed to a particular store, be sure to check that store’s website for special offers. Well-known product manufacturers have printable coupons listed on their websites.

Of course, you’ll need to print the coupons to take with you, but the online versions are easier to find and there’s no clipping involved. Some sites will require you to download software to print the coupons. This is necessary for the barcode to print correctly and scan easily at the checkout counter.

Most sites will want you to register using your e-mail address. If you’re a serious coupon user, this can be good, since the sites will provide customized information and incentives based on your favorite brands.

Entering “free coupons” or “grocery coupons,” in your web browser will bring up thousands of sites, all offering similar basics; and each one usually has a few extras or special features. For example, one may e-mail coupons to you for grocery stores in your neighborhood based on your zip code. Another will invite you to sign up to receive free samples of your favorite products in the mail. Websites and features seem almost endless, so it’s easy to find a few you like. For example, typical sites include:

• www.ShopAtHome.com. This site lists stores alphabetically, so you can look for deals and coupons before leaving home. It offers financial incentives for joining.

• www.eBates.com. Joining this site earns you rebates when you shop at certain online stores.

• www.yadahome.com. This site allows you to create your grocery list online and then searches for matching coupons.

Beware of websites “selling” coupons. Some are legitimate, but many are fraudulent. Considering how many websites have free coupons, you may never face this problem.

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