Happy Frugal Friday!
We’ve covered a lot of information in the past two weeks.
We’ve discussed the ethical objections some vegans have to couponing.
We’ve discussed whether or not a vegan can actually find coupons for items other than Campbell’s Soup and Hamburger Helper.
We’ve discussed different sources of paper coupons.
Today, we’ll discuss one of the richest sources of coupons of all … the Internet.
If you do a Google search for coupons, you’ll be amazed at how many sites you find.
Some sites are legitimate. Some have fraudulent coupons or links you really shouldn’t click on. (Be VERY careful about downloading any “coupon printing software” from any but the most reputable of companies!)
There are sites that maintain databases of coupons and advise which coupon to pair with which sale. Most of these sites are free – however, there are a few sites that STILL try to charge membership fees.
Since we’re all practical vegans here (the impractical ones stopped reading this series a long time ago) we’re going to save our time as well as our money by focusing on the free sites – and only a couple of those.
You will need to create a new email address for yourself. In return for printing coupons and joining coupon databases, you’ll be required to give your email address. So, create a new email address that you’ll be using exclusively for couponing purposes.
Ready? Let’s get started!
First, check out the main coupon internet sites … www.redplum.com, www.coupons.com, www.couponnetwork.com, and www.smartsource.com. You’re required to create an account in order to print coupons, which typically is just your email address and zip code. (Be wary of any site that asks for much more information than that without a good reason.) While you’re at it, sign up for their newsletters.
Another coupon internet site of special interest to vegans is www.mambosprouts.com, which features organic, natural, and often vegan products. Again, sign up for their newsletter.
Next, check out a few coupon databases. These are sites that compile master lists of available coupons from many different sources and provide links. They also frequently match up coupons with weekly sales. My favorite is www.krazycouponlady.com. They have one of the most thorough coupon databases I’ve seen, which makes it almost unnecessary to visit the sites listed above. (Why did I make you check out those sites, then? Because these are trusted, valid sites and you should be aware of them.)
Check out the Krazy Coupon Lady’s database under “Print Coupons.”
Also click on the “Find My Store” tab to view some of the most thorough coupon match-ups around (sadly, Charlotte giant Harris Teeter is not one of their stores).
While we’re talking about coupon match-ups, you DID do your homework last week and decide on your favorite stores to target, right? See if any of the stores you chose are listed under the Krazy Coupon Lady’s “Find My Store” tab. (In my case, CVS and Whole Foods are listed – and a few other stores I occasionally visit, like Rite Aid and Target and Dollar General – but – boo! – not Harris Teeter). If one of your chosen stores isn’t listed, take a minute to Google “(your store) + coupon matchups.” In my case, for Harris Teeter I check out Moola Saving Mom and Southern Savers.
Be aware that these sites will usually just list the BEST deals from the weekly ad – not ALL of the deals available. I’ve noticed that many of the sales that might appeal to me as a vegan – veggie burgers, soy or almond milk, etc. – are almost never listed in the main ads.
Make sure you have signed up for whatever loyalty program your chosen stores offer – a VIC card, a MVP card, an ExtraCare card. Bop on over to their website to make sure you have signed up for all the savings programs you are eligible for. For example, at Harris Teeter having a VIC card is only the beginning. Make sure you have also joined “e-ViC” and check out the “e-VIC” coupons. Load any you can use on your VIC card. (The advantage of e-VIC coupons? You can combine or “stack” them with a manufacturer’s paper coupon!) And at CVS, in addition to their ExtraCare card you can also join the “Beauty Club,” which gets you coupons, savings, and $5 back for every $50 you spend on beauty products (which includes skin, hair, and body care as well as makeup).
While you’re loitering at your chosen store(s) website, go ahead and check out their coupon policy. Print it. Read it. Make sure you understand it. Highlight the important parts. Take it with you when you shop, because sooner or later you’re going to run into a cashier or store manager with a serious attitude problem who’s not going to like that you know more about their store’s policy than they do.
If that scenario should happen, remember charm helps. I’ve sometimes gotten a manager to accept a “questionable coupon” by being very polite and giving him big kitten eyes. Whereas, some of the male cashiers seem to want to get into brawls with my bearded buddy.
Tired? I hope not, because we’re not nearly done. Now I want you to log onto Facebook. (Yes, Facebook. Don’t argue. Just do it, and be glad it’s not MySpace.)
First, quickly “like” any of the coupon matchup sites you’ve decided to use (Krazy Coupon Lady, Moola Saving Mom, etc.)
Go ahead and “like” Vegan Coupons as well – the site managers post random vegan coupons they come across. This is not a professional site, so cut them some slack if they go MIA for a week or two. Unlike many vegan couponing sites which fizzle out after a month or tow, Vegan Coupons has been around for a longtime … since 2009.
“Like” Vegan Cuts ONLY for the contests and giveaways – Vegan Cuts claims to save you money and give you discounts, but most of what they offer is just horrendously overpriced pretentious vegan merchandise. I mean, $12 for a bag of kale chips? Really? REALLY?
“Like” Susan Nichole Handbags for the chance to win a free vegan handbag or wallet every Thursday night.
And be sure to “like” VegCharlotte on Facebook if you haven’t already … 🙂
Go to the Johnny C. Depp Fans page. Sigh. No, that doesn’t have anything to do with couponing, but it’s always a pleasant thing to do when you’re on Facebook.
Pull out that list of “favorites” I had you compile last week. What’s on it? Amy’s Kitchen? Gardein? Silk? Boca? Fine. Go to their Facebook page and “like” it. Sometimes, this alone will get you a coupon. Sometimes, subscribing to their news feed will result in notifications of new coupons, contests, and giveaways.
Let’s go to Amy’s Kitchen and “like” the page. OK, no coupon, doesn’t look like there’s any contests or promotions to enter. Click on “About” and then click the direct link to their website. Under the tab “Community” there’s a subcategory, “Coupons.” Click on that and … looky here! A printable coupon for $.75 off any two Amy’s soups or chilis! (Use it at Harris Teeter or another store that doubles and that’s $1.50 off two cans.) Print the coupon, then sign up for the newsletter, which will occasionally have other Amy’s coupons.
Now, back to Facebook … let’s try “liking” Nasoya Tofu. Dang! Right at the top of their Facebook page is a Coupon button. Click on that and … bingo, a coupon for $.75 cents off. Currently in Charlotte, Nasoya is on sale at Harris Teeter for $2.00. The coupon doubles so that would be $1.50 off … result: a tub of organic tofu for $.50. Catch Harris Teeter when they’re tripling coupons and the tofu would be … free. Free is good. Practical vegans love free. Stroll on over to Nasoya’s website and … falalalala, hahahaha, join Tofu U and get another $.75 off coupon, plus three more coupons emailed to you!
Sign up at Silk’s website and get an instant coupon, plus they have a new coupon each month and monthly giveaways!
What if one of your favorite brands isn’t offering anything on Facebook or their website? Here’s one of the biggest secrets: Ask. Send them an email, tell ’em you’re their number one fan (unless you’re emailing Stephen King and asking for a free book, then definitely don’t tell him that), and ask for some coupons. Compassionate Tummies (you do read her blog, too, RIGHT?) has had great success in asking companies for coupons, with Amy’s sending her a whole coupon book.
I think that’s enough for today. Next week, we’ll talk about setting up a manageable and practical routine for keeping up with all your coupons.