Online coupon services that save money

But many get nosy, so be stingy with personal data

Question for the expert

Dear New Frugal You,
I've been a coupon clipper for years, but my kids are telling me that I should download an app and use online tools instead. Um, what? Can you help a willing, but technically challenged, geezer to drop my scissors and go e-couponing? -- Sally


Answer for the expert

Dear Sally,
Don't worry about being a technically challenged coupon queen. You can still keep your crown even if you don't use online coupons, but you might find that they do offer a few advantages for the frugal monarch.

The big advantage to online coupons is that you don't have to buy the Sunday paper for the coupon inserts. If that's the only reason you buy the paper, online coupons could save you a buck or more each Sunday, not to mention helping you avoid the hassle of lugging five pounds of paper to the recyling bin.

But, if you're buying the paper anyway, it might be easier to just scan the inserts for the coupons you'd use. Despite what your kids think, there's something thrilling about seeing a whole page of coupons in your local paper.

On the other hand, there's also no reason to fear using your PC to get money-saving coupons. Finding coupon sites and signing up is easy. However, you do need to be careful about sites that ask for too much info or that try to sell you something without your knowledge.

Some coupon sites will ask for personal data, including your name, address and phone number. Be especially careful about giving permission to charge your phone on a monthly basis. It's easy to slip that type of authorization into the "standard agreement" that we all typically skip over.

You can protect yourself by being careful to read everything, especially the small print agreements, and noticing what boxes are checked. Want to be doubly safe? Have someone with you when you sign up. Two sets of eyes are more likely to catch any tricks.

Two of the most popular coupon sites are very easy to use. One company that coupon clippers are familiar with is Smart Source. On that site, you can see what's available without providing any data. To print coupons, you will need to set up an app and have Java working on your PC, but step-by-step instructions are provided.

Another of my favorites is Like Smart Source, expect to download and install a printer file. Any computer "newbie" can do it. If you run into trouble, just invite a grandchild over for cookies, and he'll fix it for you.

Use of both sites is pretty self-explanatory. You can highlight the type of product (i.e., food, pet care, baby, etc.) that you want to see. Click on any coupons that you want to print. When you've chosen the ones you want, find and click the print button. Just that simple.

Don't forget that there are other ways to use your personal computer to save money. Have a product that you like? Do a search to find the company's site. On the site, you'll find contact info. Send the company a complimentary letter or e-mail telling them what you like about their product. Many will respond with coupons for that product.

Yet another way to save is with discount codes -- especially if you know exactly what you're buying. Suppose you want to buy a new slow cooker. Just do a search on the manufacturer, model number and "coupon code." If any are available, they'll show up. It's not uncommon to save $5 or $10 on a $30 purchase. Best of all, it's something that you were going to buy anyway.

One caution for all clipper queens and kings. You'll notice that most coupons are for name-brand products. Just because you have a coupon and use that item doesn't mean that you should use the coupon.

Suppose you have ground sausage on your grocery list and a coupon for "retired country singer sausage." You're not required to buy that brand. It's possible that another brand or the store brand will be a better buy. Bottom line: Do the math before you add it to your grocery cart.

So, Sal, you shouldn't feel that you have to use your PC for couponing. It's another option for you, but isn't necessary to maintain your status as the Sovereign of Savings.

See related: How to create a price book to help you comparison shop, Making a budget? Breakdown the 'Big 4' expenses first, Trying to cut back on spending? Go BIG!

Meet's reader Q&A experts

Does a personal finance problem have you worried? Monday through Saturday,'s Q&A experts answer questions from readers. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.

Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.

Updated: 03-18-2019