I was pleasantly surprised when I opened a package of Betty Crocker Warm Delights Mini's (that I paid next to nothing for during triples) tonight. On the back of the cardboard packaging that holds together the two mini cake bowls, there was a coupon for 75 cents off two, which of course will double at HT to $1.50 off two. It got me thinking about the crazy places coupons lurk. The most typical places to find coupons are in the Sunday paper and online (primarily at coupons.com, smart source, red plum, and on your favorite manufacturer's websites). But they can be found in other places too, so I thought I'd list some of those:
1. Packaging - as in my example above, it is not unusual to find coupons in the packaging of previously purchased products (how's that for alliteration?). This may mean printed on the inside of a cardboard box or cereal box, slipped in between the plastic bag and the box of a product, or even buried in the product like some sort of Cracker Jacks prize. Some yogurts (like Stonyfield Farm) sometimes come with coupons on the underside of the lid (tip: clean these before storing and using them. icky.)
2. Magazines - I've mentioned it before, but scour those pages of your magazines for coupons and coupon booklets. They're especially prevalent in food and family-type magazines.
3. Waiting areas - Waiting anxiously for the dentist? Take your mind off of what might go on in the dentist chair by glancing over the tables and shelves in the waiting area. Odds are you'll find some coupons for toothpaste, toothbrushes, or floss. Check the packaging on the items in your "goody" bag too (like flossers) - sometimes there are coupons on those items as well. Coupons aren't always printed on paper - sometimes they are on plastic as well. And what else can be found in waiting areas? Magazines. Some with coupons in them (though check the expiration date - that Parents magazine may be from last April). And don't be too embarrassed about ripping them out of the magazine - if you flip through you'll see that other people have already done it too.
4. "Junk" Mail - If you're like me, you get a lot of catalogs and mailers because you signed up for updates online from your favorite stores. MANY of these stores send out coupons. I get them from Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Ann Taylor Loft, The Children's Place...the list continues. Read the expiration dates or use dates on these to make sure you use them on time. Red Plum also does a mid-week mailer with coupons for restaurants, hair cut places, and others. This past week a $6.99 haircut at Great Clips coupon was "lurking" in there.
5. At the Checkout Counter - more and more stores are printing coupons on the backs of their receipts. Be careful not to clip these if you need the receipt for a rebate or tax credit, but otherwise enjoy discounts at local businesses. Sometimes there are stacks of coupons at the checkout counter as well just waiting to be taken. Also, sometimes at certain grocery stores, like Harris Teeter, coupons will print out with your receipt. Please note that these "catalina" coupons cannot be doubled or tripled.
6. Local Magazines/Flyers/Pennysaver - There are some free publications out there that often provide coupons from local businesses. For example, there is a Cary Newsletter that has ads and coupons for many local restaurants. I've used coupons from there at Tyler's Taproom and El Dorado.
7. Megacoupon Books - These books like the Entertainment Book or City Pass can be bought for $20 to $30 and provide coupons not only to local and national chain restaurants and amusement places but also to many retailers like Dick's Sporting Goods and New York and Company. There are also discounts on travel like car rental and hotels. Basically, if you're looking for a discount on anything and have one of these books, make sure to check it out. Keep it in your car to look at before you go out to eat or to the mall. Some of the coupons have coupon codes you can use online. Keep in mind that for the Entertainment book, many restaurant coupons expire November 1, but the retailer coupons might last until the end of the year. These books are great gifts that keep on giving! Last year, Entertainment also did an online discount on their 2010 book just prior to the holidays, so keep that in mind.
8. In the Bag - Some retailers keep coupons and offers in their bags that they put your purchases in after you buy them. I know that accepting plastic bags is not very "green" nowadays, but if you know your retailer does this, accept the bag and then recycle it for another purpose later. Or ask if you can get the coupons while using your own bag for your purchases. Some grocery stores will pay you not to use their bags (5 cents at HT for each bag of your own that you use, Whole Foods pays for returned plastic bags as well).
Can you think of any places I've missed? Feel free to comment!