This guest post is by Ann Smarty, a search blogger and social media enthusiast. Ann has just started a community of guest bloggers, so if you are interested in guest posting, join it as a beta tester!
Many people wonder if couponing ever makes sense: you never remember to apply the coupon in time even if you have it. Besides, having a coupon sometimes makes you feel like you want (or need) to but that thing – and in this sense couponing can even make you consume and spend more instead of helping you save.
Well, to me, the only way to make this work is to create a solid couponing strategy that would fit my needs – this means, to select the best tools that would allow to effectively track and organize coupons for me to only use them (exactly) when I need them.
This post shares some useful free web-based tools that could make it possible to take advantage of online tools you come across daily:
There are plenty of tools aggregating online coupons and streaming them to you in your preferred way. Which one you choose is really up to you. Below I am listing only some examples rather than recommendations and I’d love to hear your thoughts:
Almost any site has an RSS subscription option and I am sure you already have some preferred RSS readers you tend to use. I prefer some browser based ones like NewsFox or Wizz RSS (which is currently having some security problems, so I am not linking to it).
Handy tip: there are also RSS to IM tools that deliver feed updates directly to your IM (example: iNezha for Gtalk). This is a good way to be alerted instantly (if time is an issue).
Like RSS, an email subscription option is really wide-spread. Even if a site does not offer one, you can always create it myself with tools like FeedMyInbox (that deliver any RSS feed updates to your inbox) and Google Alerts (that tracks new mentions of a keyword you need. If you want to restrict the alerts to one site only, use SITE:domain.com command, for example: [site:consumerismcommentary.com coupons] and use it for tracking).
Handy tip: to prevent your inbox from being stuffed with automated updates, consider creating a customized money-saving alerts. Buxr is one possible option: with it you can create a coupon alert for a selected merchant, deal type or a product name. The alert will be delivered to your inbox once a deal corresponding to your parameters is shared on the site:
Twitter makes it easier to follow anyone: almost any site is on Twitter now streaming its updates to its followers. So if you use Twitter and want to get real-time updates, just follow the coupon aggregator on Twitter.
Handy tip: consider using some alternative tools to track Twitter. For example, this app delivers any new search results (based on your settings) right to your email box:
If you are an avid FireFox user (like myself), you have a couple of more tracking options to choose from. My favorite one is RetailMeNot which works the following way: (with the tool installed) navigate to your online store where you plan to buy anything and if the store currently has a coupon code to offer, the addon will notify you of it:
Now that you are aware of all the tools to collect the coupons around the web, let’s try to learn how we can organize them:
Online to-do lists are normally used for productivity but they can help you in shopping as well. The options are quite a few; my personal favorites are RememberTheMilk (because it integrates with Google Calendar) and ToDoist (because I love its syntax).
Handy tip: the latter is a bit geekier and will probably be more fun for tech-savier shoppers. It allows to set the date and time for the reminder (as well as for recurring events):
So when you have a coupon and you want to remember to use it on a set date you will need to create an even with the following settings: [10/1/2010 @2 pm Dell laptop coupon].
Generally, shopping lists are used to organize your planned purchases and estimate the budget but they can also be used for couponing as well. GifTag, for example, allows to create a product page screenshot and stores it for the later reference. Thus it can easily be used for storing coupon pages: just make a screenshot of it.
Handy tip: if you use FireFox, consider installing their addon that makes a page screenshot with one click of a mouse:
Incoming Mail Filtering
If you use email subscription as a major coupon tracking method, get inventive when it comes to storing and organizing your automated updates. I use Outlook (Express) that allows to create folders to sort the incoming mail. You can organize the email messages by the merchant name, date and / or a product type:
Handy tip: Gmail filters may do basically the same but automatically: for example store incoming messages by keyword in separate folder.
Do you have a couponing strategy? Please share it in the comments!