If, when you think of coupons, you think of 35 cents off your next purchase of Eight O’Clock Coffee, take another look. The Internet, combined with location based services, have broken this game wide open and if you don’t take advantage, you’re leaving oodles of dough on the table.
As one of our Product Specialist and in-house shopping maven Kelley says: “better in my pocket than in theirs.”
1) Sign Up for Groupon If You Haven’t Already.
My reaction to Google’s six billion dollar bid for Groupon was amazement. The only person I knew at that point who used a Groupon was my sister, who bought a sky diving lesson through the service. I’ve eaten my liver howerer, and since then, I signed up, and have used the service for some unbelievable deals.
If you’ve signed up already, using Groupon is master-of-the-obvious advice. If you haven’t, consider this: I’ve purchased lunch Groupons from great local restaurants. For example, $15 bought me $30 worth of food at Copper Canyon Grill. I’ve used these for business lunches and saved a lot of money.
Many businesses hoping for repeat customers, such as spas, sporting good stores, or other health/hobby type of activities put great loss leader Groupons out there, giving you discounts easily in excess of 50%. So if you need a massage, sign up and wait for your next hot offer.
Other services, such as Living Social, work in a similar fashion.
2) Check out Foursquare (Don’t Worry, No One Will Rob Your House and You’ll Save Some $$).
Foursquare is the standard bearer of location based services, a tech category I avoided for a long time due to privacy concerns. The idea is this: when you enter an establishment, you “check in,” announcing your presence. If you check in to a place more than other people, you become the Mayor of the ice cream store, bar, Apple store, or whatever haunt you frequent.
What I didn’t realize was that you can restrict who sees your location to only your friends on Foursquare, which in my case is three people. That said, if you so desire, you can also blab your whereabouts on Twitter if you’d like someone to break into your house.
What I also didn’t realize was that you can get deals by checking into places on Foursquare, whether or not you’re the mayor of the place. For example, one local clothing store offers 20% off purchases upon your first check-in. Another gives a free gift after three check-ins. Since Foursquare operates on your GPS-enabled smartphone, it tells you what merchants nearby give you discounts.
3) AAA Has Got it Going On
You know how you get discounts on hotels with your AAA card but almost never use it otherwise? Guess what, the seemingly anachronistic AAA has embraced the digital age with some serious V-8 power. And I’m talking engines, not vegetable juice.
AAA Discounts is an iPhone app which allows you to see all the places around you that give you $$ off your purchase by flashing your AAA membership. And there’s some serious stuff in there: 30% discounts off eyeglasses at Lenscrafters, for example. For a $200 purchase, that’s a good $60 off. Complimentary desserts and 15% off is also common in restaurants, at least near me in Florida.
Log onto the AAA site (you need to register and be a member) and you can get all the maps and tourbooks and triptiks that you used to get in the pre-GPS days sent directly to your house. Say what you will, but I like having paper maps of unfamiliar places when I travel. A couple of years ago I had spotty coverage in Missouri and almost got squashed by a tornado. And writing on maps is a lot easier than writing on my iPhone.
4) RedLaser – Also if You Haven’t Already Checked it Out
RedLaser allows you to scan bar codes and QR codes (the funny-looking square black and white images popping up on posters, newspapers, print ads, etc). You take a picture of the code with your iPhone or other smartphone, and Red Laser reads it as if you swiped a can of beans over the check-out counter at the supermarket.
In the case of bar codes, you can find other local retailers who have the same inventory at a different price. This is a great tool when shopping for electronics – you can price compare without driving around the city or looking up your desired washing machine online ahead of your visit to Sears.
Those QR codes resolve to websites. The idea is to capture your attention with print media and then draw you in electronically.
5) Fat Wallet For Hardware and Other Non-Edibles
Looking for computer hardware or electronics and want a deal code? Check out Fat Wallet. The coupon site is an up-to-date listing of current deals going on at places like HP, B&H Photo Video, The Home Depot, and Newegg. You can also search by product type, and don’t have to view deals via the prism of a retailer.
6) Hot Coupon World
At Hot Coupon World, the deals are sizzlin’! With a name like theirs, that’s what you’d expect from their marketing department. But don’t be put off by the goofy name: this site is for the individual who wants to embark on couponing as a serious hobby.
You may not find the chunky, 50%-off-mighty-purchase-price-items that you get from Groupon. And you might not be using a sexy, location based service like Foursquare that you can brag to your friends about.
But, for those adopting a coupon at every-turn lifestyle, check this site out. Yes, you’re saving money on the Jolly Green Giant and Mr. Clean. But with couponing and saving money, sometimes it’s fun to go back to your roots.