Coupons are back...but make sure your printer works

Seems so old fashioned, clipping coupons. Sitting at the kitchen table with your coffee and little pair of scissors. Something your Aunt Tish was famous for. If it seems musty, and not something people do so much anymore, you're in good company. Coupon redemption has been falling for the last decade. Until recently, that is. And with an online twist, of course.

According to this report in the New York Times, the number of visits to thrift-oriented websites that feature coupons are up by about a third in the last year. And sites like and are reporting spikes in traffic.

Why is this? Leaping food prices and $4 gasoline for starters. According to the article, the founder of, Steven Boal, says traffic has grown steadily in recent years, but spiked upward last fall as consumers got "more aggressive" in their finding and printing out coupons, especially for everyday products like milk and cereal. seems the simpler of the two, offering mostly $1 off coupons for a variety of consumer goods, both edible and otherwise: Fruit of the Loom underwear, $1 off any two packages, $1 off Tylenol, $2 off Dino Nuggets (hey!), shampoo, contact lens solution. It's the sort of site you can end up spending a lot of time on. is where the virtual coupon clippers can really go nuts. Here are 15% coupons and 20% off coupons for all manner of merchandise from major brand stores such as Circuit City and Amazon.

The up-tick in coupon-using isn't just a win for consumers. Companies like it too. According to the article, companies issue more coupons when the economy slows down. The theory goes that when things get tight, consumers are open to switching brands. When the competitor's brand of laundry detergent is that much cheaper, well, suddenly you're willing to give it a try. And for the first time in years, the report says, shoppers are actually responding.

And if you're a long-time coupon clipper of the old-fashioned variety? Well, you're probably laughing all the way to the bank.

If you're prepared to give coupon clipping another look, first thing's first: print out that 10% off coupon from, and make sure your printer is locked and loaded.
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