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COUPONERS SAVE BIG page 5
Richmond woman uses coupons to save big at stores.

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Date published: 10/9/2011

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Other online resources include sites such as Swagbucks, where you earn "bucks" for completing surveys, watching videos, or linking store loyalty cards to the site. Regular purchases made at participating stores also earn bucks, which can be redeemed for items such as gift cards.

At mypoints.com, users can click to get deals and sometimes free merchandise. And at sites such as savingstar.com, you don't even have to clip coupons. You link your store loyalty cards, load coupons to them, and each time you redeem a coupon on an item loaded to the card, savingstar.com records the purchase.

"A lot of people say they have no time for couponing, or they don't really save that much," Cutts said. "But my point is, why pay full price for something you can get for less, or even free?"

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$2 billion

Amount couponers saved in the first six months of 2011

$1.57

Average face value of a coupon in the first half of 2011, up 5.4 percent from the first six months of 2010

76

Percentage of consumers who say their grocery bills have increased up to $50 weekly; 41 percent have seen a weekly increase of $20 to $50.

96

Percentage of consumers who say they would still use coupons if they struck it big in the lottery

75

Percentage of consumers who consider the Internet their primary advertising source, but used newspaper inserts in the last 30 days.

--nationalcouponmonth.com

Buy multiple copies of your local Sunday newspapers. Yep, that's newspapers, plural. Readers in areas served by more than one paper will sometimes find different coupon and advertising inserts in different papers.

Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers to give you any coupon inserts they aren't using. Or, if all your friends are couponers, too, organize a coupon swap at work, the neighborhood community center or even local libraries, where you can exchange coupons you won't use for ones you will. If you have pets, but no babies, bring in all those diaper coupons and swap them for pet food and treat coupons.

Know a store's coupon policy before you go in. Most are available on store websites. Keep a copy of that policy in your binder, in case sales clerks are not familiar with it. But be aware that the policies change frequently, so make sure you have the most up-to-date information.

Be organized. You can arrange your coupons in a number of ways, such as by expiration date or product category. Cutts keeps a zippered three-ring binder filled with baseball-card-holder inserts. She also keeps an accordion file with the unclipped coupons, in case she sees an ad for a great deal on a product in a previous week's insert that she happened to have missed.

Think about using some of your savings for giving. If there's a deal that will mean you pay only cents for an item or, better yet, can get it free, buy it and donate it to an area homeless shelter, pet shelter or food bank.