Expert Interview with Marcy Robison on Coupons and Deals for Mint

Marcy Robison knows how to save money. When she left her IT career to care for her children, she picked up a new job: finding the best coupons, deals and method for getting the most out of a buck. She documents her finds on her blog, Stretching a Buck. She took some time and laid out for us how to find, and use, the best deals.

I was surprised at the sheer number of coupons on your site. How do you find them all?

You can find product coupons everywhere! In terms of the coupons that we post on Stretching a Buck, I have a relationship with Coupons.com where I am able to host their coupons directly on my website, which is a great resource for my readers. In addition to the larger printable coupon sites (Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, SmartSource.com), we find coupons on company Facebook pages, company websites and via money-saving apps such as Ibotta. I regularly receive emails from companies asking me to share their coupons with my readers as well.

What do you look for in a coupon? Are there any you disregard, and if so, why?

I look for coupons that come from channels that I trust. Namely the three printable coupon sites that I mentioned previously, coupons in my Sunday newspaper and coupons that are sent directly from the manufacturer to my email or hosted on their company website. Coupons to avoid are ones that are distributed via email from an unknown source, and coupons that are so high value that they seem too good to be true. If you suspect that a coupon isn't authentic, typically a quick Google search will let you know if the coupon has been reported as a fake.

If a coupon is rejected at the store, what should you do?

If you use coupons, this is going to happen to you at some point! The best tip that I have is to remain calm and ask the cashier to double-check the coupon to see why it was rejected. If the cashier is not helpful, typically a trip to the customer service desk with your receipt and coupon will clear up the issue. If that doesn't work, you can try contacting corporate via the online feedback/customer service forms often found on company websites. In the grand scheme of things, going through all of this to save $1 or less might not be worth it - that's up to you to decide.

What advice do you have for somediv who may just be getting started using coupons on a regular basis?

Take things slow! Couponing can be overwhelming when you first start. It's exciting to save money and to get things for free after coupons, and that can become addictive. A lot of people either burn out or end up purchasing more than they intended, just for the thrill. It's important to be realistic - don't lose sight of what you really need and use. Set small goals in the beginning - maybe aim to save $5 per week, and go from there. Coupon blogs are great and free resources for both new and experienced couponers, and there are so many to choose from that it shouldn't be hard to find one that suits you and your shopping style.

What's the oddest product you've ever come across a coupon for?

Some of the oddest coupons I see are coupons for plastic surgery and procedures. I'm not sure that the savings are worth the risk of receiving "budget" work! (laughs)

What's the future of saving at the register? Will we use more apps? Loyalty cards?

Loyalty programs are certainly popular because they allow stores to determine your spending habits and tailor coupons to you - thus prompting you to become even more loyal to their stores/brands. I do think that we will continue to see more growth in digital coupon offerings, both from stores and manufacturers, as well as the development of more money-saving apps.

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