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Look for coupons in all the right places

When people hear how much money I save each week on my grocery bill by using coupons, there are those who conclude that I must use secret, special coupons that the rest of the world isn't clued into. In one of my coupon classes a woman asked, "Where do you find these coupons? I noticed my friend has different coupons in her paper than I do."

Well, there's a reason for that. Did you know that the coupons you receive in your Sunday newspaper can be different depending on which paper you subscribe to? At times, companies wishing to reach different market areas will offer coupon promotions to specific newspapers. While all Sunday papers have coupon inserts, the coupons may vary depending on which paper you receive.

I subscribe to two papers on Sunday, our local town newspaper and the big Chicago newspaper. While many times both papers will carry the same coupons, there are also times when one paper will have more or different coupons than another. The fact that different newspapers carry different coupons is usually - pardon the pun - news to most people.

Obviously, I love coupons, and I enjoy receiving both newspapers on Sunday, not only to keep up on the local and regional news but also to maximize the number of coupons I get each week. Depending on where you live, it may be worth your while to see what coupons are available in each newspaper.

While the newspapers' inserts are always going to be the primary and best source for coupons, another good place to find coupons is on the Internet. Hundreds of product manufacturers and grocery stores themselves offer printable coupons for their products.

Printing coupons from the Internet is easy to do. Browse to the web site of the manufacturer of the product you're interested in. Look for a link to print coupons and select the ones you would like to print. Some web sites may ask you to register for a free account. Others may ask you to install their plug-in that will allow you to print their coupons each time you visit. Then, simply click the Print Coupons link and the coupons will be sent right to your printer. It's good to note, too, that you're allowed to print most Internet coupons twice. Make sure to go back and print another set if you'd like to buy more than one of each item, which is always a smart idea when the price is low.

Check your store's web site for coupons, too. Many stores offer printable coupons on their web sites and some will also offer electronic coupons that you can load to your shopper's discount card digitally, via the store's web site. This is an even easier way to use coupons since you don't need to print them out at all.

Another great place to find good coupons is in grocery stores themselves. Don't forget to look for coupons in the aisles near the products you're shopping for. There are coupon dispensers and displays throughout the grocery store. You'd be surprised how many times you might find an item on sale for $1 ... and a dispenser full of $1 coupons right above it. Take advantage of both. Remember, pairing a $1 coupon with a $1 sale is one of the easiest ways to get groceries for free.

Next week, I'll answer some more questions from readers like you. If you're getting started with coupons or you're a seasoned couponer with a question, please feel free to e-mail it to me at jill@ctwfeatures.com. Your answer may appear in a future column.

(c) CTW Features

Jill Cataldo, a coupon-workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her Web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your couponing coups and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.