Friday, February 19, 2010

*Back to Basics--Internet Printables*

Just wanted to revisit an old post for any new readers--

*Internet Printables 101*

Newspapers are a great source for coupons, but definitely not the only one! There are tons of coupons to be found online, called "printables" or "IP's." One of the main resources for online coupons is coupons.com (which you can access all coupons easily through the coupons.com bar on my sidebar). The first time you go to print coupons from coupons.com (and some other sites that have their own coupon printing program) you will have to install a small coupon printing software program on your computer (which coupons.com will give you the instructions to do so) in order to print. It does this so that it can limit the number of coupons printed to two per computer. They limit this so that people cannot just go print off a gazillion of a certain coupon. There are some coupons that you can only print once and occasionally even ones you can print more than twice. If you have access to multiple computers, then you can get even more great coupons.

Your initial thought is probably "that's sure a lot of paper and ink to print coupons...so am I really saving money?" Well, if you use up all of your color ink and good paper to do it, then it might not be worth it. The very first thing you should do is change your printer defaults when you're getting ready to print coupons. Set it to the lowest quality setting (by going to your "control panel" and going into your printer settings) and change it to black & white. Stores will still accept the coupons if they're black & white. No need to waste color ink on them! You can also switch to your lower quality print settings, so instead of printing with the "best photo" setting, change it to "text" or "draft" or whatever your low setting is. (Don't forget to change your settings back if you need to print something else!) Also, I bought some of the cheapest printer paper I could find ($.01 at Staples) and use it strictly for printing coupons. I save the thicker, more expensive stuff, for other things. So by doing those three things, you are cutting WAY back on what it will cost to print your coupons.

Also, you don't have to print EVERY coupon that you come across! You'll start to notice that a lot of the coupons you can find online are the same ones that are in your Sunday papers. As long as you're getting your multiple Sunday papers, you don't really need to print off those same printables, unless you want to get even more of a particular item. There are exceptions, though, as sometimes you can find internet printable coupons for a much higher value than the ones in the paper.

Another thing, when I first started this system, I made the huge mistake of going to coupons.com and printing off every single one of the coupons I thought I would use. Well, needless to say I didn't use but maybe half of them, as they expired before I had a chance. I have noticed that when I print coupons off coupons.com, they usually expire 1 month from the date you print them (though this is not always the case...unfortunately you can't tell until you print them, as it does not give an exp. date on the website). So, unless they are a high-value coupon or one you would be sad to miss if it disappeared, don't print them until you actually need them. Otherwise, they will wind up expiring before that item ever goes on sale. And a lot of the coupons come back every month. There are times, however, that you will see an internet printable coupon that appears the same as the one you got in the paper, but check the coupon value because sometimes, even though you get a $.50/2 coupon in the paper, you will find a $1/1 coupon online for the same item!

At the beginning of every month the coupons reset on coupons.com and you are able to print some of the same coupons again, as well as new coupons that have been posted. Throughout the month various new coupons will be released as well. There is one thing to mention here...some of the printable coupons have a limited quantity of how many can be printed. So, many of them are gone within the first few days to a week because the allotted number of coupons (say 10,000) has been reached and the coupon is pulled from the web. I would suggest that you plan on getting on the site the first week of the month and print off any of the higher value coupons that you want before they reach their limit and are gone. As you get more familiar with the site and with couponing, you will start to learn which coupons come back every month, which ones are always in the newspaper any way (so you don't need to print them) and which ones get snagged quickly and that you need to print as soon as possible. I am still learning these things....

There are also other places to snag online coupons, such as SmartSource, Redplum, or through MoneySavingMom.com. Also, usually, even if you find the same coupon on each site...you can print it twice from EACH link! So that can be pretty helpful sometimes if you need more of a particular coupon, but don't have access to another computer. Target also offers printable coupons from their website. These are actually Target store coupons, though, and can be stacked with manufacturer coupons for the same item! Go HERE to see the available Target coupons.

In addition to those sites, there are other places to snag great coupons. There are tons of coupons to be found at company websites. Sometimes you have to sign up with the website to get the coupons or freebies, so I suggest creating a 2nd email account, such as a gmail, yahoo, or hotmail account, that you use strictly for signing up for coupons, freebies, or online offers. Go HERE to learn more about signing up for online offers. After you create your coupon email account, take full advantage of signing up for free offers and coupons! They're EVERYwhere! I have already received great coupons and tons of free samples in the mail by signing up for stuff. The "brick" coupons you usually find through websites and blogs can be printed twice also by selecting "print," then after it's done printing, click your browser's back button (sometimes you have to click it three times if you're using internet explorer). It will automatically print again. Some "brick" coupons only allow you to print once.

Troubleshooting:

I do not know a whole lot in the way of troubleshooting your printing problems, but here are just a couple of the main things I can think of that you should know...

*If you select print and you simply get a "Please wait..." or it just sits on a blank page and nothing happens, that is probably because the page was intended for a different internet browser than you are using. So, if you happen to be using Firefox when this happens, try opening up the link in Internet Explorer and see if that fixes the problem and vice versa.

*Make sure you are hooked up to a printer BEFORE clicking "print coupon" because they will automatically start printing. Though, even if you aren't hooked up, they should go sit and wait in your printer tray until you do make the connection, but better safe than sorry!

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! I'll do my best to answer!

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