Web Coupon Cutter

When Jane Brown, a part-time employee of the New Jersey Department of Education, needs to save money on groceries, she turns to her local Sunday newspaper for coupons. Just $6 a week in coupons saves Brown around $312 in a year’s time.

Like many consumers, Brown is now looking to the Internet for a way to save. Need a new suit or coat? Online retail sites, such as www.lordandtaylor.com, provide coupons to those who register with the Website or sign up for an e-mail newsletter. But the real jackpot are coupon and rebate sites, which offer beneficial savings depending on product type and brand.

Are you in the market for online savings? Here are four sites to help you get started:

SmartSource.com This site posts 30 coupons every week, which can also be delivered via e-mail. Savings are available for products ranging from olive oil to allergy medication. Coupons are personalized by specifying the supermarket, drugstore, and discount chain you frequent most. Viewing the coupons requires downloading a coupon print manager, a small program that uses 40 kilobytes of memory. The coupons must be printed so the expiration date can be seen.

Coolsavings.com This site offers coupons for groceries, baby needs, pets, beauty, and travel. You can receive customized coupons by answering questions related to homeownership, education, income, children, and pets. Once you log in, you can browse each of the five “aisles” for savings. Discounted items include butter, toothpaste, and ice cream. Be careful of Aisle 1, which is free stuff. It involves sending your personal information to the site’s advertisers in order to receive product information.

RebatesHQ.com Rebate Headquarters provides rebates for specific brands including DirecTV, XM Satellite Radio, and General Electric. The site asks for your name, address, and invoice or receipt number, which are automatically put on the rebate form. As with standard rebates, the receipt and form must be mailed together. A tracking number is e-mailed upon confirmation, allowing you to monitor the status of your rebate.

Rebateplace.com This site offers rebates for computer hardware and software and consumer electronics. Products range from microwaves to DVD players to plasma TVs. You can tailor your results by searching by manufacturer. Easy navigation allows you to print the rebate form in a few clicks without registering or filling in any information. Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view the rebate forms.

A word to the wise: Just because it’s a bargain doesn’t mean you have to buy it. As Brown is quick to point out, “I only use coupons for items I actually use, instead of buying an item simply because there is a coupon for it.”