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Match coupons with sales for bigger savings

Coupons are no longer for the ultra-thrifty. Thanks to the recession, more consumers are using them to save a few bucks - or much more.

Erin Huffstetler, who writes the consumer blog Frugal Living, saves 40 percent to 50 percent on her grocery bill with coupons.

There are the traditional paper coupons you find in newspaper inserts. And plenty of online sites allow you to print coupons on your home computer.

Huffstetler likes PGESaver.com and Smart Source.com. And Upromise.com, the reward card, offers eCoupons that direct the savings into a college fund, she says.

Other site recommendations from heavy coupon users: RetailMeNot.com, Hotcoupon world.com and www-Coupons.com.

Some retailers might not accept online coupons. Call ahead to find out, Huffstetler says.

Maximize coupons by waiting for the product to go on sale, Huffstetler says. You'll start noticing that stores tend to put items on sale the same time every month, so you can figure out how much you need to buy before the next sale.

And if your newspaper has exceptionally good coupons one day, "buy an extra paper," she says.

Some shoppers shell out hardly any money for groceries through their coupon skills. Their garages are stockpiled with food and detergent.

"You have to wonder if they are able to use that before it goes bad," Huffstetler says.

There's another downside to coupons. "They are for pre-made food," says Jim Wang, editor of the blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. "There aren't lettuce coupons. ... Fresh is always tastier."

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