expert Leanna Gregor talks extreme couponing with apps, coupons

PHOENIX - With unemployment holding at around 8 percent, most of us are still feeling the financial pinch.

As we celebrate National Couponing Month, staying on top of the latest deals has never been easier, and it doesn't require you to hoard endless stacks of grocery store coupons. Apps and user-friendly websites can help you shop smarter and faster, all while making the process of saving money even more satisfying.

Leanna Gregor, consumer savings expert for , shares her extreme money-saving tactics for those of us who just don't have the time to dedicate ourselves to full-time couponing, but still want to save.

1. Do your homework: Extreme couponing is the hot topic these days, but let's face it, most of us don't have the time to go through newspaper, Sunday inserts and coupon mailers. Instead, visit websites like that consolidates coupons on thousands of products from different retailers for you. Simply enter your zip code, find the coupon from stores near you, print them out at home and redeem them at the cash register before checking out.

2. Stock and stack: Stock up on imperishable items when they go on sale, and stack your coupons on top of in-store deals to ensure the lowest price possible.

3. Shop online to stack coupons: You can use the same coupon stacking method online by shopping the sale sections and maximizing your savings with code from sites like and to find a promotional code that matches your online retailer and save money on everything from household appliances to babysitting services. If you know to use the internet, you should be saving hundreds of dollars of everyday purchases like electronics, travel and more.

4. Get rewarded with apps: Smartphone technology has revolutionized the medium in which retailers market their products, and re-imagined the way shoppers save money, making consumer savings more accessible and convenient than ever before. For example, apps like ShopKick offer a daily deal tab where discounts from thousands of retailers are just a tap away, while Red Laser compares prices from online and brick and mortar retailers to ensure you are getting the lowest price.

5. Become a Price Detective:  Being able to detect whether or not a product on your wish list is at its lowest price can be a daunting task. Now there are easy tools that can track price drops for you, so that you know that you're getting the best deals out there. Sites like help you book mark items and send you notifications when it goes on sale. For example, the holidays are right around the corner. If you're surfing the net and find gifts for your friends and family and you know have some extra time, go ahead and use their clip it tool and wait for Clipix to notify you when the price drops.

6. Fill in the box: Anytime you're shopping online and get to the checkout page, you're going to see a little box for digital coupons. Whatever you do, don't leave this space empty. You can find a coupon online in less than a minute and save hundreds of dollars on everyday purchases. You can crack the code on sites like , and . These sites organize coupons from 15K major retailers like Sears, Home Depot, Travelocity, and more. Using one of the 20% off promo codes found on, we were able to combine sales items with our promo code discount and save $74.29 on our total sale at Macy's.

7. Get Social: We're all tapped into social media, and following your favorite merchants and coupon sites on Facebook and Twitter will get you exclusive access to deals. Most retailers reward their loyal fans by offering flash sales and exclusive deals.  For example, movie theaters often offer free snack coupons to their social media followers.

Fast facts about couponing:

--The first coupon was introduced in 1887 by Asa Candler who was the CEO of the Coca-Cola Company.

--Coupons offer competitive discounts worth the time it takes to find them. In fact, every hour spent couponing in 2011 was worth $100.

--Coupon shoppers saved a combined total of $4.6 billion in 2011

--Last year, 305 billion coupons were distributed across the United States

--Digital coupon redemption grew by more than 100% from 2009 to 2010.

--In this year alone, 92.5 adult internet users will use Internet couponing for savings on everything from clothing to travel.

--As innovative companies continue to evolve high-tech couponing in the name of consumer-savings, accessibility for coupons is now almost effortless. As a result, mobile coupon users will grow from 19.8 to 35.6 million between 2011 and 2013.

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