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Savings Websites: The Good, the Bad, and the Broken

There are great websites that offer deals and discounts, but then there are just as many that aren't worth the time it takes to navigate them. Beware of sites that require a subscription before you see any of their deals and discounts, and don't waste time on free sites that aren't easily navigated. Their advice to "check here before you shop" isn't always as rewarding as it seems.

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For Educators Only

Teachers receive a bevy of discounts while shopping, and it's hard to keep track of them all. The deals vary from store to store and often require participation in a customer rewards program that attaches the teacher's benefit onto the loyalty card. Because of this, it seems that good online databases for teachers are hard to come by.

One of the sites that offers testimonials to support its service but still falls short is My Education Discount (www.myeducationdiscount.com). Although its list makes it seem as if every store in the country offers a discount, the generated excitement is short-lived. Each store link opens a new page that highlights the discounts for teachers, many a generic discount that anyone can receive. The same links are often repeated, and very little is new information that the stores haven't already promoted. Still, it does offer some savings and all of the promotions seem to be valid and current. Some samples:

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  • Joann Fabrics offers a 15% discount to teachers through the Teachers Rewards Program. This is a great link to the information, but any store will offer the same information.

  • Petco offers 15% off each order, but the code seems to work for everyone not just teachers. This type of promotion can be found easily in other places.

  • Many store "offers" end up being a link to the same Plastic Jungle website that offers discounted gift cards for stores. The premise is to buy the gift card at a discounted price and then use it to shop in the future-not much of a teacher discount.

The website Coupons for Teachers (www.coupons-for-teachers.com) is an example of a savings promise that falls flat. Every link is broken, so the printable coupon that is supposed to open does not. Sadly, there are too many sites such as this one floating around out there. Teachers are better off searching each store's policy than wasting time looking for the all-encompassing savings website.

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Savings for Soldiers

Soldiers and their families deserve all we can give them, and many businesses agree. There is a multitude of supporting websites that tally businesses offering military discounts.

One site, 4 Military Families (www.4militaryfamilies.com/militarydiscounts.htm), offers a comprehensive list of businesses offering discounts (plus the site offers a myriad of other information for families). Only a few of the businesses have links to the details of the discount; the site is merely a listing with the disclaimer that certain locations may not adhere to the discount policy. Still, if you're heading to dinner it's nice to know which restaurants may offer perks to our soldiers and their families.

Another site, Military Coupons (www.militarycoupons.com), lists the same businesses with links to the coupons or promotions. However, the coupons open in small windows with little direction about how to obtain the discount. You'll have to visit the store in person or call to hear the details in full.

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What Was That Promo Code Again?

The biggest problem with online promotional codes is finding the code. The sale for photo finishing will appear in this week's flyer, but if you haven't recorded the combination of numbers and letters you can't get the discount when you place your order. Sites such as The Coupon Connector (www.couponconnector.com) and Promotional Codes (www.promotionalcodes.com) organize them for you with very little problems.

I've noticed that some drug stores advertize sales only at the beginning of the week, and by the end of the week they've stopped posting the promo codes on their websites, although they're still available. Also, some promo codes work even when they're not advertized. If you suspect that there might be a valid code for the week (and there usually is) visit one of these code collector sites to give it a try. I've found codes that I didn't know were active for reduced shipping and money off large orders. This is the site you want to check before you order.

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November 5, 20110 found this helpful

One thing worth mentioning is that you should start a new email address to use when using these websites. Some of them don't give your information away, but all it takes is one who does & your email will soon be filled with all kinds of junk & spam! I use Hotmail & created a separate email address to use & had all messages from it forwarded to my regular email account - that way, I can still see the messages.

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